Rescuing Vintage Kitchen Accessories
If you're here reading this, chances are you're already living with a couple of vintage kitchen accessories, and you're hoping to preserve their character and charm.
Well, The Retro Kitchen can help.
We've been "rescuing" vintage kitchenware for years, and we've learned what works, and what doesn't. So we're sharing a few simple tips and tricks that will help you get years of enjoyment from your prized kitchen treasures.
For example, we once found a complete set of Pyrex primary color bowls at Goodwill for the unbelievable price of $19.99. Most likely, the set was still on the shelf because of the layer of kitchen grime that the bowls were hiding beneath. Since there were no chips or cracks, we were willing to take the chance. With just a gentle cleaning with some baking soda the bowls were like new again. Apparently the layer of grime acted as a protective barrier, and the color on those bowls was better than any we'd seen. (Naturally, this will work on vintage refrigerator dishes too.)
So, when deciding whether or not to buy something, don't let a little dirt scare you. But, no matter how dirty a piece is, never use harsh cleaning products. Always start with the least abrasive method, and move up to something stronger only if it's necessary. If mild soap and warm water won't cut through the grease and grime, move on to a damp cloth and baking soda. If baking soda alone doesn't work, use a paste of 1 part baking soda to 2 parts lemon juice. And no matter what cleaning product you choose to use, test it on a small, inconspicuous spot first to avoid any surprises.
In fact, you need just a few common household items to clean and maintain most of your vintage pieces: baking soda, Turtle Wax, OxiClean, spray sizing and, occasionally, some denture cleaning tablets and a fresh lemon or two.
You can also use baking soda to gently clean vintage spice tins or coffee tins. Then, once thoroughly dry, use a clean soft cloth to apply a light coat of Turtle wax. The wax will not only protect them, but it will make them shine like new again. A word of caution: do not use Formula 409 to clean vintage advertising tins. It will clean the dirt, but it'll take the color with it.
Vintage glassware, old milk bottles and glass flower vases are sometimes found with mineral deposits or a film inside. This is where the denture cleanser comes into play. Just fill the glassware with warm water and drop a denture tablet (or two) inside and allow to sit. If the deposits are stubborn, you may have to treat it several times. Once the denture tablets have done their job, you can finish cleaning it with a soft toothbrush.
Vintage aluminum trays and serving pieces naturally develop a dull patina over time. Shining them up is a matter of preference, but don't use any type of abrasive or you risk scratching. If you choose to shine, mag wheel polish, found in automotive stores, will get the job done.
We've already covered caring for vintage linens here, but here's an additional tip; once your decorative kitchen linens, runners and doilies are cleaned and sized, periodically run a lint-roller over them to remove dirt and dust. This will reduce the number of washings required, and greatly increase the life of the linens.