The sun is shining, the weather is warming … time to throw out clutter, wash windows and, of course, do a whole-house spring cleaning. For collectors, that can be a tricky job. Inadvertently throwing out something that is valuable or loved by another family member, using the wrong cleaning solution, or having slippery, soapy hands holding delicate porcelains or pottery all can be a recipe for a disaster.

Follow simple rules and you can achieve spring goals and preserve items for future generations. First, don’t throw out anything that isn’t yours, even when it is tempting as you pull out the dusty bins of “stuff” owned by a spouse or child. We all have heard the stories about the mother who threw out now-valuable baseball cards, first-edition comics, original Barbie’s and Star Wars action figures.

With your collections: Save what you still use and love, at least until next year. Put items you are considering getting rid of out of sight and look in a few months and see if you miss them. Sort your discards into boxes or bags labeled “throw away,” “sell” and “give away to a charity or friend.” “Throw away” is trash, old packing material and broken useless things. “Sell” is anything that might earn a few dollars at a garage or church sale. “Give away” is stuff others might want but you have grown tired of.

Collectibles you are keeping might need some special TLC:

  • Use warm water when cleaning, especially pottery and ceramics. Dramatic temperature changes may cause cracking or crazing.
  • Add a few drops of vinegar in dishwater to give glassware and crystal extra sparkle.
  • If you are washing items in the kitchen sink, line the sink with dish towel or rubber mats. It may protect items if they slip out of your hands. And watch out for that faucet — don’t chip anything by a careless movement.
  • Compressed air — often used to clean electronics — is great for blowing dirt off dolls, china and other delicate collectibles.
  • Wash china doll heads or hard plastic dolls with a mild soap like Ivory.
  • Clean porous pottery with wig bleach. Rub it on as you would soap and rinse.


Hopefully the spring cleaning and pruning won’t take too long … it is, after all, the time for flea markets and shows. The perfect opportunity, of course, to replenish your collections.

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