lamps

How to clean and restore antique lamps

How to clean and restore antique lamps

You may have thought those tarnished lamps you’ve stumbled upon in the attic were beyond repair, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be true. More often than not, it is entirely possible to clean and restore antique lamps to their former glory. Depending on the scope of damages, you’ll potentially require professional help to get them done successfully. However, if the goal is to bring a dash of luxury to your home, it will all prove worth it in the end.

But nobody said there was absolutely nothing you could do to improve the appearance of your vintage table lamps! Should you want to take more of a DIY approach, this article will clarify where to start to make that happen.

Begin by giving the lamp a gentle clean

If your lamp has been sitting unattended for a while, chances are time has already taken its toll. Perhaps, the shade and the metal have suffered damages. But instead of repairing those, let’s focus on getting the piece clean first. Typically, cleaning methods will vary depending on the material of the lamp. Yet, literally nothing can go wrong if you gently wipe it with a soft cloth. By doing this, you’ll remove the majority of accumulated dust and debris.

For more thorough cleaning, resort to a mixture of dishwashing soap and water. Submerge a cloth into the solution, making sure to squeeze out the excess liquid before going over the lamp with it. Once you’re done, don’t forget to dry it completely to avoid damaging the patina.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when cleaning antique lamps:

  • Use cloths made strictly out of non-abrasive materials! Microfiber ones work best, along with old T-shirts. The same can’t be said for paper towels, though, as they can easily scratch your valuables.
  • If you are dealing with a table lamp with iron parts, it’s recommended to avoid cleaning it with a soaked cloth. This material is highly susceptible to corrosion. Therefore, exposing it to water is bound to damage it further.
  • With painted lamps, you can never be sure whether or not the paint will dissolve in the midst of cleaning. Never soak the whole thing, but rather stick to sectional cleaning of the dirtiest parts with the help of Q-tips and diluted dishwashing liquid.
  • As far as crystal lamps and hand-blown glass lamps are concerned, the same rules apply to them. Clean them using warm, soapy water if there is no paint on them. If yes, again, Q-tips are your best friend.
A brightly colored Tiffany lamp
A piece of advice when cleaning antique lamps coated with paint: Never submerge them in water as paint could potentially dissolve.

Scrub away, if necessary

If you’ve tried everything in your power to clean and restore antique lamps, but some spots still remain, perhaps the only option you have is to scrub away at them until they disappear. Remember not to overdo it, though! A nylon brush is usually effective at removing tough stains without leaving any unwanted marks.

Apply a finish

Once you’ve properly cleaned your posh lamp, it’s time to give it new life by applying finish. Apply an even coat of it, and wait for it to dry thoroughly before adding another one. Not only will a fresh coat of finish improve the way your precious lamp looks, but it will also protect it against future harm.

Consider replating the lamp

If your silver or nickel-plated lamp is too damaged to salvage, you might want to consider getting it replated. This process, however, should be your last resort, as it’s rather toxic and, in some states, even regulated by law. Should you choose to go through with it, it’s not something you can do on your own. Professional help is needed due to toxicity. In addition, the previous finish will have to be removed for the new one to take its place.

Leave the repair of antique lamps to the experts

While cleaning is something you can take care of yourself, the same can’t be said about repairing. Being decades old, some even more than a hundred years old, these antique pieces surely aren’t wired the same way a standard lamp would be. When left in the hands of inexperienced people, they are real electric and fire hazards.

Even if you were able to somehow repair it, it would be impossible to test it properly. Only licensed personnel possess the necessary testing equipment – the one that can ensure your lamp is genuinely safe and ready to use!

We’ve already mentioned time as one of the reasons antique lamps get damaged in the first place. What we didn’t say, however, is that it isn’t the sole one. Relocations are another big culprit to them needing repair. To prevent possible in-transit accidents, always move with experts you can completely depend on!

 A lamp sitting on a piano
Should your table lamp require fixing, never attempt fixing it yourself! Instead, leave the hard work to professionals!

Get missing or broken parts replaced

If any parts end up getting broken, you’ll have to contact someone to replace them. Original parts aren’t as common these days, though. This means that a handyman will probably have to be creative in choosing one that fits the piece to make it whole again.

There isn’t anything to do about previous damages, but since getting suitable parts could prove troublesome, it’s best to prevent future ones from occurring. Doing that while relocating, for example, isn’t that difficult; Provided you’ve got someone experienced with moving luxury lamps – someone like Sky Moving – catering to them.

A white, vintage lamp situated next to a bed
It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your lamp’s safety. Do everything in your power to prevent future damages!

Replace regular bulbs with LEDs

It’s more than acceptable to incorporate antique touches into modern design. The same is true of combining LED light bulbs with antique lamps. By switching the regular bulbs with their improved kind, you’re essentially expanding the life of your precious table lamp. But how can a simple bulb change guarantee such a thing? Well, since LEDs emit drastically less heat than old bulbs, they are less likely to burn the socket or the wiring. Talk about an effective and environmentally friendly way to clean and restore antique lamps!

Author’s Bio:

Lyla Jefferson is a freelance writer with a passion for all things interior design. She loves accumulating knowledge about the matter and implementing it in her own home. In her free time, she loves getting involved in DIY projects with her family.

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