Cheap ways to Keep your Antiques – Dr. Lori’s Antiques and Your Home


You don’t need to invest in expensive products in order to protect, clean, or display your fine art or antiques. Since we all have to watch our pennies in today’s economy, here are some money saving tips and little known tricks to keep your antiques in tip top shape.

At my antiques appraisal events nationwide, many of my audience members have complained that acid free tissue paper, a staple for storing antiques and collectibles, is too expensive. Plain white towel paper and plain coffee filters can, in some cases, be substituted more cheaply.

One of the most time saving, useful, and inexpensive items on the market is the coffee filter. A generic, plain white coffee filter can be used in many ways and help antiques lovers preserve their heirlooms.

When cleaning ceramic figures, coffee filters are small enough to get into tight spaces and strong. For mirrors or chrome, a coffee filter will accept a mild cleaning solution (like one part white vinegar to two parts distilled water) and its lint free construction will leave the mirror shining. Always remember to dust your mirror’s surface first and then clean with a liquid solution. As with any cleaning process, be sure to remove all of the liquid from the surface of the antique mirror.

I have often advised clients and audience members at my appraisal events that those circa 1960s foam china separators are damaging your fine dinnerware. The old fashioned foam separators can become discolored over time, gave off-gas acidity, and can stain your good china. To protect that set of fine china, you may want to try placing a piece of plain white towel paper or a plain white coffee filter (which is already circular-cut) between each china plate.

Coffee filters are strong enough to use when applying silver or brass polish. The other benefit of using them is that they won’t leave lint on your antique silver serving tray like a cotton rag will.

I really like the look of vintage textiles and I know many of you want to keep these aging treasures in good shape as long as possible. I fondly remember my Aunt Dorothy’s post-war style kitchen with the red and white tiles, Blue Ridge china, and Formica table. She decorated her home cheerfully with brightly colored printed café curtains. To pinch a penny, she used her sewing talent and her World War II-era ingenuity to reinforce the back of the curtains, table covers, and kitchen towels. She used sheets of paper towel or thin cotton cloth. By reinforcing the backside of these textiles, she extended their life—allowing me to enjoy them, today. I’m grateful she kept them in such good shape.

For crafters, coffee filters and sheets of plain towel paper are cheap sources for backing. These materials are easy-to-tear for embroidery or appliqué of fabrics, too. Of course, this reinforcement solution should not be used on valuable antique quilts or historic samplers. When in doubt, consult a professional textile conservator.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to clean, store, and protect your antiques, you just have to think outside the storage box.

Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. As seen on NBC’s The Tonight Show and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, watch Dr. Lori on Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act. For information about your antiques, visit, follow Dr. Lori at or call (888) 431-1010.


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