I’m often asked by collectors about the proper way to clean a Precious Moments figurine. Sometimes the piece needs only a bit of light dusting, while other times it definitely needs a thorough washing with a more intense effort on your part. I’ll touch briefly on both degrees of dust and grim build-up. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
First, I’ll tackle the everyday dusting of your figurines. Before starting any cleaning, I like to take out something soft to place on my working area to act as a bit of a cushion in case a figurine is accidently dropped. A folded up blanket, throw or towel works well, as does a piece of foam, if you happen to have one. To remove a light coating of dust, a small paint brush with soft bristles, a make-up brush, or even a shaving brush can be used to get into the crevices and other hard-to-reach places. Brushes that have soft bristles work well, but they still need to have a bit of stiffness to be most effective. Take your time; it’s not a race, as you don’t want to break off anything delicate.
In addition to using a brush, I’ve found it helpful to simply blow into the tight areas as well. It’s surprising what you can blow off if you blow hard enough. Another option is to buy a can of gas duster, known as compressed air, which is commonly used on electronic equipment, keyboards and such around the home or office. Canned air can easily be found sold at an office supply store under several different brand names. It just may keep you from getting dizzy and/or hyperventilating if you have a lot of figurines to "blow" clean. Always carefully read the directions prior to using.
If the dust is a bit thicker or kind of crusted on, use a soft damp cloth that’s been dipped in warm water with a small amount of mild dish washing soap or baby shampoo added. Ring it out well. Take care not to have the cloth too wet, and never submerge the figurine itself into the water. I’ve found that smooth cotton material seems to work the best. I’ve been disappointed with most of the disposable dusting clothes available for sale, as they occasionally leave a bit of fuzz behind. When gently wiping, be especially careful if the figurine has any delicate porcelain flowers or other unusual features such as a string, metal chain or plastic embellishment. Also, some figurines, primarily older ones with gold paint accents, may be damaged with the use of water. If at all in doubt, be extra careful, test on a portion not very obvious, or else just leave it alone altogether. It is extremely important to make sure your figurines are completely dry if you’re going to be packaging them up or placing them on a surface that could be damaged by the moisture, such as a wood shelf.
If you have a wide variety of figurines other than Precious Moments to clean, such as those made of cold-cast resin, polymer, porcelain bisque, glazed porcelain, ceramic, etc, you may want to check the manufacturer’s website, as many have cleaning instructions specific to a collection right on their website.
I’ve found that keeping the majority of my collectible items inside glass curio cabinets really cuts down on the amount of dust that builds up. However, the dust still seems to find a way inside to coat everything with a very fine layer. The better the doors seal tight, the less the dust will sneak inside. Another way to reduce the need to dust is to display only a portion of your collection at a time, while storing the rest in boxes. Many collectors rotate their figurines based on the seasons. Also, have you changed the furnace filter lately if you have a forced air heating and cooling unit? It’s amazing what changing your filter more often with a high quality electrostatic air filter can do for cutting down on the amount of dust flying around the house. An added benefit is that it reduces pollen, pet dander, mold and other allergens.
Well, I hope you learned at least one new idea here that you can use in your own home. Cleaning my collectibles is one of the last chores I choose to do, but sometimes a guy or gal just has to roll up his or her sleeves and tackle the project, because no one else will, trust me. And if you’re like me, you’ll receive a sense of satisfaction knowing you’ve done the job well. So, once done with the dirty task, go ahead and pat yourself on the back and celebrate your accomplishment with a nice big sweet and tasty treat. You deserve it. Enjoy! John
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