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Dusting the Old Thing

No, we’re not being facetious here. Our name may be Dusty Old Thing but, let’s face it…we do dust. We may love antique furniture dust covered when hunting through treasures in old barns or those wonderful antique shops where things seem to have been lost in time, but at home we don’t want the dust too obvious…at least to visiting relatives.

Dusting furniture may seem like just a normal thing to do. Most of us tend to do it pretty much like our parents did it. We might grab an old dusting cloth (called “rags” at our house and usually made of old pjs) or a duster and just go swoosh over the surfaces. Some of us may have used dusting sprays that were supposed to make everything shiny bright or special chemically treated cloths.

But, is there a right way to dust antique furniture?

We consulted the website of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works for the advice of experts. They recommend that antique wood furniture (other than pieces that were painted, gilded, lacquered, or with loose veneers or unstable pieces) be given a thin coat of paste wax once a year. This is their advice on dusting:

“Once a protective coat of wax has been applied, dry dusting with a soft cloth is recommended for routine cleaning. Dust and dirt are harmful to finished surfaces and should be regularly removed as they can scratch or otherwise damage polished surfaces. A soft cotton cloth or artistís brush is best for dusting. Feather dusters are not recommended for dusting as the feathers tend to get caught in cracks and crevices and can cause detachment of fragile veneers and gilding. A clean cloth slightly dampened in water may help to remove more stubborn dirt. When dusting, be cautious in areas with loose elements such as veneers, moldings, and metal mounts.

They also give a word of caution on the use of oils and polishes which may, in fact, trap dirt and grime or darken the wood.

So, yes, we dust…once the piece is at home. But we still love finding those dusty old pieces in barns and at the back of shops where time has forgotten them.

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