Cleaning lacquer

Over the weekend, a visitor to the house asked about how we clean our lacquered items as she also had a piece of chinoiserie at home.  It was explained that we vacuum them very lightly with a special brush and low-suction vacuum.  The lady then proceeded to ask how we polish the items as she used beeswax.  This provoked a gentleman standing nearby to remark that we probably didn’t do it in quite the same way.  In fact, the National Trust Manual of Housekeeping (the essential manual for National Trust properties up and down the country) doesn’t recommend any kind of polish.  Only dusting and even then only if the dust is affecting the presentation of a flat surface, like a chair or table.

This story illustrates that it can be difficult for people without knowledge of conservation skills and techniques to know how best to clean an antique piece of furniture.  If you also have a piece of lacquered furniture and are wondering what is the best way to clean it, or you would like to just find out more about the techniques we use at Osterley, read on. Continue reading