During festivals, many of us enjoy celebrating by brightening up our homes with beautiful decorations; in fact, we often carefully pack up our favourite ornaments once it’s all over for reuse next year.
But how do we ensure our decorations will stay looking clean and bright year after year? One of the best festive cleaning tips we can give you is to always clean your decorations thoroughly before putting them back in storage so that they look great when you next come to use them.
Any dirt or grime is sure to give our lights a dark and dull look when really they should be shining bright. The best methods, and the best cleaning products, really depend upon the type of decorations you have.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular decorations, and the best ways to clean them:
When cleaning very old or delicate ornaments, it’s important to test your chosen cleaning solution first on a very small area, and to read any instructions to check that it is suitable – some cleaning solutions, particularly homemade options, can be too abrasive for fragile belongings.
No list of festive preparations tips would be complete without mentioning candles!
While you may not think that these need cleaning, a close look at candles often reveals that they’re actually quite dirty and dusty, especially if you’ve been keeping them in storage for a while. Dirty candles can even cause an unwelcome odour when you light them as all that dust begins to burn, which isn’t very festive.
Cleaning candles is easy. If dust is the only problem, a quick wipe with a cloth will have this sorted in seconds. However, if your candles are actually dirty, wipe them with a small amount of rubbing alcohol, rubbing just up until the colour of the candle starts to show on your cloth. Of course, alcohol and flames don’t mix well, so use a clean cloth to dry your candle, and leave it in the open air overnight to dry completely before using. If any dirt remains, you can use a spoon to very gently scrape off a small amount of the wax, but be careful not to dig too deep.
2) Glass Candle Holders
Small glass dishes make perfect holders for little tea light candles and can be placed on your dinner table to brighten up your festive family meal. Unfortunately, if the glass becomes dusty and dirty, you may not get the glow and ambience you’re hoping for.
Fortunately, cleaning glass candle holders is simple.
If you remove the tea lights from their glass holders, you can then wash the holders as you would wash a regular drinking glass – with warm water and your dishwashing liquid. If there is any waxy residue from previous candles, you can gently scrape this from the glass using a spoon. You should find that a dishwashing liquid like Vim is great at cutting through the oils in the wax to remove stains. For the ultimate in crystal clear glassware, rinse your glass holder with a solution of white vinegar and water and buff with a clean, dry cloth to remove watermarks and smears.
3) Painted Diyas
Some of us opt to buy our diyas from shops, and some of us are even guilty of buying new ones each year to avoid having to dig out last year’s diyas from storage. However, those of us who have a handcrafted clay diya – one made by our kids for example – often find that it has such sentimental value that we find ourselves using it year after year. So how do we keep it looking clean?
The reason cleaning painted diyas is somewhat tricky is that some of the more powerful cleaning chemicals can strip the paint right off. Instead, we should be using gentler methods that protect the design. One great tip is to use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove surface dust and dirt. If your diya is decorated with the usual child-friendly water-based paints, never use water – instead, wipe with a cloth to get into the nooks and crannies and remove any dirt the vacuum failed to pick up. If oil-based paint was used, a bit of warm water on a cloth will work wonders.
4) Paper Lanterns
Like diyas, paper lanterns are something many of us tend to buy new each year, especially since these are so fragile that they often rip and tear in storage. However, if you have a very large and ornate lantern, or if you’ve inherited a very special one, you’ll want to keep it strong and clean so that you can hang it each year to celebrate the festival. But how can you wash paper safely?
Your two main options for cleaning paper lanterns are a vacuum cleaner (using the soft brush attachment to avoid damage), or a tube of compressed air – the sort that you find in computer stores for cleaning in between the keys of keyboards. Adjust the settings on these so that you can gently blow any dust and dirt off the paper. Alternatively, you could try a more unusual method – white bread. Although it sounds strange, some museums swear by bread for cleaning historical manuscripts – a method that has been used since the Middle Ages. Simply wipe the bread across the paper, and it will absorb any dirt and dust. It’s odd, but it’s a relatively safe and very affordable method for cleaning very fragile paper lanterns.
When you take your festive decorations down, it’s so easy to just put them in boxes and say: “I’ll clean those next year” – but try to think ahead. When you come to open those boxes next year and find them full of clean, bright, and sparkling decorations, you’ll thank your past self for taking the time to do it. It doesn’t take long, and it’s so easy: just follow the advice above.