Looking after Decorative Ceramics

Our head conservation housekeeper's top three tips for looking after your decorative ceramics.

Firstly, in terms of display, try to avoid placing ceramics in high foot traffic areas, as this increases the likelihood of breakages. Displaying items behind glass will help keep them clean, and using museum wax to secure the base of a piece will stop it moving or sliding on a shelf.

Secondly, in regards to picking up decorative ceramics, if possible, always wear non-slip museum gloves to provide good grip. Remove any separate parts first (such as a lid), and avoid picking up pieces by their handles – which sounds counterintuitive, but handles are often fragile and can be weak. You should always pick up an object up by its most solid part, and of course use two hands.

Finally, when cleaning ceramics, the best way to do this is to dust it gently with a microfiber cloth, using a small soft brush for intricate or detailed areas. Do not use water unless the piece is glazed and you are absolutely sure there are no cracks, as water will seep through and cause damage. If you do use water, gently drying the object with a cool hairdryer is a good way to dry it safely. (If you are not sure how to clean an item, always seek professional help.)