The nativity scene can often be one of the most treasured decorations at Christmas time. Whether you spend hours arranging all the pieces to create the perfect nativity, or you prefer to sit back and watch as the children arrange the nativity in the way they like, it is a great way to tell the old story of the birth of baby Jesus before Christmas.
Nativity scenes come in a variety of different materials, but one of the most popular materials is delicate porcelain figures. While porcelain is beautiful and exquisite to look at, it is easily broken and over time can attract dust and marks. In order to keep your porcelain figurines in good condition, it is important to know how to properly clean them without damaging the porcelain. Take a look at our helpful guide on caring for your porcelain nativity set.
Dusting and Washing the Figurines
Before washing the figurines, you want to get rid of any excess dust. Remove most of the dust with a plain dry cloth. You can then use a small, soft-bristle brush to get dust out from any small holes or crevices on the figurine (i.e.; the folds on Mary’s dress). A cotton bud will also work well for small holes and cracks. When it comes to washing, make sure to always wash your figurines in warm water. If the water is too hot or too cold, you risk damaging the porcelain.
It is also a good idea to use a plastic bowl or a container with a rubber interior, so as to avoid chipping or damaging the porcelain when you wash them. Wash them gently by hand with a mild detergent, then gently rinse them and place them on paper towels to drip dry.
Natural Cleaners to Remove Stains and Marks
If there are any stains or marks on your porcelain, you will want to gently sprinkle the affected area with some baking powder and then gently rub at it with a damp sponge. Be careful not to be too rigorous as the baking powder acts as an abrasive and can be damaging if you work too hard. For more stubborn stains, you can add a little vinegar and leave the mixture on the stain for about fifteen-twenty minutes, before washing the figurines as normal.
No Bleach/Abrasive Cleaners
Porcelain is incredibly delicate and bleach and abrasive cleaners can wash out the natural beautiful colours of the figurines and leave nasty scratch marks on the polished surface. Never use bleach or abrasive cleaners to clean porcelain, even if there are tough stains or residue present on the figure. There are special porcelain cleaners you can purchase that will help to get rid of tougher stains, so use them where necessary.
Storing your Figurines
Once your figurines have been cleaned and are thoroughly dry, you’ll want to place them in a secure container so that they are safe and ready for next year. Cotton wool makes a great source of padding and it can also prevent dust from sticking to the figurines so wrapping each figure gently in cotton wool before placing them in a container is always a good idea.
Lining a plastic box with rubber or other insulation is also a good idea, as although you may be delicate with packing them now, you might forget in the future and you don’t want to open the box only to find a collection of broken figurines staring sadly up at you. Any container will do fine, so long as the figurines are neatly packed and well covered with cotton wool or bubble wrap so that they cannot move or roll about.
Although they are only taken out once a year, like every kind of decoration, porcelain figurines can get dirty and dusty with years of use. It is important to make sure they are well looked after and nicely cleaned and dried before storing them in a good place, so that they are bright and ready for when you get them out next year. Christmas is a great time of year, so why not make it a little extra special by taking good care of your porcelain nativity figures so that you can enjoy them for many years to come?
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property and interior design sector – working together with a selection of specialist companies including The Chinaman, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.