Many family heirlooms are passed from mother to daughter for generations. Learn
how to care for these family heirlooms so you can pass them on to your daughter.
Family heirlooms are passed through generations for decades, sometimes even
centuries. While some family heirlooms are passed from father to son or without
consideration of gender, many are passed from mothers to daughters. If you’ve
recently inherited a family heirloom and want to learn how to preserve it so that you
can pass it down to your own daughter one day, we can help you. Keep reading to
learn some tips for taking care of family heirlooms.
Clean Them Up
If your family heirloom has been in the family for generations, it’s probably gotten a
little dirty, whether it be a photograph, footstool, or quilt. We’re often careful with
family heirlooms and display them in a place of honor or pack them away for
safekeeping, forgetting that they need regular care just like our everyday household
Once you’ve inherited your heirloom, learn how to clean it properly. You can clean
old photographs with a soft brush and photo cleaning spray. Wear gloves the entire
time and ask for professional help if stains are persistent. Clean footstools or other
kinds of wooden furniture with mild detergent. Ask a professional for assistance as
needed and use a paste furniture wax every year to keep your piece in good
condition. Cleaning a quilt is a little more intense; you’ll need to soak it in a mixture of
warm water and laundry detergent before allowing it to air dry. Stains will require
Organize and Label
Once your family heirloom is clean, you need to organize and label it. While you may
remember the memories associated with viewing your great-great-grandfather’s
photograph, sitting on your great-grandmother’s footstool, or sleeping under your
aunt’s quilt, your daughter and her children won’t. Organize heirlooms like pictures
and letters in waterproof books, making copies for preservation and future
generations, and label them as you organize them. Some items, like wooden
furniture and quilts, won’t be easy to organize, but you can either take a picture of
them and label the back or place a small piece of tape in an unseen area with a short
description written on it.
Families tend to either store precious heirlooms away for protection or leave them
out for everyone to see and admire. Your choice between those options will depend
on your storage space, display space, and the condition of your heirlooms. If you
have a cool, dry, protected storage space, you can put heirlooms in poor condition
there. Either take pictures of each heirloom so that you can safely admire them or
arrange a schedule to remove them from storage and share their stories with others.
If your heirloom is in good condition and you have a safe place to display it away
from harsh sunlight or accident-prone areas like fireplaces, you can put it out for
everyone to see.
Our three tips for taking care of family heirlooms will allow you to preserve them and
one day pass them on to your own daughter. While heirlooms cannot capture your
family’s full history, these special objects can hold generations of love that you and
your daughter will be grateful to have.