Dry Steam, Ultrasonic Cleaners Aid Figurine Restoration: A Case Study
95% of figurines were able to be salvaged.
Microwave ovens are modern conveniences we take for granted, but unfortunately, as one homeowner from Western New York recently found out, they can be very dangerous.
Rainbow International of Monroe County was called in after a woman’s home was badly burned when her microwave burst into flames, lighting her kitchen on fire. Smoke and soot had blanketed the interior of the 4,000 square-foot home along with thousands of figurines and dolls that the homeowner had collected.
According to franchise owner Bob Cobb, the homeowner had been collecting these dolls for many years, and the fire damage caused her much distress.
The entire first floor of the home was gutted and the second floor had ceilings that had to come down. The rest of the home was cleaned and painted, and the dolls and figurines were meticulously cleaned.
“Normally contents to be cleaned are packed out to a cleaning facility, but our four-man crew cleaned for four weeks inside the home,” added Cobb. “A no pack-out strategy was used in this situation because it reduced packing material costs and, more importantly, lessened the chance of damage to the figurines and dolls.”
A high-pressure, low-moisture dry steam cleaner was used to clean the collection. Commercial vapor steam cleaners use an internal boiler to heat water under pressure, which causes the steam produced to be extremely dry (5% moisture), hot (220 degrees at the point of contact) and very fine (down to a particulate size of .0006 microns). Commercial steam cleaners sanitize and deodorize surfaces without chemicals.
In conjunction with the steam cleaner, an ultrasonic cleaning system was used. An ultrasonic washer is a cleaning device that uses ultrasound and a cleaning solvent to clean delicate items. In an ultrasonic, the object to be cleaned is placed in a tank. Ultrasonic cleaning uses high-frequency sound waves to agitate in a liquid. Cavitation bubbles induced by the agitation act on contaminants adhering to substrates like metals, glass and, in this case, ceramics. The equipment effectively penetrates holes, cracks and recesses for the ultimate clean.
With an ultrasonic cleaner, five to 20 items can be cleaned in three to four minutes, versus cleaning by hand, which can take three to five minutes per item. Ultrasonic cleaners are used to clean many different types of objects including jewelry, optical lenses, watches, dental instruments and electronic equipment.
“The heat had unfortunately cracked some of the figurines, but we were able to save 95% of them,” said Cobb. “The homeowner was very pleased with the results and with the successful cleaning and deodorization of her home.”