1. Microfiber Cloths: Your first line of defense when it comes to cleaning any sort of tabletop item that's just hanging out collecting dust is a microfiber cloth. They're good for getting rid of all that settled gunk and junk in a jiffy and don't carry the threat of water or chemicals with them.
2. Suck It Up!: A vacuum is a great way to dust in between the small crevices of small parts. You can check out this tutorial over at Unplggd to see how it's done and even though it's aimed at tech-related spaces, the trick works wonders for not sucking up Darth Vader's light saber.... again.
3. Here Comes Peter Cotton Swab: A small cotton swab and a damp rag can be a great combo when used in the right way. Press your cotton swap tip gently onto the cloth and then clean out the little hard to reach places. This works especially well for older finds that are brought home from a garage sale or auction.
4. Take Cover!: There's no shame in keeping your collection in an enclosed space. Adopt a china hutch from Craigslist and paint it a cool color and presto — instant collection holder. You can buy specific display pieces from big box retailers, but they always feel like they belong in a show room instead of a home. You can also stash things in glass canning (for small collections) or cracker (for larger ones) jars. We even use a clear cookie jar with a silver lid to hold our Hot Wheels (don't judge!).
5. Last Resort: When all else fails, you can resort to using more traditional methods of washing. Although we like to stay away from such things to preserve the integrity of our things, sometimes, there's just no avoiding it. If your piece can be placed in water, fill your sink with a few drops of hand soap and rug with a soft towel. If your things can't be dipped in water, try a solution of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water. Add it to a spray bottle and make sure it's on the "mist" setting. Spray one spritz and wipe down immediately with a dry, soft towel. Continue until piece is clean.
If you have a particularly difficult collection to clean, let us know what it is below and we'll try to share our thoughts on getting it spic and span!
(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)