The Preservation Handbook Online

Table of Contents

I. Preservation
II. Assessment
III. Collection Assessment
IV. Agents of Deterioration
V. Monitoring collections
VI. Materials
VII. Storage
VIII. Conservation
IX. Disaster Planning
X. Housekeeping
XI. Resources / Suppliers
XII. Preservation Grants


Establishing cleaning schedules and outlining safe cleaning procedures should be an institutional goal. Effective cleaning programs require staff that are involved and knowledgeable. Cleaning procedures will be different for archives, museums, and historical sites. Most museums and some archives have cleaning crews that never come in contact with collection objects. Living history sites however, rely heavily on collection use for interpretation. Staff and volunteers are involved in handling and caring for historical objects. Relying on modern cleaning procedures alone might result in damage to the collection. Knowing your collection and documenting object history will enhance the quality of care the staff will be able to provide. All staff should be given proper training and proper tools. Basic Cleaning Kits should be assembled.

The first steps would be onsite introductions to the buildings and content, an overview of the properties and needs of the artifacts, and training in care, handling and safe cleaning techniques. Implementing a cleaning schedule will prevent possible oversight or unnecessary duplication. A general housecleaning schedule should address daily, weekly, monthly, biannual, and seasonal cleaning tasks. Some tasks will require more, or less, attention depending on ambient conditions and level of facility use. Example cleaning schedule.

Handling reproduction and utilitarian items will be different than historical pieces. Creating an in-house manual on cleaning will help consolidate efforts by all departments, ensure safe practices, and help to assess and improve housekeeping practices. The Ontario Museum Association recommends two sources for contemporary and historical housekeeping reference.xiv

*Treatment and cleaning procedures of historic objects should be discussed with a conservator.


XIV Sandwith, H. and Stainton, S.. (1993) National trust manual of housekeeping. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books.
& Jefferies, B.G. and J.L. Nichols. (1894) Household guide or domestic encyclopedia. Canada: Coles Canadiana Collection.