Antique hair brushes are some of the loveliest types of antiques around. Some are plated in real silver with ornate designs; others have porcelain backs with detailed patterns or intricate floral motifs. They are often part of a set which contains a matching comb and mirror, and more often than not they show signs of the many years they have withstood. Regardless, you can make them look clean and well-preserved, without sacrificing any of their rare features.
Make the water as hot as you can stand without causing yourself pain, and pour it into the bowl. Carefully submerge the antique brush in the water. Lightly rub the bristles of the brush and the back or spine of the brush with your fingertips.
Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the water. Mix the baking soda and water with your hand. Submerge the brush again and massage the bristles and spine of the brush gently with your fingertips.
Rinse the brush with fresh hot water and place to drip dry on a clean, soft towel. If the back of the brush is porcelain, use a few teaspoons of lemon juice and some swabs of cotton wool to remove stains. If the back is silver, use a few drops of toothpaste.
If your antique brushes are heavily stained, you might consider using Oxi-clean on your items. While the company claims it's gentle enough for antique lace, still be careful, as it is a powerful detergent.
Never use bleach on antiques. It could destroy them. Be careful when cleaning something that has been restored once already. You could ruin it.