Cleaning Precious Objects

Cleaning Precious Objects

Although most people dislike having to use valuable leisure time doing housework and cleaning, it’s a necessary fact of life. Sometimes, however, cleaning a precious object can bring enormous pleasure. When I say precious I don’t necessarily mean valuable in monetary terms, to me precious is more an emotional term! Take for example a bashed old brass vase I found some years ago covered in verdigris (that green mould like stuff). It really needed a good clean to bring it back to its original glory.

Brass & Copper

There are many methods of cleaning brass, many of them based around acid of various strengths or mild abrasives. Mild stains can be erased using a lemon cut in half then dipped in salt and rubbed over the piece being cleaned. The same results can be gained with vinegar and salt on a cleaning cloth. A more aggressive method is to use spirits of salts (dilute Hydrochloric acid) either as a dip or rubbed on with a cloth.

Remember that spirits of salts is corrosive and very poisonous so make sure that you wear protective clothing like rubber gloves, goggles and a rubber apron. Use outdoors or in a well ventilated area.

After cleaning with any of the above methods make sure you rinse the article being cleaned in water, then dry well. To save maintenance cleaning, you can coat the entire surface you have cleaned with clear lacquer or a clear coat of spray plastic. Personally I prefer to keep the metal in its natural state and give it a buff up occasionally using a metal polish such as Brasso. Copper objects can be restored using the same methods.


Pewter is another metal alloy used for ornaments found in the home. Usually it is sufficient to wash pewter in warm soapy water to keep it looking good. Remember that pewter usually has a matt glow finish rather than a high shine. However if your preferences are for shiny objects then you can buy special pewter polishes for the job. Do not use regular metal polishes unless they specify   that they can be used on pewter.


Very dirty bronze can be cleaned by using elbow grease (hard work) and paraffin.  Rubber gloves are a good idea when using paraffin. Using an old metal bowl or tin about a quarter full of paraffin and an old cloth wash the bronze object until clean, an old tooth or nail brush will come in handy. Dry and polish to a nice bright finish. Sometimes using a little shoe polish is a way of giving that extra sheen to bronze after cleaning. Just apply with a soft cloth and buff in the same way as you would shoes.


Save money on metal polishes if you want to clean chrome – plain flour from the kitchen will do a grand job! Use a damp cloth, dip it into the flour and polish the chrome then just buff off, it’s as easy as that.