How To Care for Pewter

Also known as Britannia metal, pewter has immense beauty and charm, and it can be crafted into countless items including works of art, chess pieces, plates and other items of interest. It is an alloy of tin, copper and antimony, and modern pewter will not become discolored or tarnished. However, antique pewter can develop a brown appearance, but it is fairly easy to clean. However, pewter of any age is not entirely maintenance-free. Even modern pewter requires occasional care and cleaning to continue looking good. With proper care and maintenance, pewter items of all shapes, ages, styles and sizes can look like new for years to come.

Step 1

Precautionary Statement - Pewter contains lead, and plates, cups and any utensils made from pewter should never be used for food preparation, eating or drinking. They should be used for decorative purposes only. Also, if unsure of the finish, test any product, store-bought or homemade, in a small inconspicuous area before cleaning or polishing using the following easy care instructions and tips.

Step 2

Care with regular maintenance. For the most part, pewter does not require weekly or even monthly care and cleaning. Regular pewter care simply involves dusting. Invest in a very soft brush to remove dust and grime from designs and crevices, and use a soft micro-fiber cloth to polish the surface each week. This is generally all it takes to care for trinkets and other items on display, and if it is modern it should stay looking as beautiful as ever. On the other hand, old pewter contains a higher level of tin and lead, and it will no-doubt require a little more care to clean, restore and maintain its antique beauty.

Step 3

Care for and clean a polished finish. Powdered commercial cleaners are available for pewter care, cleaning and polishing. Follow product label instructions when using any type of commercial cleaner. Alternately, homemade cleaner can be made and used to clean, care for and shine a bright polished pewter finish. Simply mix together powdered whiting and denatured alcohol. Powdered whiting can be found in the laundry care aisle of most major stores. Mix the alcohol and the whiting to create a thick paste, and apply it gently using a clean soft cloth. Use a soft brush to get into any nooks and crannies. Rinse the pewter thoroughly, and polish it dry with another clean soft cloth. It will shine brilliantly.

Step 4

Clean and care for a dull finish. Care for a dull matte finish by cleaning it with a mixture of rottenstone and vegetable oil. Rottenstone is decomposed powdered limestone, and it can be found in most wood craft stores and hardware stores. Create a thick paste, wash the item gently, and rinse it thoroughly. Dry it with a clean soft cloth. With gentle cleaning and care it should look as good as new.

Step 5

Remove tarnish from old pewter. Tarnish is stubborn discoloration, and when examining antique pewter it can be identified by a brown dull tint. Although it will come back, it can be removed. Simply wash a tarnished piece with washing soda. Ordinary washing soda such as Borax can be found in some grocery stores, or it can be ordered online. Rinse the piece thoroughly, and polish it using a soft cloth. This is not guaranteed to remove discoloration from an antique piece that has been tarnished for years, but it is a safe method that often works. Extra-fine (1000) steel wool and vegetable oil can also be used to polish tarnish from antique pewter, but use caution with this method. Test it in an inconspicuous area before rubbing the entire piece.

Pewter really is very easy to care for, once it has been restored to its former glory. It is very versatile, and the finish and rich gray color is unlike any other material. With proper care, continual dusting, and occasional cleaning, all of your pewter items can remain looking almost as good as new.

This article was provided by Lisa Jordan who writes for - a site carrying quality metal wall art, metal wall hangings and metal art sculptures.

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