How to Clean Metals: It’s Thanksgiving. You’ve bought the best, biggest Turkey you can afford, the house looks fabulous, even your lampshades look good enough to eat off, and the kitchen is so sparkly you almost need sunglasses to work in it. You open a draw to pull out your best silver, and – surprise, surprise – it’s tarnished black!
Have no fear – help is here! In this section, I’ll tell you the best way to clean silver and all sorts of other metals to boot!
Here are a couple of foolproof methods for cleaning off that tarnish.
1. Lay a piece of aluminium foil on the bottom of a glass dish, pour over a quart of hot water, add a tablespoon of baking soda, mix it up a little and then place in your tarnished silver. The chemical reaction between the foil and the silver will remove the tarnish. Be careful, though, not to do this on raised designs or you will lose the darkened accenting of the patterns.
2. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one of water. Now grab a soft cloth and gently rub the paste onto the surface of your silverwork. The tarnish will disappear in front of your eyes! Once it’s done, rinse off the piece in a little warm water, leave to dry, and then buff over it with a soft cloth to bring back the shine.
Here’s a great way to make your gold gleam as new:
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Rub the paste on the surface of the gold with a soft cloth and then rinse in warm water. Once it’s dry, buff with a chamois until it’s shiny.
Ash from a grate can be substituted for the baking soda if preferred (bit messy, I think– but it works).
You can strip any cracked or peeling lacquer from coated brass with a solution of one cup of baking soda to two gallons of boiling water. Let the brass soak in a bucket of this mixture until the water cools down. Then lift out the item and peel off the lacquer with your fingers.
To clean brass-work, make a paste from a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of white vinegar, and then rub this onto the item using a soft cloth. Alternatively, you can dip half a lemon into a dish of salt and then rub that on the surface. Once rubbed down, wash the item in bowl of warm soapy water. Leave it to dry and then buff it up to a shine with a soft cloth or chamois.
You can clean copper in exactly the same way as brass, but there is also another way.
Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar to a tablespoon of salt to make a cleaner. Wash the item in this solution and then rinse it off in warm water. Once dry, buff it up until glistening.
As it stains so easily, wash food containers and flatware made from pewter immediately after use.
Avoid pewter having contact with any acidic foods, vinegars, salts, or salad dressings as these may blacken and corrode the metal. Also, never put this metal in a dishwasher. Instead, handwashing it in warm water with a mild detergent is all that is needed.
Polished pewter (the shiny, smooth type) can be cleaned using a paste made from one cup of flour to two cups of white vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Rub it all over your pewter with a cloth, let it dry on the surface, and then rinse off the paste with warm soapy water. Finally, thoroughly dry your item with a soft, clean cloth. Do this every couple of years or so and your pewter with be display-case perfect!
Amazingly, an old-fashioned cleaning method was to rub the metal with the outer leaves from a head of cabbage! Seriously! If you want to try this yourself, here’s what to do:
Dampen some cabbage leaves in white vinegar. Dip them in salt and then scrub your pewter clean with the leaves. When finished, rinse the item in water with a mild detergent, and then wipe thoroughly with a soft cloth until dry.
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