How to Clean Pewter: Tips and Techniques – A Comprehensive Guide

Pewter is a popular material for making decorative objects and tableware. It has a beautiful, grayish-silver color and a unique luster that people love. However, over time, pewter can lose its shine and develop tarnish due to exposure to air and moisture. This can be frustrating for those who want to keep their pewter looking as good as new. Fortunately, cleaning and polishing pewter is not rocket science. With the right materials and techniques, you can restore your pewter to its former glory. In this blog post, we will provide you with tips and techniques for cleaning pewter, including the dos and don’ts of pewter care, so that you can enjoy your pewter objects for years to come.

What is Pewter?

History of Pewter

Pewter has been prized for centuries due to its beauty and durability. Its history can be traced back to ancient civilizations, with evidence of pewter items found in archaeological digs from the Roman era. However, it was during the Middle Ages that pewter became particularly popular in Europe.

During this time, pewter was used to make a wide range of household items, such as plates, cups, and candlesticks. It was also used for decorative purposes, with intricate pewter figurines being created by skilled craftsmen. Pewter’s popularity was due to several factors, including its affordability compared to silver, its malleability, and its ability to hold intricate designs.

In England, pewter was particularly popular during the Tudor period. Many wealthy families would commission ornate pewter dinner services, which were often decorated with intricate patterns and engravings. These items were seen as a status symbol and were typically passed down through generations of a family.

However, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, the popularity of pewter declined. This was due to the introduction of mass-produced goods, which made pewter items less valuable and less desirable. Today, pewter is still used for decorative purposes and is prized by collectors for its historical significance.

Overall, the history of pewter is long and varied, with the material having played an important role in many different periods of history. From its origins in ancient civilizations to its popularity during the Middle Ages and Tudor period, pewter remains an important part of our cultural heritage.

Composition of Pewter

Pewter is a versatile alloy that has been used for centuries to make decorative and functional objects. The composition of pewter can vary depending on the intended use, but it typically consists of tin, copper, and antimony.

Tin is the main component of pewter and can make up anywhere from 85-99% of the alloy. Tin is a soft metal that is easy to work with and gives pewter its distinctive silvery-grey color. It also adds a level of malleability to the alloy, allowing it to be shaped into intricate designs.

Copper is another key ingredient in pewter, usually making up around 1-10% of the alloy. Copper is added to strengthen the pewter and improve its durability. It also gives the alloy a warm, reddish hue and can help prevent corrosion.

Antimony is added to pewter in small amounts (typically less than 1%) to improve its hardness and strength. Antimony also helps the pewter maintain its shape over time and prevents it from becoming too brittle.

The specific ratios of tin, copper, and antimony used in pewter can vary depending on the desired properties of the final product. For example, some pewter alloys may have higher copper content to create a warmer tone, while others may have more antimony to increase the strength of the alloy.

Overall, the composition of pewter is carefully balanced to create an alloy that is both beautiful and functional. Whether it’s used to make jewelry, tableware, or decorative objects, pewter is a timeless material that continues to be beloved by artisans and collectors alike.

Why Clean Pewter?

When it comes to maintaining the beauty and value of your pewter items, cleaning them regularly is crucial. But why clean pewter? The answer is simple. Pewter is a soft metal alloy made primarily of tin, which means it can easily tarnish and lose its luster over time. Not only does this affect its appearance, but it can also lead to corrosion and damage.

Cleaning pewter regularly not only helps prevent tarnishing, but it also removes any dirt, grease or other impurities that may accumulate on the surface. This is particularly important if you are using pewter items for serving food or beverages, as they can become contaminated with bacteria and germs if not cleaned properly.

Moreover, pewter items often hold sentimental or historical value, especially if they have been passed down through generations. By keeping them clean, you are preserving their beauty and ensuring they remain in excellent condition for years to come.

In short, cleaning your pewter items is essential to maintain their appearance, protect their value, and ensure their longevity. So, if you want to enjoy your pewter items for years to come, make sure to include regular cleaning in your maintenance routine.

Tips for Cleaning Pewter

Materials Needed

To clean pewter effectively, you’ll need to gather some basic materials beforehand. Here are the materials needed for cleaning pewter:

Materials Needed

Soft Cloth

A soft cloth is essential when cleaning pewter to prevent scratches or damage to the surface. Avoid using abrasive materials, such as steel wool or rough sponges, which can scratch or mar the metal.

Mild Soap

When it comes to cleaning pewter, mild soap is your best friend. Avoid using harsh detergents or strong chemicals, such as bleach or ammonia, which can corrode the metal and leave permanent stains. Instead, use a gentle soap, such as dishwashing liquid or castile soap, mixed with warm water.


Water is another crucial component of cleaning pewter. Use warm water to dissolve the soap and loosen any dirt or grime on the surface. Be careful not to use hot water, which can cause warping or discoloration of the metal.

By having these materials ready, you’re already halfway there to successfully cleaning your pewter. In the next section, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to clean pewter properly.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning pewter may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done easily and efficiently. Follow this step-by-step guide for cleaning pewter to keep your items looking their best.

1. Preparing the Pewter

Before you begin cleaning your pewter, it’s important to prepare the item properly. Start by removing any dust or debris with a soft cloth. Then, fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild soap. Place the pewter item in the water and let it soak for a few minutes.

2. Applying Cleaner

After the pewter has soaked, use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to gently scrub away any remaining dirt or tarnish. Be sure to use a cleaner specifically designed for pewter, as harsh chemicals can damage the item. Apply the cleaner evenly across the surface of the pewter, using circular motions.

3. Drying the Pewter

Once the item is clean, rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining cleaner. Pat the pewter dry with a clean, soft cloth, being careful not to scratch the surface. It’s important to dry the item completely to prevent water spots or other damage.

Following these steps will help ensure that your pewter items are kept clean and well-maintained. Remember to handle your pewter with care and avoid using abrasive materials, which can cause scratches or other damage. With a little effort and attention to detail, your pewter items will look beautiful for years to come.

Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Pewter

When it comes to cleaning pewter, there are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind. While pewter is a durable material, it can be easily damaged if you use the wrong cleaning products or techniques. Here are some tips to ensure your pewter stays in top condition:


  • Do use mild soap and water to clean your pewter. Harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia can cause pitting or discoloration.
  • Do use a soft cloth or sponge to gently clean your pewter. Avoid using abrasive materials or scrubbing too hard, as this can scratch the surface.
  • Do dry your pewter thoroughly after cleaning to prevent water spots or other damage.
  • Do store your pewter in a cool, dry place to prevent tarnishing.


  • Don’t use metal polishes or other harsh chemicals on your pewter. These can damage the surface and remove the patina.
  • Don’t put pewter items in the dishwasher, as the heat and detergents can cause damage.
  • Don’t soak pewter for long periods of time, as this can cause corrosion.

By following these dos and don’ts of cleaning pewter, you can ensure that your pewter stays in great condition for years to come. Remember to always use gentle cleaning methods and avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.

Polishing Pewter

Materials Needed

Materials Needed

To properly polish your pewter, you will need a few materials. Here is what you will need:

Pewter Polish

The most important material you will need for polishing pewter is a good quality pewter polish. There are many different types of polishes available on the market, but not all of them are suitable for use on pewter. Be sure to choose a polish that is specifically designed for use on pewter to ensure the best results.

Soft Cloth

You will also need a soft cloth to apply the polish. Microfiber cloths are an excellent choice because they are gentle and won’t scratch your pewter. Avoid using rough or abrasive cloths as these can damage your pewter’s surface.

Warm Water

You may also need warm water to rinse your pewter after polishing it. Be sure to use warm water, as cold water can cause your pewter to contract and crack.

Mild Soap

If your pewter is particularly dirty, you may want to use a mild soap to clean it before polishing. Be sure to choose a gentle soap that won’t harm your pewter’s surface.

By having these materials ready, you will be fully prepared to polish your pewter and restore its shine and luster. With the right materials and techniques, your pewter pieces will look beautiful for years to come.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide

If you want to keep your pewter looking shiny and new, then polishing it is a must. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to polish your pewter like a pro.

Materials Needed:

  • Pewter polish
  • Soft cloth or brush

Applying the Polish:

  1. Start by cleaning your pewter thoroughly with soap and water, then dry it carefully.
  2. Apply a small amount of pewter polish to your soft cloth or brush.
  3. Gently rub the polish onto the surface of the pewter using circular motions.
  4. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the object evenly with the polish.
  5. If there are any hard-to-reach areas, you can use a cotton swab or toothbrush to apply the polish.
  6. Allow the polish to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Buffing the Pewter:

  1. Once the polish has dried, take a clean soft cloth and buff the pewter in circular motions.
  2. Use a gentle touch and don’t overdo it as too much force may damage the surface.
  3. You can also use an electric buffer if you have one, but be careful not to overheat the pewter.
  4. Keep buffing until you see that your pewter has regained its shine.

And that’s it! With these simple steps, you can easily polish your pewter to perfection and keep it looking great for years to come.

Storing Pewter

Storing Pewter

Storing pewter properly is essential to maintain its quality and prevent tarnishing. Here are some tips for storing pewter:

  1. Clean and dry your pewter thoroughly before storing it. Any moisture left on the surface can lead to tarnishing.

  2. Store your pewter in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. High humidity and temperature can cause discoloration and corrosion.

  3. Avoid wrapping your pewter in plastic or any material that can trap moisture. Instead, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper or cloth to prevent scratches and dust accumulation.

  4. If you need to stack your pewter items, use felt or rubber padding in between them to prevent scratching.

  5. Keep your pewter in a location where it won’t be bumped or jostled. Even minor impacts can cause damage or denting.

  6. Check your pewter regularly for any signs of tarnish or corrosion. If you spot any issues, clean and polish it immediately.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your pewter remains in pristine condition and lasts for years to come. Proper storage not only protects your investment but also allows you to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of your pewter pieces whenever you use them.
After learning about the history and composition of pewter, as well as why cleaning and polishing it is important, we provided some useful tips and techniques for maintaining your pewter items. Remember to use mild soap and water, avoid harsh chemicals, and store your pewter properly. With these guidelines in mind, you can enjoy the beauty and longevity of your pewter pieces for years to come. Pewter’s unique composition and charming appearance make it a beloved material for many, and with proper care and maintenance, it can continue to be cherished for generations to come. So, keep your pewter looking its best by following these simple steps, and let it add a touch of elegance and history to your home or collection.

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