How to Clean Your Pewter: Use These Methods to Restore That Age-Old Shine

Pewter is a metal alloy that first appeared during the Bronze Age, and is still seen in many items today. Keeping this metal clean requires specific steps.

Eva Hagan - Author

Mar. 4 2024, Published 12:36 p.m. ET

An overhead view of old metal dishware on a wooden table.
Source: iStock

You may find that some of your tableware or even jewelry is made of pewter, a metal alloy dating back to the Bronze Age. Its longevity and affordability are reasons it’s stayed popular over the centuries.

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However, like everything, over time, the metal will begin to show its age and require a touch-up here and there to keep it looking fresh. Here are some recommendations for how to clean your pewter and some methods to avoid.

A set of old metal utensils next to a plate and bowl full of persimmons with a white napkin in the background.
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How can you clean pewter?

According to Real Simple, cleaning pewter includes three simple steps: washing, rinsing, and polishing. Start by washing your pewter items in a sink or tub filled with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Using a cloth or sponge is recommended to make sure your pewter is fully submerged while cleaning. Then, rinse the pewter with warm water until there are no more suds and dry with a cloth.

For the best results, finish by polishing your pewter with a mix of one cup of distilled white vinegar and 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour. Dip a cloth into the paste and rub gently on the surface; let it sit for 30 minutes before eventually rinsing and drying with a cloth.

Although polishing is technically not required for keeping your pewter clean, restoring some shine could help keep it looking clean and new over time, per Real Simple.

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A woman using a green clothing to clean a shiny metal tray.
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Can you clean pewter with Windex?

Windex can be effective when trying to clean pewter. According to Aitkens Pewter, glass cleaners such as Windex contain ammonia, which has been shown to effectively remove oil and dust while leaving the pewter undamaged. To clean, spray the Windex on a clean cloth before gently rubbing on the pewter toward the grain.

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Can I use vinegar on pewter?

Vinegar can be used on pewter when polishing. Bob Vila says a mix of one cup of white vinegar and 1 ½ cups of flour can act as a homemade polish. Once the vinegar and flour form a paste, dip a cloth or cotton ball in the mix and rub it in the same direction as the pewter grain. After this, use a cotton cloth to remove the polish residue.

An overhead view of an old metal bowl on a concrete surface.
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What should you never clean pewter with?

It's important to note that you should never use baking soda to clean pewter. According to The Spruce, pewter is a soft metal, and baking soda's abrasiveness can result in scratches and marks on the surface.

Another one to avoid is Coca-Cola. Although using the soft drink to clean is often seen as a hack, the acidity can cause the pewter to break down, per House Digest.

Real Simple says silver polish is another commercial cleaner that can damage pewter. Similar to baking soda, silver polish's composition is too harsh and abrasive for a soft metal like pewter and will damage it instead of cleaning it.

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