How to Clean and Care for Pewter

How to Clean and Care for Pewter

Cleaning Pewter

Pewter is a silvery-grey metal alloy consisting mostly of tin with traces of antimony and copper.  The constituents vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and virtually all modern pewter is lead-free.  (If you have an antique, you can have a specialist test it.) Cups, mugs, jewelry, pendants, ornaments, and replicas are made of pewter.

Helpful Hints:

  • If you use pewter cups and mugs, citrus drinks, colas, salad dressings, and other drink and food can cause pitting and stains.  Once this happens, it is difficult – and may be impossible - to remove these blemishes.
  • If you place a pewter item near a flame or hot oven or stove, it could melt.  Pewter tends to melt at 450 degrees, about the temperature that toasts bread.
  • Most manufacturers don't recommend automatic dishwashers for pewter, only hand washing.
  • Pewter should not tarnish (it has no silver).
There are basically three types of pewter finish:  Polished, Satin, and Oxidized.

For Polished Pewter:

  Polished pewter is shiny and smooth.  If it becomes covered in fingerprints, or faintly scratched from use, you can use the Blitz Microfiber Cloth, (Blitz Item # 7808), a non-abrasive and lint-free microfiber on a regular basis to clean it.  Always remember to wash or rinse first, since dust particles may cause worse scratches if not removed before wiping.  If the piece is extremely scratched, then you may have to take it to a jeweler or antique professional for cleaning. 

You may also try our Jewelry Care Cloth.  Do not use a cloth that has previously been used to clean silver, gold, or platinum – use a fresh cloth.  Start in a small area and test the surface first to make sure you will be pleased with the results.  Use gentle pressure and polish in circular motion.  The cloth will turn dark – this is normal.  As the cloth turns dark, use a fresh surface to clean.  Don't use this cloth with other jewelry.

For Satin Finish Pewter

   This surface looks somewhat frosted, or slightly rough.  It can also look grainy.  Wash with warm soap and water, or use our Foamz™ foaming cleaner.  Foam on, rinse off, then buff with a clean, soft cloth.  Our Microfiber cloth (mentioned above) is fine for this.  Don't use Blitz jewelry polishing cloths for this finish unless you consult with your retailer or antique dealer.  There are just too many manufacturers and varieties of satin pewter finishes to make a caveat judgment.   


For Oxidized-Surface Finish Pewter

This surface naturally looks dark, so all that's needed is to wash with mild soap and water on a regular basis.  Blitz Foamz™ mentioned above will also work well for this application. Certain ornamental pewter may have gold, encrusted jewels, and raised surfaces or even filigree.  In the case of an item like this, carefully read any manufacturers directions and follow them. Antiques, heirlooms, art pieces, and one of a kind items.  In the case of antiques don't clean them until you consult with an antique dealer, or conservator.  For artistic items, consult with the artist or artist's representative and distributor.  For one of kind items, mementoes, and heirlooms carefully consider cleaning and storage choices, and how those choices will affect future value.  Consult with an expert prior to cleaning or restoring.  For very old pieces, check for lead content before handling, cleaning, or using for food or drink.
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