Pamela asked: I want to begin to use bronzeware. I haven’t used it in years because I could taste the cleaner I used to clean the flatware. Now I want to try again. I do have a chest to keep the bronzeware in. Unfortunately, I have kept the serving pieces out of it, and now they are a mess. Help. I also have a lovely tray I used to put candles on. Wax drippings have damaged it and I wondered if it’s worth trying to repair it. I’m not sure if it is brass or bronze.
Bronze flatware offers a beautiful addition to any dining room décor, whether it’s for a family dinner or a formal celebration. Cleaning bronze flatware is quite simple to do, though it may take some time.
Cleaning Before/After Use
Bronze flatware only requires a quick cleaning after each use to remove any food debris and bacteria. It can also be cleaned before use if it is dusty or otherwise dirty. The most important parts of cleaning bronze flatware are ensuring it does not get scratched and ensuring it does not get stained by the cleaning.
You Will Need:
- Soft cloths
- Mild dish detergent
Steps to Clean Bronze Flatware:
- Bronze should never be put in the dishwasher, so it must be washed by hand.
- Do not soak the items as the exposure to excess moisture could cause them to stain. Instead, wash each piece one at a time.
- First, rinse off the item to remove as much debris as possible with water alone. This will prevent the food debris from scratching the metal.
- Wet a soft cloth with warm soapy water and wipe the item clean.
- Once clean, rinse the item thoroughly to remove any soap residue.
- Dry the item immediately with a soft cloth before moving on to the next piece.
Removing Tarnish from Flatware
Bronze flatware is often coated with a lacquer to preserve its beauty against the many acidic foods that could stain it. However, it can still become tarnished. Follow the steps below to remove the patina.
You Will Need:
- Soft cloths
- Baking soda or
- Lemon juice or
- White vinegar
Steps to Polish Bronze Flatware:
- Begin by rinsing each piece with water and immediately drying it with a cloth. This is done to remove any dirt or dusts particles that could leave a scratch while polishing.
- Mix a little lemon juice with baking soda to make a thick paste that is about the consistency of toothpaste or peanut butter. If you don’t have those ingredients, white vinegar and/or flour can be used instead. The paste may bubble and fizz for a minute if you are using baking soda.
- Apply the paste thoroughly over the flatware using a soft cloth. Ensure every area is covered and gently rub the paste over the surface. It can help to use a toothbrush or nail brush to get the paste between the tongs of the fork or into any decorative grooves on the handles.
- Let the flatware soak in the paste for 20-30 minutes.
- Rinse each item thoroughly, then dry it immediately with a soft cloth.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- If the tarnish cannot be removed, it means there is a lacquer coating on the metal. This must be removed so that the polish can reach the metal and remove the tarnish. Contact the manufacturer for guidelines about removing the lacquer coating.
- Some companies offer a service where they will remove the coating and polish the flatware for you. Contact the manufacturer to see if this applies your particular set.
- To remove stains left from candles, first remove the wax by hardening it with a piece of ice and then gently scraping it off with a plastic or wood scraper. Next, clean the tray with a mixture of water and dish detergent. After it has been cleaned and all of the wax removed, polish as usual following the steps above.
- For additional advice on cleaning bronze pieces, visit our page on How to Clean Bronze.
- If you are concerned with damaging your flatware or are unsure of what products to use, do not hesitate to contact a professional who is experienced with cleaning bronze pieces. Bronze flatware is a wonderful investment that is worth protecting.
- Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook by Martha Stewart
- Clean It Fast, Clean It Right by Jeff Bredenberg