Bronze pieces start out bright and shiny, but over time, your bronze medals, plaques, statues and household items can develop a dull patina on their surface. Bronze is a metal alloy mainly consisting of copper and tin, which oxidizes when exposed to moisture and air, forming a characteristic dark greenish patina. You can restore the shine to your bronze items fairly easily, using some household and cleaning supplies you probably have right at your fingertips.
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Due to its high copper content, the shiny finish on your bronze pieces can quickly lose its luster. If your bronze pieces reside inside your home, dust them frequently using a dry, soft cloth to prevent the build-up of dirt and debris. For ornate pieces with creases and crevices, vacuum the dust away using a soft brush attachment. For small bronze items, such as coins with a raised surface, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove the dust from any hard-to-reach spaces. You can also use a toothbrush, or a larger brush, with distilled water to remove any dust and loose dirt from your outdoor bronze pieces.
Keeping your bronze pieces clean can also help keep them shiny, and you can clean bronze easily using water and a mild soap. Refrain from using hard water on any of your bronze items, as it can do more harm than good by leaving calcium or lime deposits on the surface. Fine's Gallery advises using a mild 3-percent soap solution with distilled or deionized water, wiping away any grime with a soft cloth. Gently dry your bronze piece to a shine with a chamois cloth after washing it.
Polish your bronze pieces regularly to maintain their shiny finish, but avoid using abrasives, such as sandpaper or steel wool, because bronze is a soft metal alloy that is easily scratched. You can make your own polishing paste using a few items from your kitchen cupboard. Tipnut.com advises mixing flour and table salt in a 1:1 ratio with enough white vinegar to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to the surface of the bronze with a soft cloth, rub it in very gently, and let it stand for about one hour. Rinse the paste off with warm water and buff the piece dry with a chamois cloth until it gleams.
Waxing your bronze items is another way to help them maintain their initial shiny appearance, especially any type of bronze piece that is kept outside and exposed to the weather. Wax is easy to apply and can be used after any cleaning and polishing. Fine's Gallery recommends using an inert microcrystalline type of commercial wax for best results. Simply apply the wax liberally to the bronze piece, allow it to dry and then buff it gently to a shine with a chamois cloth. Wax your bronze pieces several times a year to keep their finish looking lustrous.