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How to Restore Gilt Buttons

Updated April 17, 2017

A gilt button has a thin layer of precious metal, such as gold or silver, applied to its surface. Many years ago, gilt buttons were used as decorative additions to uniforms and evening wear. To maintain an enhance the article of clothing, it is important to polish the gilt buttons, but you must take care as the gilt is delicate and you don't want to scrape it off. A metal polish or homemade polish will work well for gilt buttons.

Identify the type of gilding on the button. It should be silver, gold, brass or copper.

If it is silver, you may use a silver polish to remove the grit and grime. Apply a small amount of polish to a soft polishing cloth and rub gently on the button. Use a toothbrush to access crevices in the button. Rub with a clean cloth to remove the residue of the polish that has coated the button. All of the excess polish must be removed as leaving it on will cause the metal to deteriorate.

If the button is gold, brass or copper, create a homemade polish by mixing 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of vinegar to form a paste. Apply the paste to the button and then rub with a soft polishing cloth. Gold gilt is particularly fragile, so do not use a toothbrush. Be sure to remove the polish completely when finished.

Using a clean polishing cloth, complete a final polish in order to ensure all of the residue has been removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Polishing cloth
  • Metal polish
  • Tooth brush
  • Tablespoon
  • Salt
  • Flour
  • Vinegar
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About the Author

Kate Muir began her career in 2000 and has written corporate communications, largely in the field of arts and cultural policy. Her articles have been published in the "Toronto Star." Muir has a Bachelor of Arts, Honors, in political science and cultural policy.