The Best Way to Clean Medals

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you have earned a medal or it has been passed down to you from previous generations, you will want to know how to clean it. Due to the natural reaction of various metals and oxygen, your medals will appear to lose their shine and colour. When cleaning metal medals, it is important to use the proper cleaning technique to preserve the quality of the medal and keep it in shining form.

Put your gloves on.

Remove the medal from the ribbon by removing the stitching with small tweezers.

Pour a small amount of acetone in a bowl. Dip the medal into the acetone and wipe clean with a cotton ball. Remove any dirt by using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Ensure that the toothbrush does not scratch the surface by working slowly and only removing impurities that you can see with your eye.

Use a brass polish for brass or copper medals and a silver foam for silver or plate medals. Polish the medals to remove any dirt by using a small amount of polish and a clean rag. Remove polish from the medal by using a small amount of water and a clean rag.

Pour a small amount of methylated spirits into a bowl. Dip your medal into the bowl, remove it and use a cotton ball to dab off any remaining spirits.

Use metal lacquer which you can purchase at your local hardware store. Use a piece of wire to suspend the medal so that your gloves do not come into contact with the metal surface. Use the wire to lower the medal into the lacquer. Slowly remove the medal from the lacquer and hang where it cannot come into contact with anything.

Allow the medal to rest for at least 24 hours and ensure the lacquer has dried fully before touching. Reapply the lacquer if there are rainbow stripes on the surface by removing the coating with acetone and dipping the medal again. Do not reclean the medal to reapply lacquer.

Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers
  • Acetone
  • Bowl
  • Cotton balls
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Silver foam
  • Brass polish
  • Clean rag
  • Gloves
  • Methylated spirits
  • Metal lacquer
  • Wire
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About the Author

Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.