Homemade pewter cleaner

Updated February 21, 2017

Pewter is a beautiful metal with many uses. Consisting mostly of tin with small amounts of copper, lead and other metals, pewter can be crafted to form all kinds of items, from small animal statues to intricately detailed silverware. According to Pewter Gifts, located in South Africa, pewter will not easily tarnish because of its high tin content. It will still get dirty, however, and using the right materials to clean it will keep your pewter shiny and new.

Cabbage Leaves

According to Pewter Gifts, cabbage leaves are among the oldest and most effective ways to clean pewter. The soft, moist leaves of a head of cabbage make the perfect scrubbers for the soft pewter. Try wiping your pewter down with just cabbage leaves, or use the cabbage leaves as your rag to apply other cleaning solutions.

Soap and Water

Never underestimate the power of simple soap and water. When cleaning pewter, use warm water, not hot, to prevent damaging the covering or integrity of the pewter. Similarly, use only a mild detergent, such as dish soap. Never use abrasive or high-chemical cleaners, as these can eat away at the pewter.

Wipe the soap and water mixture onto the pewter piece with a soft washrag (or a cabbage leaf if you're going the traditional route) and rinse it off with plain warm water to remove residual soap suds. Do not let the soap dry on the surface, as it can cause staining. Once the soap is removed, you can allow the piece to air dry or you can wipe it dry with a clean, soft towel.

Salt and Vinegar

For stubborn stains on your pewter, create a paste mixture with a stronger boost of cleaning power. Mix 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup flour with 1 to 2 tsp salt. Exact measurements of salt do not matter, but more salt will make the paste a little more abrasive, so be careful not to add too much or you may scratch the pewter. If you need the paste to be thicker, add a little more flour.

Rub the paste onto the pewter piece with a soft cloth or cabbage leaf and allow it to work for a few minutes. Rinse the paste off with warm water, and then clean the piece with regular soap and warm water to remove any residual paste.


Remember that pewter is its own metal and will not always have the bright shine that comes with traditional silver. Pewter will always be a bit duller than silver, so don't go to extremes to try to get a bright shine. Never use silver or brass polish on pewter, as the chemicals can eat away at the weaker tin used to make pewter. Similarly, never wash pewter in a dishwasher or use an abrasive cleaner such as steel wool on pewter, as it can easily scratch or destroy the pewter.

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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.