If you are interested in war medals, such as WW2 German medals, and have begun collecting them, then you may want to clean your medals before you display them. And like any other valuable item, you should not simply start scrubbing away at them or you may cause some damage. You should instead clean gently, so keep reading to learn about some tips that will help you.
Determine The Metal
Like coins, medals are made out of a wide variety of different metals. And the cleaning process will depend on the metal that you are cleaning. Specifically, you want to determine if the medal is made of copper, bronze, or silver. Silver is the softest of the three metals and can be damaged easily. This means that any sort of abrasive agent can scratch your medal and cause irreparable damage.
Copper and bronze are a bit harder than silver, but they are only a bit higher on the Mohs hardness scale. So, abrasives are not safe for these metals either. However, if you notice a great deal of debris, you may be able to use a mild abrasive agent like baking soda to do your cleaning. Just make sure that you are using it only for your copper and bronze medals and not your silver ones.
Baking soda can be used as a cleaner by creating a poultice out of the powder and a small bit of water. Use very light pressure when adding the cleaner to your medals and rinse completely when you are done.
Clean With Cloths
Before you clean your medals, you should remove the ribbon first. The ribbon can be spot cleaned or cleaned in a solution of warm water and dish detergent. Just make sure to spot test the fabric to see if the dye runs when exposed to a fluid.
When you have the medal on its own, start by using a clean cloth to do your cleaning. You want to start with a dry and clean cloth and then move to a damp one as needed. Rub the medal gently. Use cotton swabs to get into crevices.
When the medal is clean, you can apply a small amount of polish to the metal. Consider the metal of the medal when choosing the best polish.
Storing is wise when your cleaning and polishing is completed. You can and should wrap your medals in soft cotton cloths and place them in a dry, cool storage area.
If you want to know more about medals and how they should be cared for, speak with a medal retailer. For other resources and information, visit sites such as wehrmacht-militaria.com.