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How to Polish Gilt Metal

Grace Restivo

Ammonia is the traditional method for cleaning gilt: But it has a damaging effect. Repeated cleaning with the ammonia results in the destruction of the gold finish. To preserve the original look of the gilded piece; cleaning with ammonia, commercial polishing products, harsh abrasives and acids, should be avoided. To properly clean and polish gilt, the piece should be treated the same way as gold.

Methylated Spirits Method

Mirrors are a common item to be given a gold finish.
  1. Dust the gilt metal item with a soft brush.

  2. Moisten a swab with methylated spirits and gently rub the item. Methylated spirits, also called denatured alcohol, can be purchased in supermarkets and hardware stores.

  3. Use a swab moistened with saliva to rub the item, followed by a swab moistened with distilled water.

Egg White and Baking Soda Method

  1. Dust the gilt metal item with a soft brush.

  2. Beat together one ounce of baking soda and three egg whites.

  3. Wash the item with a sponge, using the baking soda and egg white mixture.

  4. Apply gold paint to touch up scrapes on the finish.

Oil of Turpentine Method

  1. Moisten a sponge with oil of turpentine. The sponge should be damp, not wet.

  2. Gently clean the item with the damp sponge.

  3. Allow the item to air dry. Air drying reduces the risk of damaging the gold finish.