Medal Cleaning is very personal. Some believe that they should be left as is to show the passage of time, where others want to ensure they look their best every time they are on display.
There is no correct answer, only some do's and don'ts which you should be aware of before you decide what is right for your medals.
Firstly, if your medals are showing any sign of corrosion (or 'rust'), then a deep clean will be required to remove the corrosion and treat the area so it doesn't return.
All methods of cleaning will generally require the medals to be removed from the ribbons as we utilise 'wet' cleaning methods. This is best carried out when having your medals mounted or refurbished.
- Never use abrasive compounds like Brasso™️ to clean medals. Any cleaning compound that uses grit or similar to get the oxide layer moving will also be removing the fine details of the medal design, and although it may not be evident the first time you use it over time the details of the medal will be smoothed over which cannot be recovered.
- Mechanical buffing or polishing. While this method of cleaning may seem the easiest, and fastest it also cleans the medal by wearing away the oxide layer and much of the underlying metal. Due to the high operating speed of buffing wheels and tools like Dremel's™️ it is almost impossible to only remove small amounts of material.
- If your medals do not have corrosion and just need a clean after being worn and before going away, then a dry soft lint free cloth should be fine to remove any acid from finger prints and any other grease or dirt. You can store your medals in a cotton bag or non-coloured tissue paper and place them in a protective case (see our range). If you choose a timber medal box try and avoid timber with a high oil or resin content (like Huon Pine) as the oils and vapours from these can damage your medals.
- For a light clean that will remove oils and debris (like dirt and residue from polishing agents), we recommend ultrasonic cleaning. This is a wet method, so the medals need to be removed from the ribbons before carrying out the clean. This method of cleaning is the least invasive and will leave the medals patina in place, only removing oils and dirt. All medals remounted by Foxhole have an ultrasonic clean carried out as part of the mounting process at no charge.
- Heavy or deep cleans can be carried out using chemical methods like silver dip and polishing compounds that do not rely on abrasion to remove oxides and corrosion. We use a non-abrasive, biodegradable polish to remove surface oxide and corrosion. Deeper level corrosion is removed by a chemical gel that focuses only on the affected area. Once all oxide and corrosion has been treated an ultrasonic clean is carried out prior to remounting the medals.
If you are planning to tackle the cleaning yourself, just remember you'll also need to know how to re-mount the medals too! Foxhole are experts in both, so if you aren't sure you can complete the task simply enlist us to help. you can send your medals to us using our postal order form, Download it Here.