Caring for Vintage
by Bob Brooke
secret to successful chrome restoration lies in removing rust and dirt
without scratching the shiny metal surface. The problem is, while chrome
is a very durable metal and can last for years, it doesn’t take long for
it to get dirty and dull looking. And because you will need to clean
chrome frequently, it is important to know how to clean chrome properly.
Never neglect chrome. The best way to avoid damage to chrome objects is
to not allow them to get dirty in the first place. The dirtier chrome
gets before you deal with it, the more effort and force you’re going to
have to use to clean chrome and the higher your risk of damaging it will
become. The moment you start to notice a dulling of the chrome, wash it.
you just need to clean chrome—a soft rag or piece of cheesecloth and
some good dish detergent will do the trick. If the chrome is really
dirty, you may want to add some vinegar to the rag as a chrome cleaner.
Because vinegar—either plain white or apple cider—is slightly acidic, it
works well for taking tarnish and gunk off of chrome. To make sure you
aren’t just moving the dirt around, use different parts of the rag as
you go, so you always have a clean section. For a little extra cleaning
power, sprinkle a little baking soda on the vinegar-dampened rag.
clean rust off of chrome, nothing beats good old aluminum foil. Crumble
up a bit of it, then dip it in vinegar and scrub. Scrub with medium
force and re-dip your foil into the vinegar often. Afterwards, rinse the
piece well in fresh water. For severe cases of rust, you may want to use
0000 steel wool. After cleaning and rinsing, make sure to dry the chrome
thoroughly with a soft, clean, dry towel.
To keep chrome looking nicer for longer, you should wax it after
cleaning. This will reduce the frequency of cleaning. Any carnauba car
wax will do. And make sure you give it at least two coats. The first
will fill in any pores, and the second will give it a good luster. Be
sure to buff the chrome with a soft cloth between coats.
Chrome pieces more than 50 years old can develop severe rust, pitting
and discoloration that you may find difficult to remove. To restore
badly damaged tables and chairs, consider having the chrome replated
using an electroplating technique. This process involves stripping,
polishing and plating the chrome to give it a smooth, shiny finish.
Electroplating involves dangerous chemicals and is strictly regulated,
so this is a job best left to the pros.
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