Most copper accessories come with a protective lacquer coat, which requires only light dusting and an occasional rinse in lukewarm, soapy water. However, prolonged exposure to moisture may cause it to develop a thin, green film (patina). In such cases, soak a cotton rag in a solution of boiling water, a tablespoon of salt and a cup of white vinegar. Apply this hot solution to the copper artefact. Wipe it clean, once cool. For stubborn stains, sprinkle baking soda or lemon juice on the cloth before wiping.
If this doesn’t work, use a good quality copper polish to revive tarnished accessories. Once finished, spray on a coat of lacquer to preserve colour.
Brass objects have a tendency to tarnish with age due to oxidation from exposure to air. To keep them looking as good as new, clean them with a simple soap solution, and buff with a soft rag until they shine.
If this doesn’t work, try polishing them with a lemon and baking soda solution. Another option is brass polish, available at any hardware store. Applying olive oil after each polishing will help retain the shine.
Although more corrosion-resistant than brass, bronze requires regular dusting with a soft, damp cloth in order to keep dirt from eating into the metal surface. Clean bronze with a paste of one teaspoon salt, a cup of white vinegar and flour. Leave it on for about an hour, rinse with warm water and polish till dry. Alternatively, restore weathered bronze by polishing it with liquid wax. Once dry, buff it lightly with a soft cloth for a glossy finish. Like copper, bronze is susceptible to patina or ‘bronze disease’ when exposed to moist air. Repeatedly washing corroded pieces in boiling hot, distilled water usually helps. Soaking the object for a week or so in distilled water may be required, depending on the level of corrosion. In case this treatment fails to do the trick, consult an art restoration expert on treating the object with a strong solution of sodium sesquicarbonate.
Easily tarnished, silver needs to be wrapped properly in cloth and stored in plastic. The best way to clean silver is to line a pan with aluminium foil and fill it with water; add a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Bring to a boil and immerse the object. Later, polish it dry with a soft cloth. Coat those hard-to-reach spots with toothpowder and brush well using a little warm water. Rinse, dry and buff with a soft cloth. If all else fails, try a good quality silver polish.
If your silverware isn’t tarnished, the ideal way to maintain it is by washing it in warm sudsy water. Be sure to rinse and dry immediately.
It may have high resistance to corrosion, but stainless steel still requires regular maintenance. Clean stainless steel with a mild detergent and ammonia diluted in warm water. Try removing streaks and heat stains with a soft sponge dipped in club soda. Dry with a soft cloth afterwards. Commercial cleaners for stainless steel are another option. Avoid contact with aggressive chemicals such as chlorine, commonly used to sanitize equipment, and hydrochloric acid, which is found in some cleaning agents.
Countertops and idols of marble are quite durable and rather easy to maintain. A light feather duster is ideal for daily cleaning. Once in a while, wash the object with a clean soft cloth dipped in a solution of three tablespoons of baking soda to a little more than a litre of warm water. Allow it to air-dry for a couple of hours, then wipe it with a wet cloth. Dry off with a soft cloth.
To give marble a quick shine, rub it with powdered chalk using a damp, white washcloth. Once dry, rinse it with fresh water and wipe dry.
The best way to care for crystal objects, such as candle stands, is to hand-wash them with a mild detergent. Using rubber gloves to handle them will prevent scratches. Avoid washing crystal artefacts in water with a high temperature. Always allow crystal to air-dry first; then polish it with a flannel cloth.