Cleaning vintage Tins?

sooeyJanuary 28, 2004

Hi Gang,

I have a question about a new collectable I have suddenly developed an interest in, vintage tins. I have aquired a few and now I am wondering how to clean them? Some I would like to use, storage of trinkets, etc. but some I will use only for display. What is the best way to clean them? A few are grimey, in and out so I imagine I need some type of non abrasive agent/cleaner with a soft cloth to remove surface dirt. For the ones I will be using only for display can I give them a light buff with some J&J wax, or the like? These are NOT advertising tins, just decorative. Some need nothing at all, but some are in sad, but savagable shape.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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Wipe gently with a soft damp cloth.

If that doesn't work, try mild soap and water, followed by rinsing and thorough drying.

The decorations on these is often a decal of some sort, and they are easy to damage.

Wax them with a good paste wax to protect them from further corrosion.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2004 at 7:09AM
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No wax.....just a soft damp cloth. Some decorations will rub off with wax. And I always set in front of a fan or heating register to be sure there is no mote hiding in the seams....a hair dryer works too. Actually it depends on what the decorations are....and how old the tins are, if they will wash rub off. If you want them to look like new tins, why not buy new ones?
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 29, 2004 at 10:05AM
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Hi, LazyG and LindaC,

Thank you for responding to my question.

Yep, why not just buy new ones. Well, I guess I just like the sense of history I can imagin with an older tin. They take me back to my childhood when there was no tupperware, zip lock bags or Rubbermaid. I remember my Gram keeping her buttons in a tin that once held candy. I remember when the recyclining of cookie tins was the norm. Older tins hold memories. Some of the tins that I have, I am sure I could just dunk in a sink of warm soapy water and as long as I dry them well, they would be fine. Others, I'm sure, need a bit more care. As I get into this more I'm sure I will learn the difference between the two. But to be honest, I need to know that they are clean, but that may just be my own little quirk. I strive to fine a balance.

Do you collect tins and if so, where have you found them? I would also like to find some older tin signs, but those would be easier to accept with a bit of grime. On a sign, a bit of grime adds to it's's natural patina. Don't ya just love that word, patina? After you say it several times, it can take on just about any meaning you could come up with...Ouch, I think I just broke my patina. Or, Thanks again for this delicious patina. How much patina should I add to the mix? Put the eggs in the patina. Oh my, your patina is so much larger than mine. On and on and on...

Thanks again for responding but now I must run, I'm expecting a delivery of frest patina and I need to clear a path for the delivery man.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2004 at 12:08PM
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Hi Sooey,

I like old tins also, especially ones with floral designs. I have about a dozen or so, most of which came from thrift shops. I use them to store papers, office supplies, etc.

If I read you correctly, you are interested in cleaning your tins, not in making them look like new. Quite understandable!

The advice from lazygardens sounds good. I've never done more than a gentle washing with warm soapy water, myself, using a sponge or cloth. I then dry the tin as much as possible with a dishtowel, and put the tin in the gas oven with just the pilot light turned on, to dry completely. If it has a hinged lid, I leave it open. If the lid is separate, I separate the lid before putting both pieces in the oven. Again, the oven is OFF, but just provides a warm dry place to encourage complete drying and avoid any rusting.

Best of luck... hope you continue to find some nice tins!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2004 at 2:49AM
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Hi Barbara52,

Thanks for responding to my question re: cleaning my vintage tins. I took the big, bold step and put them in a sink of warm soapy water. I used a soft cloth and just cleaned away. They came out great. I got them as dry as I could with a soft towel then put them in the oven. I had pre-heated it to just below 'warm', turned it off, put the open tins in and then I left the door to the oven open. My husband thought I was crazy. They all came out fresh, clean and feeling like they were finally all mine. I've gotten a few on Ebay, but have found a few gems in antique stores. I go for the older, floral, hinged lids for some reason. They all tell a story. It's a nice hobby.

Thanks again for responding. Enjoy your tins.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2004 at 10:28PM
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