How To Clean Enamel Pins

A new backpack or jean jacket screams for one thing only: enamel pins. Enamel pins are an effortless, fun way to add personality to your favorite clothes and belongings. They have maintained their popularity as a durable, eye-catching, highly-customizable accessory that can add personalized style to any look. But as with any well-loved wearable, these accessories may need a good cleaning now and then to maintain their original luster. Thankfully, bringing life back to your favorite pins is remarkably simple with a few tried and true cleaning techniques. Just follow this simple step-by-step guide!

Collect Necessary Supplies

Because enamel pins are often constructed with various finishes, colors, and types of backing, the specific supplies you need may differ from pin to pin. That said, you can clean most enamel pins with the following simple supplies.

  • A small bowl
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • An old toothbrush
  • A polishing cloth
  • Soft cleaning cloth
  • Q-tips

If you don’t have every single item on this list, don’t worry! If you have dish soap and something to scrub your pins with gently, you can successfully clean your prized accessories.

Inspect for Damage

Before diving into cleaning, thoroughly examine your pins for any damages. While enamel is durable, pins see a lot of action due to how frequently they are worn. Think of all the pins on your kid’s backpack that knock against the floor when you get home from school. Or the way you sometimes forget to remove the pins from your jacket before throwing it in the washing machine. As enamel pins take a beating, they may develop chips or cracks that can cause more damage or even break the pin. If you notice any severe damage, consider repairing or replacing the pin.

Give a Light Dusting

If your favorite accessory is in good shape, gently dust it off to begin. This may be particularly necessary if your pins have been sitting on a surface of your home, such as a dresser or bathroom counter. You may be surprised at how this alone makes a difference in the appearance of your pin. If your enamel pin was crafted with bright pigments, dust can easily mute the bold colors, causing it to look dull and lackluster. After dusting, assess if your accessory needs to be more thoroughly cleaned. If so, proceed to the next step.

Mix Cleaning Solution

Crafting enamel pins is an art that takes skill and resources. Thankfully, keeping them clean is much more straightforward. The most complicated step of maintaining your beloved pins is creating an effective cleaning solution; thankfully, it’s a straightforward process! Most pins will clean up just fine with water and dish soap. Add warm water into your bowl with a few drops of dish soap. Mix to combine. Then submerge the pins into the sudsy water and let them soak for a few minutes.

While cleaning your pin with a store-bought all-purpose cleaner or a vinegar solution may be tempting, use immense caution. Highly acidic or harsh chemical cleaners can damage a delicate enamel accessory. Sticking to simple cleansers, like dish soap, is a safe choice.


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Clean with a Soft Cloth or Brush

This is where the cleaning cloth or toothbrush comes in. Wet the cloth or toothbrush head with the cleaning solution after allowing your pin to soak for at least a few minutes. Then, gently scrub all surfaces of the pin. Remember the back side, as the backing can accrue debris over time that can hinder the effectiveness of its hold. If possible, use a soft cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging the accessory. If using a more rigid brush, be mindful of how much pressure you apply.

Rinse Off and Dry

When you’re satisfied with your pin’s shine and grime removal, it’s time to rinse and dry it off. Run the pin under warm water to remove any soap residue. Then, allow the pin to air dry by placing it on a dry tray or towel in a room with low humidity. While drying, leave the backing detached from the pin. Make sure you put them somewhere easy to see and away from other clutter, as it can be easy to misplace the tiny pieces.

Once dry, you can gently rub the pin with a polishing cloth. Voila! Your beloved accessory should look as bright and shiny as the day you bought it. It is that simple!

Store Properly to Prevent Damage

Whether your pins are constructed with hard or soft enamel, you must store them correctly to prevent damage. Plus, a proper storage method may mean you don’t have to clean your accessories as often, which can save you time and money in the long run.

You may love your pins for their bright colors, but those colors can actually fade over time if they are overly exposed to light and high temperatures. Because of this, it’s best to store your pins at room temperature or below. Ideally, these accessories will be kept covered to avoid excessive light exposure, such as in a jewelry box.

Pins can also scratch if they are tossed into a box with a bunch of other jewelry. Store these accessories in individual containers, away from other items, to protect the delicate enamel. Limiting their exposure to humidity is also essential, as this can increase the likelihood of rust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on for answers to folks’ most common questions about enamel pin maintenance.

What Can I Use To Clean Enamel Pins?

Enamel pins can be cleaned with dish soap and warm water. You should avoid harsh chemicals, such as store-bought all-purpose cleaners, and acidic solutions, such as vinegar- or citrus-based cleaners.

How Do You Clean and Polish Enamel Pins?

Mix your solution of dish soap and warm water in a small bowl. Next, let your pin soak in the cleaning solution. After a few minutes, use a soft-bristled toothbrush or cleaning cloth to scrub all surfaces of the accessory gently. When the pin is clean, rinse it with warm water and place it in a safe area to air dry. Once dry, you can use a polishing cloth to buff the accessory for optimal shine.

How Do You Restore Enamel Pins?

Enamel pins are typically made of durable materials like stainless steel. This means they can typically return to life with some gentle cleaning. If the metal has rusted, a cleaning solution should do the trick. If the pin has more severe damage, such as cracks or chips, it may require professional help.

Can You Get Enamel Pins Wet?

A small amount of water won’t cause irreversible harm to your accessories, but an enamel pin should not be exposed to water or high humidity for long durations, as it can cause rust. You can and should get your pin wet while cleaning and rinsing it. When not cleaning, however, try to keep your pins as dry as possible.

Final Thoughts

With a little effort and knowledge, cleaning and maintaining your favorite enamel pins is a walk in the park. If you want to bulk order custom enamel pins for an organization or event, check out The/Studio. Our pins are easy to design, competitively priced, and durably crafted.



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