Through the years, the composition of pewter has evolved -- from tin alloyed with copper and antimony, a lustrous natural metalloid that gives pewter its soft gray coloring, and lead, which adds strength -- to a composition that excludes lead. Lead-free pewter is more delicate than its predecessor. Susceptible to nicks and scratches, newer pewter must be carefully maintained, but a bath in soap and water is all the alloy needs to refresh its patina and brighten its soft shine. Different pewter finishes dictate the correct cleaning regimen, but no pewter carries the shine of silver or silver-plate. Keep your pewter clean to showcase its beauty.

Polished Pewter

Step 1 Make a Paste

Mix the flour, vinegar and salt together until it becomes thick.

Step 2 A Pewter Facial

Slather the paste all over your polished pewter pieces. Let dry.

Step 3 Pewter Bath

Bathe the pewter in a bath of warm, soapy water, lightly wiping away all the paste.

Step 4 Drying Time

Dry the pewter with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth. The shiny, smooth surface of polished pewter is ready for another year of display.

Satin Finish

A satin-finished piece of pewter has a matte patina and looks rougher than polished pewter. The paste works to remove scratches if lightly applied with a piece of very fine steel wool. Move the steel wool in the direction of the scratch, and then wash the piece in warm, soapy water. Dry thoroughly.

Antique Pewter

Never use an abrasive on an antique piece of pewter. Instead, dust it regularly, and, if necessary, give the pewter a warm, soapy bath. Also called oxidized pewter, the darker finish is part of its personality.