How To Care For Your Trophies and Awards

June 21, 2018

Whether you have a collection of trophies that you’ve won since childhood, or you’ve just received a lifetime achievement award to commemorate your entire career, you might be wondering how to keep your trophies and awards looking as shiny and new as the day you received them.

While it’s tempting to just hide them away in your attack once your awards and trophies start to age or get dusty, it’s actually pretty simple to care for them so you and your family can proudly display them for generations. Below, you’ll discover how to care for just about any type of trophy and award. We’ve even included advice for caring for types of trophies and awards your youngest children and grandchildren might have, including trophies manufactured out of materials we don’t use in our trophies and awards.

How To Clean Glass and Crystal Trophies and Awards

If your glass or crystal award has gathered a bit of dust, you won’t need any special polishes or even water to remove loose dirt, dander, pet hair and dust. Just wipe away dust and debris with a duster or soft microfiber cloth and it will be as good as new. How much dust is typically in the air where you live will determine how often it will be necessary to dust off your glass trophies and other awards.

If it’s been awhile since your crystal or glass trophy has been dusted or cleaned, or if you notice a spill or water spot on your trophy, then it’s going to take a bit more than a simple dusting. However, it’s not complicated. In fact, all it should take is your microfiber cloth and some regular window cleaner. Spray the cleaner on your cloth or towel and wipe away the dirt, spill or water spots as well as all the cleaner until your award is clean and streak free.

Never spray glass cleaner directly onto a glass or crystal award. Also if you make your own glass cleaner out of diluted white vinegar, be very careful. If the vinegar concentration is too high, the acid in the vinegar can actually harm your award.

How To Clean Bronze and Brass Trophies and Awards

If you’re just dusting your bronze or brass trophies, the process is exactly the same as it would be for dusting your other trophies, a duster or a soft micro-fiber cloth. In fact, if you display your awards in a case, or on the mantle, or on a bookshelf, then it’s likely that you’re dusting all your trophies at the same time. No matter what your trophies are made of, it’s going to be safe to wipe any dust off with a microfiber cloth.

Both bronze and brass can tarnish over time. Bronze tends to turn a coppery brown color when it tarnishes whereas brass gets a greenish hue to it over time as it tarnishes. There are cleaners on the market for cleaning bronze and brass which are both copper alloys. We don’t recommend using them because they can actually damage your bronze and brass trophies and other items. Believe it or not, but the best way to clean brass and bronze is with a mild, unscented dishwashing liquid like Ivory and water. If you live somewhere that has extra hard water, or you want to be extra careful, then instead of tap water, use distilled water or water from a reverse osmosis system.

Use a soft cloth in the soapy water to gently clean your awards, then rinse your cloth or take a separate cloth and clean off any soap residue with clear water. After your trophies and awards have dried, some people like to apply a protective coating of wax, however, choosing the right type of wax is tricky. We recommend you contact us if you’re worried about trying to apply anything like wax to prevent your bronze trophy from tarnishing. Also, never use car wax on your trophies because it will dry white. If you store your trophies in a case or they’re packed away, you can put a silica gel sachets in the back corner of the case or in the box to help absorb moisture.

How To Clean Silver Trophies and Awards

Again dusting your silver and silver plated trophies will be the same as for any other type of trophy or award. Silver tarnishes easily and quickly if you live in a moist climate. Regardless, one time a month polish your silver trophies and awards with a silver cloth in 1 direction only. Do not polish in circles or back and forth. Like bronze and brass trophies, if you display your silver and silver plated awards in a trophy case or pack them away for storage, silica sachets will help absorb moisture in the air and reduce tarnishing.

How To Clean Gold Trophies and Awards

It’s unlikely your trophy is solid gold. Pure gold doesn’t tarnish, but gold-plated trophies can. Follow the same procedure for cleaning bronze and brass and use mild soapy water and a soft cloth to gently clean your gold-plated trophies and awards, followed by a rinse with a clean, soft cloth dipped in clear water. Dry your trophy with a soft microfiber cloth and avoid scrubbing or using any harsh pastes and polishes which could damage your trophy. You can also polish your gold-plated trophies and awards with a polishing cloth.

How To Clean Zinc Trophies and Awards

Zinc trophies tend to be color-plated. As a result, you want to be careful about what you use to clean them because you can risk removing the plating. Do not use vinegar or lemon juice to clean your color-plated trophies. Some people say baking soda paste or toothpaste is ok. If you want to play it safe, then use mild soapy water and follow the same process you would use for bronze, brass, or gold-plated awards and trophies. Again, you can polish your zinc trophies with a polishing cloth and do not use any polishing pastes designed for other metals.

How To Clean Wood Trophies and Awards

If your trophy or award has wood elements such as a wood base or is a plaque or donor tree with wood elements, then you do not want to immerse the trophy or award in water and when cleaning non-wood elements, protect the wooden parts from getting wet. To clean or polish the wood, you can use mile wood furniture polish by spraying the polish onto a soft, microfiber cloth or rag. Protect any parts of the trophy that are metal or another material to keep any furniture polish from getting on them. Just as water can damage wood, furniture polish can damage or discolor some types of metals.

How To Clean Other Types of Trophies and Awards

Most other types of trophies can be cleaned with mild soap and water or just water and a soft cloth. If your child or grandchild has plastic trophies they want to clean while you polish your bronze, glass, or silver and gold-plated trophies, it’s perfectly safe for them to get their trophies wet.

How To Clean Detailed Trophy and Award Parts

If your trophy or award has a lot of detailed or intricate parts, or it has several nooks and crannies, then a soft-bristled toothbrush can be used to clean those hard to reach places. Be very careful not to scrub so you don’t accidentally scratch your trophies and awards.

How To Pack and Store Trophies and Awards

We’re getting towards the end of our post on how to care for your trophies and awards, but we can’t end before we share our advice for storing and packing your trophies. Of course, we think you should display your awards. However, there are times when you need to pack your awards to move, or when you don’t have enough space to display all your trophies. Never wrap your trophies in newspaper, but instead use tissue paper and seal each trophy in a plastic bag made of polyethylene. Don’t use rubber bands to secure anything as they can damage metals like silver. If you’re packing trophies and awards that can tarnish or be damaged by moisture, include silica sachets in the box you’re using to store your awards.


Now that you know how to care for just about any trophy and award, you’ll be able to keep your new trophy protected, dust free and shiny for years and years to come. Remember, most trophies can be cleaned with just a soft, micro-fiber cloth and some mild soapy water. In most cases, it’s best not to use commercial polishes and no matter what type of trophy or award you’re cleaning, never scrub. Enjoy your new award. If you have more questions, contact us or leave them in the comments section below.

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