Lapel Pin Etiquette: A Guide for Cleaning Your Lapel Pins
Although lapel pins have a history that stretches back to the Civil War, they’ve made a huge comeback. Cute, quirky, and unique designs became a huge trend in the fashion scene around 2014 and have since become must-have accessories.
No matter if it’s a pin with professional significance, the perfect accessory for your carefully cultivated look, or just a way to add class to your outfit, you know lapel pins have many benefits.
What happens if you love your pins a little too much and they need some TLC? Read this guide to lapel pin etiquette and learn how to clean them so they’re looking like new again!
What Kinds of Pins are You Working With?
There’s more than one kind of lapel pin. Knowing what kind you’re dealing with will determine the best way to clean them.
Most people are familiar with the classic clutch back or safety pin badge. There are many other stylish kinds of lapel pins that have their own unique qualities.
Which ones do you have?
Also known as a butterfly clutch, these are usually small and efficient. The pin back has a point that fits into the clutch.
The clutch releases when you give it a squeeze. No complicated parts to mess with.
The stick pin is a truly classic design. The pin sits on top of a long needle that pierces your lapel.
Pop the metal keeper (or a piece of cork if you’ve lost the keeper) on the end and you’re good to go. This is a fantastic way to bring a bit of vintage style to your outfit.
Just as the name suggests, you screw a nut onto the point on the pin back. This is one of the most secure types of pins out there.
Floral and Boutonnieres
One of the oldest styles, floral and boutonniere pins have sat on many a gentleman’s suit lapel over the years. While both involve flowers, floral is typically made of fabric while boutonnieres feature the real thing pinned on the lapel.
Out of all of them, the boutonniere is the most low-maintenance. No need to polish and shine a real flower — just pop on a fresh one and go!
If you’re looking to make a statement, you need to add a long stem pin to your wardrobe. This modern twist on the classic stick pin is meant to be noticed.
Long stem pins come in a wide variety of designs. Oftentimes, they’re made out of high-end metals like gold and silver, so you’ll need to be extra careful when cleaning them.
Worried about piercing a favorite outfit? The magnetic clasp pin is for you.
These are perfect for keeping the integrity of a delicate cashmere sweater or fancy dress. The only problem is that eventually, the magnets wear out and your pin might fall off.
This is a unique pin. Most of the other pins that we’ve talked about go directly on a lapel or are worn like a brooch.
The collar pin clips to a typical button up collar. This is a sophisticated style for a man and a daring fashion addition for a woman.
What You Need to Clean Your Pins
There’s a basic cleaning kit that any lapel pin enthusiast needs. The two things you need are a polishing cloth and a polishing agent.
Before you run to the store, know that not all polishing cloths and agents are made equal.
When working with tarnish on silver pins, use a soft cotton cloth and silver polish. You might even be able to find special cloths that already have the silver polish in them.
Jeweler’s cloths work well for polishing pins. Jewelry polish is great to start with but if you want to splurge, go for the jewelry polish cream.
No matter what you use, look for something non-abrasive and gentle.
Cleaning Your Pins
Before you start, remove the back or keeper from your pin. Be careful not to stick yourself.
It’s always a good idea to test the polish you intend to use in an inconspicuous area. Swipe the back of the pin with a cotton bud before you use it on the rest of the pin.
The most basic way to clean the pin is to dab it with your polish and gently rub it with a cloth. Usually, your tarnish will easily come off.
Some metals tarnish faster than others. Copper tarnishes before silver which tarnishes before gold.
Make sure you use a good quality polishing cloth and cream on pins made out of these metals.
Extra Tips and Tricks
Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are a few other tips and tricks to keep in mind.
- Never use vinegar or anything citrus to clean your pins. It will damage the metal and any enamel.
- Don’t use polish on a soft enamel pin; rub it gently with a soft cloth so that the paint doesn’t come off
- Don’t use harsh abrasives on a hard enamel pin; you risk damaging the design
- No polish? You can try using toothpaste, but test it on the back of the pin to make sure it won’t hurt the pin
- Never put your pins in a polishing machine; it’ll be too hard on your delicate pins
- Household cleaners will also hurt pins; stick to jewelry polishes
The key is to be gentle with your pins. This is the best way to extend the life of your collection.
Practice Proper Lapel Pin Etiquette
It’s not hard to practice proper lapel pin etiquette. It’s important to remember that you should always test the back and be careful when polishing your pins.
If it’s been a while since your pins have had a good shine, take them out this weekend and polish them up. Nipping tarnish in the bud before it gets too dark prevents you from scrubbing too hard or using stronger polishes that can damage the metal.
If you love lapel pins, why not make a custom one for your special event or celebration? Reach out to us today for a free quote!