Pewter may be pitted or stained by acids and other chemicals in some foods, so wash immediately after using. Be careful not to dent or scratch it.
Antique pewter is an alloy of lead and tin. The lead makes it darken to its characteristic shade. Because of the lead, these antique pieces should not be used for food or beverages. Modern pewter is mostly tarnish-resistant alloys of about 90% tin with antimony or copper. It is lead-free, will not darken, and is safe for use with food. It is a soft metal alloy, and is easily bent, or scratched.
Salt, Vinegar, and Flour. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup white vinegar. Add enough flour to make a paste. Apply paste to pewter and let sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse with clean warm water, and polish dry.
Modern pewter can be washed by hand in hot, sudsy water, rinsed, and dried thoroughly with a soft cloth. Do not over clean antique pewter. It is not meant to look like silver.
To clean and polish pewter with an antique or dull finish, rub in one direction with a paste of rotten-stone and boiled linseed oil. When clean, wash in hot soapy water, rinse, dry and buff. For a lustrous satin finish, rub in one direction with a paste of whiting and denatured alcohol. When clean, wash, rinse, dry and buff.
There are many pewter look-a-likes on the market that are aluminum-based alloys. Check the label and care for them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Tarnished Pewter: Remove tarnish with a commercial pewter polish or a paste made of rotten-stone and boiled linseed oil or olive oil. After cleaning, wash in hot, soapy water and rinse with hot water. Dry by rubbing in one direction until no black comes off on the cloth. Complete buffing is necessary for a shine that lasts. Fingerprints are
hazardous to old pewter pieces if touched before completely dry.