Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, September 2019, Consulting the Silver Expert

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeff Herman

How to Polish Chain Mail (Mesh)

Chain mail (also known as chainmail or chain maille) is one of those items that can perplex most collectors when it comes to polishing.

Some will reach for a chemical dip because it removes tarnish quickly, but will bring about unwanted results such as these two knife handles that were tarnished. The top was gently polished with Earth Friendly Silver Polish, the bottom was left in Tarn-X for exactly 20 seconds, then neutralized in water with dissolved baking soda. You can see that virtually all patina was removed from the bottom handle, leaving a dull, lifeless surface.

Others will use a paste polish that may end up drying within the mesh after buffing.

The following instructions are for polishing chain mail without fabric attachments. Chain mail with fabric attachments requires assistance from a conservator.

Place a cotton bar mop (a kitchen towel with a low pile), on a work surface near the sink. If the chain mail is very dirty, run it under warm water and dry it first. If it has dried polish, run it under warm water and tap out the polish with one of these brushes, dry it, then place the object on the towel.

If there is very light tarnish, try using a 100% plant-based glass cleaner like Better Life Natural Glass Cleaner (my personal favorite), or an aloe-free hand sanitizer. If the hand sanitizer leaves a residue, rinse it off with warm water or remove it with a moistened cotton towel, then dry immediately.

If water doesn’t work, use the glass cleaner then gently pat dry with a clean bar mop. Try this technique first, as it will remove absolutely no metal.

If this technique doesn’t remove the tarnish, use Blitz Silver Shine Polish on a cotton make-up pad or bar mop, constantly exposing clean areas with which to clean. Remove the polish with warm water (again, try the hand sprayer) then wipe the object with a bar mop until you see no polish left on the towel. The Blitz will leave a non-toxic, invisible, tarnish-protectant.

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either contact him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or via email: jeff @

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