Antique glasses with gold wire frames, silver wire frames, or other metal frames are a unique accessory. Like any pair of eyeglasses, they require some general maintenance to keep them looking their best. Correct handling and regular cleaning to remove dust and oils is a necessary step of eyewear maintenance, including vintage spectacles.
Before you rush into cleaning and polishing, it is important to remember that your antique eyeglasses are likely already decades or even more than 100 years old. They were made to be durable, but these older materials have some special care requirements to prevent degrading the metal wires. By following these steps, you can keep your antique glasses looking their best for several lifetimes.
Cleaning Vintage Glasses with Wire Frames
The most effective way to avoid dirt on your glasses is to practice care. Storing your glasses in their case when not in use and avoiding handling them when you have dirt on your hands reduces the amount of debris your glasses will come into contact with. But regular wear is going to expose your glasses to different dust in your environment, as well as the oils on your skin and in your hair. This grime can cause wire frame glasses to look dull.
Cleaning needs to be gentle. Some Civil War era wire frame glasses and 1900s glasses are gold plated, and rough cleaning can wear away the plating. Antique glasses made of gold or silver can also be susceptible to scratching.
To safely clean your glasses without damaging the frames, use these steps:
- Mix Water and Dish Soap – Add a few drops of dish soap to a bowl of warm water. The dish soap is gentle enough for gold, silver, steel and other metals, but will cut through the grease that builds up on glasses frames.
- Soak Your Glasses – Soak your glasses for several a couple of hours or overnight in the water and soap mixture to break down oils.
- Rinse the Glasses – After removing them from the bowl of water and soap, rinse your glasses with more warm water to get rid of any remaining soapy residue.
- Wipe Your Glasses – Use a soft, clean towel to wipe off any lingering oils or dust. You will want to move in the direction from the outside of the temples towards the bridge since most of the oil is on the temples. A microfiber towel works especially well for this as it will not scratch the frame.
How frequently you should clean your glasses depends on how often you wear them. If antique glasses are your daily prescription glasses, a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning will keep them in good shape. For those who wear their wire frame glasses only for occasional Civil War reenactments or costumes, cleaning them after use and before storage is best.
You can polish your glasses from time to time with jewelry polish, but it should be done infrequently. Too much polish can wear away at the sensitive metals and lead to noticeable damage.
Vintage glasses from the 1800s and early 1900s are a fascinating addition to any wardrobe or costume, and regular cleaning will help you enjoy them for decades more. If you are still looking for your perfect pair of antique wire frame glasses, be sure to check out our selection of wire rim glasses at Eyeglasses Warehouse.