How To Clean a Sword Using Household Items
You: Red-Headed Scottish Highlander, long beard and hair whipping in the windy hills, mounted on his rugged horses, traveling for days on end to escape the Redcoats, ready for swashbuckling action at every turn. Wiping the blood of your opponent directly onto your clan’s plaid, you sheath your sword and turn towards yet another makeshift camp, where you will rest your weary bones, amidst a festive atmosphere of bawdy jokes and roasted, hunted game.
Over time, your sword gets dirty, but luckily, you have your own cleaning regimens to make sure your blade is always sharp and at the ready.
Perhaps I am letting my imagination run away from me. But, chances are, if you actually own a sword in this modern age, you align with the ancient values of this honorable weapon.
And perhaps your imagination is stirred, as is mine, by a time where using a weapon was based on skill and strength, not the brute assault of automatic weapons based more on technology than personal abilities or training. Lives were not likely taken with a sword without the meeting of eyes, and the collision of skill and strength gained over time as an expression of personal diligence and devolution.
To the ancients, the sword was valued and cared for as a person’s own body. So bring your ancient values to meet modern materials, as we guide you through the process of cleaning your sword with common materials you can find around the house.
And join the time tested devotion of countless swordsman, whose ethos meant they cared for their swords, as they looked after their own lives. As if their very lives depended on it.
There are several different methods for how to clean your sword using only household items. Choose the one that works for you, based on the condition of your sword.
Method #1: Oil
Sure, you can buy specialty cleaning oils for swords, but it’s not really necessary. Any kind of machine oil (3 in 1, Rem Oil or Sewing Machine Oil, for example), will work just fine.
How is it done?
1. Give your blade a good wipe with a soft paper towel. Make sure you get a lint-free variety.
Have as your goal the removal of all oil and dust that might have accumulated on it since the last time that you cleaned your sword. Make sure that your sword is completely clean, and dry before oiling.
Then you just pour a bit of oil onto a cleaning cloth (this should be clean, white, and also lint-free.) The idea is to use enough oil for the sword to every so slightly shine when held up to the light.
Do not overdo it. Too much oil traps moisture, which can lead to dust and rust.
Wipe away excess oil with the dry spots on your cleaning cloth. Repeat at least once a month, unless you live in a humid climate, in which case you will have to clean it more often (it’s very rainy in Scotland, for example).
You should give your sword a wipe down every time you use it as well.
Method #2: Lacquer thinner
The first method, a simple oiling, is for clean swords. If your sword is old, dirty, or coated with stubborn gunk, you can try cleaning it with lacquer thinner.
This gunk could also apply to the factory grease that coats a newly purchased sword. In this case, put a very small amount of lacquer thinner onto a fresh, clean, lint-free white cloth, and rub until all the gunk is removed.
Use straight movements, also going in one direction, to prevent cuts. Another fresh cloth can be used to get rid of any leftover lacquer thinner.
Method #3: Abrasive Pads
Removing Rust and Scratches
You can remove rust and scratches with metal abrasive pads. Little scratches can be removed with fine pads, while coarser pads can be used for more extensive damage. Take your time in this process.
- Face the tip of the blade AWAY from you, placing it on a flat surface.
- Rub in one direction, with straight motions, over the area you want to clean.
- Do one small area at a time.
- Go over that area again once it is clean, using a fine pad, to get a lovely shine.
- Get rid of rusty dust completely with a soft, clean, white, cloth. Oil as usual.
- Call a professional if an expensive sword becomes rusty. It’s not worth damaging a precious item if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing.
Frequency of Cleaning
How often you clean your sword is based on several factors. One, as mentioned above, is the humidity of the climate in which you live.
In areas with a lot of rain or a high level of humidity, take extra care and frequency of cleaning, as the humidity creates an environment that encourages rust, which you definitely don’t want. So, in these climates, clean weekly, and check the metal every couple of days to make sure it does not begin to rust.
New swords should be oiled about every ten days.
If your sword has a wooden handle, you can coat the handle with a thin layer of lemon oil every 6 months, using a soft, cotton cloth. If you notice any micro cracks in the wooden handle, increase the frequency of the oiling.
If you do not plan to display your sword, you can store it safely by coating it in vaseline and wrapping it in rags or other basic cloth to store. Secure the rags by tying.
This will preserve and protect your sword better than leaving it in its scabbard.
Cleaning swords is not rocket science. Since people have been doing this since before recorded history, it has always been possible to clean swords using regular, common substances, and a clean cloth.
The main concern with swords is rust, so keep them dry and lightly oiled. You can invest in special sword oils and clothes, but it is not necessary. Keep it simple and honorable; like a Scottish Highlander would: even if you are an Outlander.
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