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I have this metal box, I believe stainless steel.
As seen in the following photos, this box has many grooves and details. These small grooves are filled with grime, dirt, gum, candle wax, smoke, some sort of stains, and who knows what else.

How can I properly clean this metal box?

I have tried brushing it with water and soap, and also with baking soda and vinegar. Most of the grime has been removed.

front bottom back

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Water that is good and hot can be your friend for cleaning off some waxy type residue. I would retry cleaning using a good toothbrush that has stiff bristles using very hot soapy water.

You can then try some other cleaners with the hot water and tooth brush. One awesome cleaner that comes to mind is TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) which is really good for removing grease and grime. Before going all in with cleaning using any chemicals though you want to try out in a small area to make sure that the cleaner chemical does not attack the surface of the metal.

If there are any particular grooves that just do not want to brush out you can use the pointed end of a round tooth pick to pick and scrape the groove clean.

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CLR would probably work. If it is stainless steel, do not use Tarn-X.

I'd advise for you to not remove patina in the future, go watch Antiques Road Show: "Uh, this could go for 100k. But you cleaned it so now it's more like $200". Antiques should show their age proudly.

  • Unfortunately this is not an antique. Just a box which was kept poorly in horrible conditions. The stains were gum, candle wax, smoke, and who knows what else. – slybloty Oct 26 '14 at 21:06

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