While most metal dog tags are made out of some tarnish and rust resistant kind of metal, with the many options available for customization these days, you can be sure that many of these are made with more than just one element. You can find these tags customized with gems, and made with the use of precious and semi-precious metals. This means that when you clean these, you need to do so with some consideration for these other additions to your tags and the kinds of metals used to create these.
To help you out, here are some of the more commonly used metals for these tags, how to clean them, and what to do when these have embellishments like gems and the like on them:
For gold or gold plated metal dog tags: to clean gold or gold plated dog tags, you can use a standard gold or jewelry cleaner (the kind that is in liquid form and where you can dip the items in), then buff off your dog tags with the use of a micro fiber cloth or an old yet clean cotton t-shirt. You can also use a standard mild dishwashing liquid diluted in an equal amount of water and a soft rag to clean your tags with. Dip the clean rag into the soapy solution, wipe off any dirt from your tags using this damp cloth, and wipe off with a dry piece of soft cloth afterwards. Make sure that you use a soft rag for polishing or buffing to prevent scratches from being made on the plate’s surface.
For silver or silver plated metal dog tags: you can do the same thing you do with gold or gold plated metal dog tags for this kind of a material. You can also use a silver cleaner, if you have this.
For stainless steel and aluminum tags: these metals are tarnish and rust proof, so the only dirt you have to remove on these includes grease, grime, and dust. If your tags are very dirty and have areas that require some elbow grease in cleaning, you might want to use some baking soda and water for these. Standard cleaning procedures for these tags include the creation of a cleaning and degreasing agent with the use of warm water and dishwashing liquid. Dip your tags in this mixture, then wipe off with a clean piece of soft cloth. If there is deep seated dirt in cracks and crevices, get a cuticle stick and gently gouge out the dirt, then dip the tag into the water again. You can use a metal polish afterwards to restore the shine of these tags.
For bronze and brass tags: you can use the same methods used for stainless steel and aluminum tags.
For cleaning tags with gems: one of the problems that you may encounter when you clean dog tags with gems is the possibility of these gems falling out, if you are not careful in cleaning them. Use the same cleaning method used for gold or silver tags when you have these gem embellished pieces, but when you wipe the metal off, be careful when you do so around the gems. These may catch on the soft cloth and become dislodged from their setting. Just dab the gems dry and wipe the metal around it carefully to prevent this from happening.