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Cleaning Large Items, Like a Byrnie
Article © MAIL User: Micromaniac

OK, here's one that I'm sure everyone has tried. First, let me start by saying that I'm kinda new. I've been mailling for just over a year now. I made myself a byrnie. 1/4" ID (maybe a little bigger after springback), 1/16" stainless steel 4 in 1. I made a nice big inlay from the same gauge and ID of aluminum bronze (nice gold color, has a beautiful antique brass patina with age). Oh, you're probably wondering what the inlay is. Well, most of you should know it. It's the dragon inlay that Emerald Dragon made.

Now, I wore this byrnie to my local ren fest. Well, I was sweating up a storm and the dust there is incredibly thick. Every time I adjusted my byrnie, I had to go wash my hands. Here's where we get to the cleaning bit.

First thing I thought to try was a nice stiff bristle brush. So, I went and bought a brand new one just for my maille. I laid the byrnie out in the bathtub, squirted a bit of Dawn (dish soap) on the brush, and started scrubbing away. I went with the grain and against it, scrubbing the inside of the shirt as well as the outside. Everything was the dingiest grey you've ever seen, even the soap suds. I just knew I had this all figured out now. I started rinsing the soap away. it was looking good. Then I realized that the patina didn't come of of the Aluminum Bronze. I had hoped that it would, just so I knew I had done a proper cleaning. I hung the shirt in the shower with a makeshift hanger and started wiping it down with some old light grey shirts. The dirt was still coming off. I couldn't believe that after an hour or so of scrubbing, that there was still so much mucky kind of dirt left.

Anyways, I went to the ren fest again wearing my dirty byrnie. When I got home, there was a sales ad from our local all in one store (groceries, clothing, sporting goods, etc.). Right on the front page was my answer. There it was, bright as day. They ran a sale on some of that orange oil degreaser stuff. Normally I wouldn't be very excited, but I realized at just that moment that all that mucky stuff on the shirt was body oil. Degreaser was exactly what I needed!!! I bought 3 bottles (maybe a half gallon each) of this stuff for the price of one. I went straight home and found a bucket in which my byrnie would fit. Now, if you've ever used this stuff before, you'll know that it really is oily. I didn't just pour this stuff on. I used the spray bottle it came in, and sprayed every inch of the shirt with the degreaser. Then I started all over until one whole bottle was gone. That's when I sealed the bucket. I let the whole thing soak for about three days. I probably could have taken it out sooner. Anyway, the degreaser was totally black. I took the bucket outside, hung the byrnie on my makeshift hanger and squirted it off with the hose. I couldn't believe my eyes. Every speck of dirt and dust was gone!!! Even the patina was gone from the aluminum bronze!!! It was bright and shiny everywhere I looked.

Well, that's just about it for the cleaning. But, you know, it's strange. The liquid wouldn't all fit back in the bottle. Could there have been that much goo between my rings? I wanted to reuse this stuff at least once more (I'm a penny pincher). Well, I figured I'd just leave the stuff in the bucket and dunk the byrnie next time. I had forgotten to put the lid on the bucket. I came back to it about a week later and all the liquid was gone (evaporation, I suppose). But there was something horrible looking in the bottom of the bucket. It was like this green, sludgy, slime stuff. Best I could figure is that it was the patina that came off of the aluminum bronze. Oh, there was also a lot of the black dusty stuff in there, but it seemed to have sank to the bottom and was covered in the goo. So, to sum it all up, I would have to say go get some of this stuff and try it. Any citric acid based degreaser should do the same thing.

Sorry this was so long and drawn out, but if you took the time to read it all you must have been in a similar situation. Trying to find a good cleaner, that is. Thanks in advance for any comments and/or suggestions.
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