How To Clean Ivory

To keep your ivory from yellowing, you should learn how to clean ivory properly. Ivory is an ivory white material that comes from the tusks of elephants, walrus and narwhals. Even hippopotamus teeth are sources of ivory. Carved ivory is made into jewelry and accessories like combs. Since ivory is rare and expensive, use caution when cleaning it. Store your ivory away from direct sunlight as the material can crack. Add a light sheen of oil to your ivory occasionally to hydrate it.

  • Paintbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Soft clean cloth
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • Cotton swab
  • Paper towels
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Wipe down the ivory piece with a soft paintbrush or toothbrush. Use long even strokes to remove dust and debris. Avoid submersing the accessories in liquid. This causes swelling or breakage.
  2. Wipe the ivory down with a soft clean cloth. To avoid breaking the item, hold it in your lap if possible to keep it safe.
  3. Remove excessive dirt that might be in cracks with a mix solution of ethyl alcohol and distilled water. The ratio should be half-and-half.
  4. Dip a cotton swab into the solution. Dab it on the dirty area then blot up the liquid with a paper towel. Test this method in a small location somewhere that is not obvious. Examine the section after you clean it, checking for discoloration. If it does, discontinue this method.
  5. Continue using cotton swabs to clean the entire piece, one small section at a time.
  6. Oil your ivory lightly with a little vegetable oil. Leave the oil on overnight then wipe it away. Rehydrate the ivory every six months with vegetable oil.
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