Care Instructions

When your shiny new chess set arrives, it’s either waxed, polished or shined. Either way it looks incredible! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of unboxing a new set. However, like everything, it takes care to keep chess sets looking amazing and that’s precisely what we look at here.

By reading this article to the end, you’ll know how to keep your pride and joy clean, regardless of what materials it’s made of. Chess pieces and chess boards made from a wide variety of materials and they all need different considerations to avoid damage.

How to Clean Your Chess Pieces

Chess pieces come in a wide range of materials. Let’s look at each one and how to properly and safely clean them.

Wooden Chess Pieces

The vast majority of wooden chess pieces are coated thinly in shellac, a natural polish to protect the wood underneath from the oils produced by our skin. Cleaning them is pretty simple, involving wiping them down with a soft, damp cloth and then drying them off with another clean cloth.

Some wooden chess pieces, however, come with a thick lacquered coat (usually nitrocellulose or melamine) and so they’re quite robust. Cleaning can be achieved with a lint-free dust cloth or a little mild soapy water if they become soiled.

Metal Chess Pieces

Again, metal chess pieces need to be protected from the oils on our fingers and that’s also usually achieved using a clear, thin coat of lacquer. So, it’s the same procedure as before. Wipe with a lint-free cloth and use weak soapy water if they get sticky or soiled.

That said, they don’t always come with this lacquer, but the good news is that these metal chess pieces are usually manufactured from a metal that’s hard to tarnish. So, a wipe down with dry or damp cloth - depending on how dirty they are - is typically enough.

Plastic Chess Pieces

If you own plastic chess pieces, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re the least likely to need aftercare, so if they get dirty or tarnished, you won’t have to worry too much about damaging them during cleaning. A wipe down with a damp cloth or a clean with mild soapy water will suffice.

ow to Clean Your Chess Boards

Chess boards are also made from a wide variety of materials. We now look at the correct way to clean them and keep them looking immaculate.

Solid Wood Lacquered Chess Boards

Typically speaking, wooden chess boards have a gloss lacquer (nitrocellulose or melamine) that gives them something of a shiny finish. Whichever type of lacquer is used, dirt can grime can be easily cleaned away with a damp cloth that ‘s been dipped in mild soapy water.

If you find that you get scratches in the lacquer over time, you can polish them out before cleaning again to avoid damaging the wood underneath.

Polished Solid Wood Chess Boards

Wooden chess boards also come with a polished finish which is usually an animal-based wax like beeswax. This provides great protection, however, unlike lacquer, it’s not permanent. This means that you’ll need to reapply wax from time to time to maintain the protective layer.

Generally speaking, it’s recommended to reapply wax every 6-8 months and avoid turpentine-based waxes as they can be quite toxic. Other than that, a regular wipe down with a lint-free cloth is enough to keep them clean.

Your Source for the Finest Chess Sets Around

So, as you can see, there are many different varieties of chess boards and chess pieces out there that all call for specific ways of cleaning. Follow the tips we’ve shown you here and there’s no reason why your chess equipment can’t last you a lifetime. And all it takes is a little care.

 At The Chess'n'Boards, we offer the finest range of luxury chess sets you will find anywhere online. If you’re looking for a quality set for yourself or a loved one, we have an incredible range of beautiful products to enhance your playing enjoyment.