Military medals are made out of metals such as copper, brass, steel, brass etc. that has been cast or moulded to form a certain shape. These medals are worn on formal occasions. The medals are attached to the uniform by a ribbon. There are certain rules when it comes to the colours of the medals and the order of wearing them.
Metal medals will have a patina which is a chemical film that gives it a specific colour. There are also plated metals that have a covering of another metal such as silver, platinum, gold etc. The base metal in such a case will be pewter. There are protective coatings in the form of waxes and varnishes that are applied to the medal. The ribbons for the medals are made out of different fabrics be they natural or synthetic. A patina is a film that forms on the medal because of oxidation. This is not something that you generally clean off a medal. There are certain factors that can affect the appearance of the medal such as high humidity, skin oils, sweat, salts, pollution, dust etc. Also, if you are not aware of the correct way of cleaning and maintaining the medals, you may do accidental damage by over polishing, using the wrong products and incorrect repair methods. The ribbons can also wear over time when exposed to light, insects and when mould starts growing on the ribbon as a result of high moisture levels.
You need to remember that polishing a medal aggressively can remove the patina that forms on it over time. The less you do is better when it comes to preserving medals. If the medals in your possession are badly damaged and you are wondering where to buy replica military medals, there are companies that specialise in this and use excellent materials to create these replicas. You can read some of their reviews to get an idea of their work. You need to store the medals correctly and know how to handle them. When you are handling them, you should be wearing cotton gloves so that the oils in your fingers will not come into contact with the medal. If you are not sure about which cleaning products are recommended to preserve the patina of the medal, you need to do some research. Most of the companies that provide mounting services and replica medals will offer cleaning and they will have the professional knowledge to do a good job.
You should never wash original medal ribbons. The dyes in the ribbons can bleed into each other. Ironing is also not recommended as the fibres can be affected by the heat and the pressure. The storage for the medals has to be clean and dry. It should not be subjected to extreme temperature changes, direct exposure to light and high levels of humidity. You can use acid free cardboard and hoop pine plywood when you are looking for boxes to store them. Corrosion prevention storage materials will help protect the medals.