How to Clean Brass Items at Home Four Easy Ways

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From candlesticks and doorknobs to jewelry. Car Parts Lock

How to Clean Brass Items at Home Four Easy Ways

Whether you're obsessed with flea markets and estate sales or simply have brass hardware in your home, you know how easily the beautiful metal can tarnish. Oil from hands, dirt, dust, grease, and more can quickly transform shining candlesticks and doorknobs into dark, dull remnants of their former selves. Luckily, once you know how to clean brass it's easy to bring them back to life, and we have four tried-and-true methods that make the task easy.

These four brass-cleaning techniques don't require any fancy materials or special skills. In fact, you probably already have what you need in your pantry or medicine cabinet. (Who doesn't have ketchup and toothpaste?) Learn how to clean brass with our favorite polishers to restore shine.

To safely and effectively clean an item that's made of brass, whether it's a keychain or a door hinge, double check the material and give it an initial cleaning before trying to remove any tarnish.

It's important to ensure that your item is solid brass, not brass plated. If you try to clean a brass-plated item with one of these methods, you might rub off the plating and effectively ruin the piece. To determine whether it's solid brass, try sticking a magnet to it. Brass-plated items are highly magnetic, whereas solid brass pieces are not.

Before you remove the tarnish from your brass item, you need to dust it with a microfiber cloth. This safely removes any superficial dust, dirt, or debris so they don't mix with the cleaner you use and potentially scratch the surface. Next, get rid of any lingering dirt or grease by washing the item with mild dish soap and warm water. If it cannot be submerged, dip a cloth in the warm, soapy water and use it to wipe down the item.

It takes an abrasive cleaner to remove tough stains and caked-on grime.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and salt, and mix until the salt dissolves. Add flour to the bowl one spoonful at a time, stirring until the mixture thickens into a paste.

Scoop up the paste with a cloth and buff it into the brass item in small, circular motions until the item is fully covered. Let it sit and dry for 10 minutes.

Rinse the brass item in warm water and wipe dry it with a clean cloth.

You can use a lemon and baking soda to clean practically anything, including antique or new brass. This method is great for brass items you can't soak, such as doorknobs, light fixtures, and hardware.

Squeeze the lemon into a small bowl, and add the baking soda. Stir to combine.

Using a clean cloth, apply the mixture to the brass, and rub or buff to remove grime. Reapply the mixture and repeat the buffing until you're satisfied with the finish.

Dip a clean cloth in warm water and wipe away the mixture. Dry with a clean cloth.

While it's one of the messier cleaning methods, you can successfully clean brass with tomato paste or ketchup thanks to their high vinegar content.

Test the method by squeezing a small amount of ketchup onto the brass piece. Allow it to sit for 30 seconds, then wipe it off. Does the metal look shiny and clean in that area? If so, go right ahead. If not, your item might need a stronger cleaner; consider using a different method.

Repeat on the entire piece, buffing the ketchup into the brass with a cloth or your hands.

Wipe off the tomato mixture off the brass item with a clean, damp cloth. Thoroughly rinse or wipe it clean, and wipe it dry, switching to a clean cloth as needed.

Toothpaste cleans your teeth, but it can also polish dull brass. Pick as plain a toothpaste as you can; you don't need a fancy flavor or gel for brass.

Using your fingers or a small brush, apply a thin, even coating of toothpaste and allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes.

Grab a cloth and buff the toothpaste into your item using small, circular motions. For stubborn areas, apply more toothpaste and buff again.

Rinse the piece with water or wipe it with a damp cloth. Dry with a clean cloth.

Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever. 

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How to Clean Brass Items at Home Four Easy Ways

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