How to Clean Brass Indoors and Outdoors

Clean Brass Outdoors

We all want to know how to clean brass if we’ve never done it before. Whether you have antique door knockers, contemporary drawer pull knobs and handles, brass hinges, old brass locks, lamps, or brass decorations among other items, it is always wonderful to have them lustrously polished to a gleaming mirror-like shine.

Those of us with brass know that its burnished warm glow is beautiful for door knockers, bathroom sink fixtures, kitchen utensils, candle sticks, and many other items.

We can’t leave out the musicians playing their horns being saxophones, trombones, tubas, trumpets, French horns, flugelhorns, bugles, and more. Farmers still use brass bells to let those in the fields know that supper is ready.

Clean Brass Indoors

Resisting corrosion and being affordable, the alloy of zinc and copper is golden in color and when cleaned, is bright and beautiful. I have a vintage apple paper weight that I love making it indeed a polished apple.

Any metal can become tarnished and dull as time goes by. With a little information you can have your brass as shiny as the day it was new.

Use the time-honored and natural kitchen items we all have in our cupboards.

First Things First

Before you start polishing you need to know if your item is solid brass or plated brass. This means the brass is plated over zinc, steel, cast iron, and other metals. If a magnet does not stick to it, it is solid brass. If the magnet does stick, it’s brass plated.

If you polish brass-plated items, the plating can be removed, so wash those items with soapy detergent water, rinse, and towel dry.

Cleaning Solid Brass Naturally

  • Check to see if your brass is lacquered or not. If it’s lacquered, it is protected from tarnishing and would only need a dusting or a trip to the kitchen sink to be wiped down with sudsy water.
  • For unlacquered brass, mix equal parts of flour and salt together then add clear distilled vinegar until you have a thick past. Let it sit to do its work for about an hour and wipe. Go over all of the surfaces thoroughly with a clean cotton cloth. Use an old clean toothbrush to get into any nooks and crannies. Rinse with warm water and towel dry buffing it.
  • Another option is use a half fresh lemon removing the seeds and straining for the pure juice. Shake some salt onto the lemon from the salt shaker and rub over the brass recoating the lemon as you need more salt. Buff to a shine with a clean cotton cloth.

how to clean brass

Cleaning Brass with vinegar and aging brass with ammonia video.

Cleaning Brass with Commercial Brass Cleaners

BrassoI’m one who uses commercial cleaners that work fast for me, so I think. I like this product, Wright’s® Copper and Brass Cream Cleaner. Brasso® is a good product too. It’s easy and quick, gentle on brass, and I also use it for my copper pan bottoms. There’s no odor either. Be sure to use old cotton rags.

What Not to Use

Never use abrasive cleansers such as Ajax® scouring powders. This will put scratches in your brass. Do not used metal brushes or steel wool.

Preventing Tarnish

  • Apply a thin coat of mineral or linseed oil to a clean cotton cloth and rub all over.
  • Touching brass will leave fingerprints from the oils on your skin and that speeds up the tarnishing process. Yes, you might want to use gloves; I do.
  • You can keep your brass lovely and shiny by dusting frequently.

Quick Brass Polishing Trick!

Brass spittoonI have a large brass spittoon that I sit next to my woodstove for holding long matches to light the fire. I polish it about every 3-months for a glossy shine. If you don’t know what a spittoon is I’ll tell you.

In the late 1800s, the spittoon was common in the USA and Australia in pubs, beer joints, brothels, saloons, hotels, grocery stores, banks, and carriages, including homes for usually where adult men gathered for spitting into, especially by users of chewing and dipping tobacco. If you have a brass spittoon, hang on to it. They are valuable now.

Final Thoughts

Feel welcome to leave a comment about how to clean brass and your experiences or ask a question about cleaning brass and I will reply to you soon. Happy cleaning!

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  1. John Rogers
    • Jim

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