Polish Brass Furniture and Fixtures: Brass is a material commonly used in furniture and household fixtures, but it can get dull and tarnished over the years. Here are some quick and easy ways to clean solid and brass-plated items to make them look shiny and new again!
Use a magnet to see if your item is solid or plated brass. It’s important to know whether your brass object is solid brass or plated brass because the cleaning methods are different. Use a refrigerator magnet to find out. If the magnet sticks, it’s plated brass, and if it doesn’t, you have a solid piece.
Employ gentle methods to clean brass-plated items. If the item is plated brass, you’ll need to be careful not to scratch the surface and remove the plating, so don’t use harsh cleaning methods. Just wipe clean with a cloth dipped in warm, soapy water, and dry thoroughly.
Clean lightly soiled brass with water and dish soap. Wipe solid brass with a damp microfiber cloth. If that doesn’t get it clean, dip the cloth in some soapy water, or completely submerge smaller pieces in a sink of water and natural dish soap. Use a soft toothbrush to clean inside cracks and crevices. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Remove tougher stains and tarnish with ketchup. The acid in tomatoes does an amazing job at cleaning brass. To clean with ketchup, apply it with a cloth, wipe dirt away, and rinse thoroughly. You can also use tomato juice if you don’t have ketchup on hand.
Make brass clean and shiny with lemon juice. Acidic lemon juice also does a great job on brass. For light tarnish, cut a lemon in half, sprinkle some cooking salt on the cut side, and use that to scrub the tarnish away. Wipe away the salt and lemon juice with a damp cloth, and buff with a dry cloth to make it shine.
Whip up a cleaning paste with salt, vinegar, and flour. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Add enough flour to form a thick paste, and apply the paste to the brass. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, rinse with warm water, and buff dry.
Use lemon and cream of tartar on heavy tarnish. For tougher jobs, make a paste with 2 parts cream of tartar and 1 part lemon juice. Apply the paste, and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse with warm water, dry thoroughly, and buff with a clean, dry cloth. Cream of tartar is not only mildly abrasive—it also acts as a natural bleach to quickly lift stains away.
Make your own brass polish with water, vinegar, and salt. Mix 2 cups of hot water with 1 tablespoon each of white vinegar and salt, and stir gently until the salt dissolves. Dip a cloth in the solution, and use it to polish brass after cleaning. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
Keep brass clean with linseed oil. Now that you’ve cleaned your solid or brassplated items, protect them with a coat of linseed oil. While linseed oil is the best option, you can also use other natural cooking oils if that’s all you have on hand.
Be careful cleaning antiques yourself. You may want to take your tarnished brass antique to an appraiser and have them professionally cleaned instead of doing it yourself. Some antiques are actually worth more tarnished, or the object may lose value if you damage it trying to clean it yourself.
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