My mother always had decorative brass figurines in the house when I was growing up.
I never really appreciated them much, mainly because I remember them always looking old and tarnished – they had definitely seen better days.
Brass is a beautiful metal that looks stunning when it’s clean and polished. It compliments any home décor – until it starts looking dingy.
If you’re like me, you have some brass pieces that just look better in their old antiquey state. I wouldn’t touch those pieces for nothing.
But, there are some pieces that are more modern looking that I do want to keep clean. If you need help cleaning your brass the natural way, read on, we’ll get you started.
Is it Solid Brass or Brass Plated?
The most important step before cleaning brass with the methods listed below is to check and make sure the item you’re cleaning is actually brass.
Many items look and feel like brass, but are not actually made of brass. Using a simple household magnet, attach the magnet to the object.
If it doesn’t stick, it’s brass. If it does stick, then it’s more than likely brass-plated steel or iron.
Do not use these methods if your brass is plated or you may end up washing it away.
It doesn’t hurt to double-check, even if Grandma swears up and down that the brass lantern she passed down to you is authentic. Do you want to risk ruining a prized possession by not taking two seconds to check?
How to Clean and Polish Solid Brass
Before you start cleaning your brass, make sure you really want to clean it. Just because there is tarnish doesn’t mean it needs to be (or should be) cleaned.
Sometimes it’s a personal preference to keep the tarnish. It adds a desired patina which I do love on some of my pieces.
Soap and Water
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the easiest. The first step is to try ordinary water and dish soap.
- Fill a sink with lukewarm water, enough to cover the object
- Add a small amount of gentle dish soap (1 to 2 teaspoons)
- Let your brass item soak for a bit
Wash the object with a cloth or use a soft-bristled toothbrush for any tight areas.
After you’ve given your brass a bath, rinse it, dry it, polish and protect it, then buff and shine it!
Homemade Brass Polish
With just a few ingredients, you can create a brass polish that is safe and leaves a nice lemony scent:
- Squeeze the juice from a half a lemon into a bowl.
- Add table salt to the lemon juice until it forms a paste.
- Use a clean, soft cloth to apply the paste to your brass object. Rub the paste over the brass to clean. Rub with the grain.
Rinse away the polish and dry immediately with another clean cloth and buff with soft cloth.
Because of the abrasiveness of the salt or baking soda, try not to rub too hard when cleaning.
Protecting Your Brass
To keep your brass shiny and new, wipe it down with some olive oil using a clean cloth. Don’t use a thick heavy layer as you will only be defeating the purpose of a nice polish.
Too much oil will cause smudging of fingerprints. A light layer should do the job nicely.
- Lightly moisten a clean, soft cloth with olive oil then rub on brass piece.
- Use another clean, soft cloth to buff the olive oil into a nice thin even layer of protection.
This will help to keep the oxidation process from happening as often as it would if not coated. You won’t have to polish it as much either.
These low-budget cleaning tips can keep your brass objects looking shiny and new without having to worry about the harmful chemicals in commercial brass polish.