How to Remove Tarnished Brass

Cabinet hardware, door hinges, bath faucets, furniture, and beautiful curios are all examples of brass items that most of us have in and around our homes. Brass, a copper-zinc alloy, is widely valued for its durability, corrosion resistance, and aesthetic appeal. Tarnish, on the other hand, can accumulate over time and diminish the look of your brass components.

It is feasible to restore tarnished brass to like-new condition, but there are a few things to keep in mind. To begin, you’ll want to avoid using coarse abrasives or strong chemicals that might harm the metal. Determine if the object is solid brass or simply brass plated. Placing a magnet against the brass will help it stick. If the magnet does not adhere, it is solid brass. If it sticks to the object, it’s plated. Brass-plated items may be cleaned by scrubbing them with hot, soapy water. If you use something too abrasive, you risk scraping away the plating.

The lacquer should be removed.

Many solid-brass objects have a lacquer covering added at the manufacture. To remove the tarnish, you must first remove the lacquer. You may use acetone or lacquer remover, but first try this: soak the brass item in very hot water for five minutes. Then, take it out of the water and set it aside to cool. The heating/cooling cycle causes the brass to expand and contract, causing the link between the brass and the lacquer to break. Using a plastic putty knife or your fingernail, try scraping or peeling off the lacquer.

Soak the tarnished brass in water

If the hot-water bath does not release the lacquer, scrape it off with an acetone or lacquer remover-soaked towel. After removing the lacquer, bathe the brass item in hot, soapy water to clean it. Remove any caked-on filth or dust with an old toothbrush. Rinse the object well before drying it with a clean cloth. It’s now time to remove the tarnish and polish it.

Remove the tarnish to reveal the gleaming brass.

Make this safe, nontoxic cleaning solution to remove the tarnish: squeeze the juice of one lemon into a small basin. Then, mix in two tablespoons of baking soda to make a thick poultice. Rub the cleaning solution onto the tarnished brass item with a super-soft microfiber cloth. With a cotton swab or your fingertips, work the solution into small areas, holes, and crevices.

Wait about 10 minutes before rinsing and drying the item. Repeat the poultice procedure if there is still some residual tarnish. Once the tarnish has been removed, add a light application of mineral oil to the brass and buff it with a clean microfiber cloth until it sparkles. Repeat the oiling and polishing technique every six months to keep the brass from tarnishing.


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