Home Remedies for Cleaning Brass

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From the instruments in a band to the fixtures in a bathroom, brass is a material that has been manufactured for thousands of years – all over the world. However, to maintain its beauty, you will need to polish and keep it clean. Home remedies for cleaning brass can help you save time and money when you start to see your objects looking tarnished and dull.

What is Brass?

It’s the combination of zinc and copper that creates the buttery yellow alloy of brass. Depending on the percentages of the two materials, brass can be used to make a multitude of things. You can find brass in decorative accents in a home, used for piping, and turned into cartridge cases for weapons. The typical configuration of basic brass is about 67% copper and 33% zinc. The end result is stronger and more durable than copper.

Brass Cleaning Home Remedies

The environment that your brass objects are stored, situated or displayed can compromise the appearance. You’ll have to keep up with the maintenance of brass to keep it from getting tarnished. With home remedies for cleaning brass, there is no more need to purchase expensive products found in stores. A few suggestions include:

a) Vinegar and Salt:

To polish brass, mix equal amounts of white vinegar and salt to make a paste. Rub the remedy into an object using a clean, soft cloth or paper towel. Rinse with cool water, and then polish with a soft towel to dry. Some people have reported better results when using a clean cloth soaked in heated vinegar and then dipped in salt.

b) Vinegar and Baking Soda:

Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and baking soda to create a paste that will remove the tarnish from brass. Do not use until the fizzing action has stopped. Use a clean, soft cloth or paper towel to rub the paste into the object. Follow up by rinsing with cool water and polishing with a soft towel until it becomes dry.

c) Ammonia:

To remove the tarnish from lacquered brass, gently scrub the object with a soft brush dipped in a small amount of ammonia. Wipe off remaining liquid with a soft cloth. Since unlacquered brass tarnishes when exposed to air, it is suggested to wipe objects with a little ammonia on a weekly basis.


Mix equal amounts of flour, salt and vinegar to create a paste that polishes brass. Spread the paste onto the metal and allow it to dry. Use a clean, dry cloth to buff the brass object.

e) Lemon Juice:

Make a paste out of lemon juice and salt to clean tarnished brass. Coat your object with the home remedy and let the mixture stand for five minutes. Wash off the paste using warm water and rinse well. Polish the object until it is dry. The lemon juice can also be mixed with baking soda or cream of tartar instead of using the salt.

f) Nail Polish Remover [1]:

When you are ready to relacquer a brass object, remove the old or damaged coating with nail polish remover. Pour a small amount of remover onto a soft cloth and rub into a brass object until the old lacquer is lifted. You can now polish or apply new lacquer.

g) Rubbing Alcohol:

You can clean your brass objects with rubbing alcohol – one of the most common items found in a household. This remedy works best with a sponge that has both a soft and abrasive side. Add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the soft side of a sponge. Wipe down your object with the alcohol, and then follow up using the grainy side when spots appear too stubborn. Use a soft cloth to buff.

h) Worcestershire Sauce:

Use a clean, damp cloth to rub a small amount of Worcestershire sauce into your brass piece, and then wipe it clean. The results will create an impressive shine – thanks to the acidic content of the sauce that eats away the tarnish.

i) Onions:

Chop an onion (not too finely) and place the pieces in a pan that is filled with water. Bring the contents to a boil, and then allow to simmer for two hours. Lastly, use a colander to separate the liquid from the onions. It is the onion water that is used to polish your brass. Use a soft cloth.

j) Magnet:

To determine the best way to clean a brass object, you might have to figure out whether or not it is solid brass or really just brass plated steel. A quick trick is to place a small magnet on the piece. If the magnet falls, the piece is solid brass – if it sticks, the piece is brass plated steel and you will need a home remedy to clean rust, not tarnish.

k) Steel Wool:

Steel wool with a fine grade can be used to buff away the rust from a brass plated item. Some people will have to repaint the piece if severely damaged.

l) Soapy Water:

You can use warm, soapy water to wash some brass objects. Immerse the object in a basic filled with soapy water, and then thoroughly dry once it is clean. Use a clean rag to buff it shiny.

m) Milk:

The lactic acid found in milk makes a good cleansing soak for brass pieces. Combine two parts milk and one part water, and soak your brass object for a couple of hours. Rinse off with clear water, and then buff dry using a clean cloth.

n) Mineral Oil:

Break up stubborn stains and add shine to brass by rubbing with mineral oil. Add a small amount of the oil to a clean, dry cloth, and rub thoroughly.

o) Tomato Juice:

Use tomato juice to clean and brighten your brass objects. Add one part water for every two parts of tomato juice that you use. Cover the brass with the mixture, and let it stand for a couple of hours. Rinse well with water, and then buff dry using a soft cloth.

p) Ketchup:

Some people have actually cleaned their brass with ketchup. Let the remedy dry before scrubbing off with a cloth or soft-bristled brush.

q) Olive Oil:

To protect newly shined brass from getting tarnished, use olive oil as a polish after cleaning it.

r) Yogurt:

Apply plain yogurt to brass and rub clean with a cloth or your fingers. Allow the object to dry, and then buff with a clean, dry cloth.

s) Toothbrush:

When applying a home remedy to brass, use an old toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach places or handle delicate engravings. Gently brush over the object to avoid any damage.


[1] Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest; pg. 224.