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How to clean brass with ketchup, lemon, and more

how to clean brass

Genuine brass is a robust material that can withstand intense cleaning. However, this usually won’t be necessary. If brass is tarnished or covered with fingerprints, simple household remedies can help. We’ll show you which simple household ingredients you can use to clean brass.

Brass or not brass? That is the question!

Before we can talk about how to clean brass properly, the question is: Is it really brass? Genuine brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Since the zinc content varies, brass has a broad colour spectrum, making it difficult to identify it only by its appearance. One trick is to use a magnet!  Take a magnet and check whether it sticks to the object. If it does, it’s probably a piece of iron rather than brass.

Typical brass objects include candlesticks, brass wind instruments, lamps, pots, chalices and door handles. No matter what your piece is, cleaning brass will be easy with these tips.

Cleaning brass made easy with home remedies

To clean brass professionally, you don’t necessarily need expensive cleaning products. We will tell you which home remedies you can use to clean and polish brass and make it shine!

  • Soapy water cleans gently
    Nothing can go wrong with this gentle cleaning: Simply clean the brass with a sponge and soapy water, then polish the brass with a soft towel until it's dry.
  • Flour, vinegar and salt: A recipe for brass cleaning
    Mix equal amounts of the three ingredients into a paste and use it to coat the brass. Leave this brass cleaning household remedy to work for a few hours, then wash it off with a damp cloth. Finally, polish the brass with a dry towel.
  • Citric acid: From matte to shiny
    Half a lemon will help with dull brass! Sprinkle some coarse sea salt onto the lemon and rub the brass with it. Finally, wipe with water and dry. You can also use this household remedy to clean brushed brass. But what can you do with the other half of the lemon? You can use it, for example, to clean copper. This way, you can make your brass and copper shine with just a single lemon!
  • Tomato sauce: Makes stains disappear
    Yes, you read that right! Although tomato sauce usually leaves rather annoying stains, it can also help you to clean brass. Simply apply some to the brass, let it soak in for a while, and then rinse with water.
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Even more tips for cleaning and polishing brass

You now know the best home remedies to polish and clean brass. But we have four more tips for how to clean brass properly:

Tip 1: Leave no marks

Don't worry if you end up leaving fingerprints behind during the cleaning process – you can polish them off with a microfibre cloth. To avoid it next time, try wearing some cotton gloves while cleaning.

Tip 2: Is this art, or can it be cleaned off?

If brass has a green oxidation layer, extra-strength cleaning agents can be used to clean it. However, because discolouration develops over time in brass, it can increase the value of the object. So, for cleaning tarnished brass, carefully using a duster is enough.

Tip 3: Cleaning small brass objects

Small, solid brass pieces can look as good as new after a bath of boiling vinegar water. After a short soaking time, remove the item and let it cool down. Finally, polish the brass again with a microfibre cloth. A quick tip: ventilate the room thoroughly during and after this and follow our pointers to remove unpleasant or foul odours.

Tip 4: The fountain of youth for brass

When it comes to cleaning brass, less often is usually better. Sealing brass after cleaning can help extend the time between cleans.  A special lacquer is suitable for this: It protects the material from oxidation and discolouration and reduces the need to clean your brass.