How to clean brass with ketchup, lemon, and more

how to clean brass

Real brass is a robust material that can withstand intense cleaning. However, this is usually not even necessary. If brass is tarnished or covered with fingerprints, simple household remedies can also help. We will tell you which simple ingredients can be used to clean brass.

Brass or not brass? That is the question!

Before we can talk about how to clean brass properly, there is one basic question: Is it really brass? Genuine brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Since the zinc content varies, the color spectrum of brass is also very broad, which makes it difficult to identify it only by its appearance. The magnet trick is very handy to clear this matter up! Take a magnet and check whether the object in question is magnetic. If it is, 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 the object is, cleaning brass will be a piece of cake with these tips.

Cleaning brass made easy with home remedies

To clean brass professionally, you don't necessarily need expensive products from the drugstore. 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 and 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 matt 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. This household remedy can also be used to clean brushed brass. But what can you do with the other half of the lemon? You can use it, for example, to clean silver. This way, you can make your brass and silver shine with just a single lemon!
  • Ketchup: Makes stains disappear
    Yes, you read that right! Although ketchup usually leaves rather annoying stains, it can actually help you to clean brass. Simply apply some ketchup to the brass, let it soak in for a while, and then rinse with water. Unfortunately, though, ketchup stains on fabrics cannot be removed with ketchup!

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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 microfiber cloth. To avoid it next time, you can put on some cotton gloves while cleaning.

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

If brass has a green oxidation layer, it tends to be cleaned with extra strong cleaning agents. However, this makes collectors and experts' hair stand on end. This is because verdigris develops over time in brass and even gives the material a higher value. So, for verdigris, careful cleaning with a duster is completely sufficient.

Tip 3: Cleaning small brass objects

Small objects made of solid brass can be made to look as good as new in a bath of boiling vinegar water. After a short soaking time, remove the item and let it cool down. Finally, polish the brass again. A quick tip: ventilate the room thoroughly during and after this and follow our tips to remove bad odors.

Tip 4: The fountain of youth for brass

The less often cleaning is necessary, the better. It is therefore worthwhile to clean brass and then seal it. A special lacquer is suitable for this: It protects the material from oxidation and discoloration and prolongs the time until the next cleaning.