How to Clean Brass


Just like any other decorative alloy we use in the home, brass also has the tendency to tarnish and lose its original beautiful luster. Over time, it accumulates grease and dirt causing a nasty looking discoloration. However, the good news is that there are some things you can do to restore brass to its original shine. We’ll give you several tips on how to clean brass.

Is It Really Tarnish?

The very first step on how to clean brass is to determine if what you see on your brass surfaces is really tarnish. Remember that over time, brass accumulates what is called patina, which is a form of protective oxidation. If what you see on the surface is really patina then it serves as a protection for your brass item. You will usually find this in antiques where patina develops and thus protecting brass from any further oxidation.

Warning: In case you want to remove the layer of patina to get the original luster of your brass then you might want to call a professional cleaner to remove it. Doing it yourself requires using abrasive cleansers that may damage your brass pieces. If you don’t have a clue about how to clean brass that has a layer of patina then you might be doing more harm than good.

Is It Really Brass?

Not everything that looks like a shiny nugget of gold is really gold. So it is with brass, not everything that looks like brass is really brass. Here’s a way you can determine if what you have in front of you is really brass. Grab a magnet and hold it against your brass piece or surface. If the magnet sticks to it then it really isn’t brass or it could just be brass plated. If the magnet sticks then you use a different method on how to clean brass. Do not use abrasive cleansers on brass plated items, as that will just wear away the brass plating.

Soapy Water

Using soapy water is the most basic method to use on how to clean brass. This is especially effective on oil and dirt that sticks on brass surfaces. You may use a brush or a rag to gently rub soapy water onto the surface. You can also use toothpaste as a type of mild polish when you’re done.

Removing Tarnish

To remove any tarnish and restore the luster of brass surfaces, you should use a brass polish. Before you start on how to clean brass and remove any tarnish you should first remove the lacquer coating. Use a paintbrush to apply a varnish or paint remover. After removing the lacquer coating apply brass polish using a piece of cloth to restore its shine.

After you get the shine back apply a coating of lacquer to maintain your brass’s shiny look. Your newly restored brass will require regular dusting after it has regained its natural shiny appearance. Use a soft dry cloth to do this.