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How To Clean Brass, Copper & More: {DIY Methods}

Posted By Tipnut On February 15, 2010 @ 6:19 am In DIY | 4 Comments

Here’s a list of homemade cleaners I’ve collected over the years to help remove tarnish and buff metals to a shine, some of them may surprise you!

Door KnockerDirections For Use:

  • Using a damp cloth or toothbrush, scrub with one of the following then wipe off with a damp cloth and buff to a shine with a piece of flannel or other soft material. If the piece has a lacquer coating for protection, simply wipe with a damp cloth then dry with a soft one.

(For Brass)

  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Ketchup (allow to dry then scrub off with a cloth or soft bristle brush)
  • Tomato Juice Soak: Cover the piece with tomato juice and allow to soak for a few hours. Rinse off with clear water then buff dry.
  • Milk Soak: Mix two parts milk with one part water, soak pieces for a couple hours then rinse with clear water and buff dry with a cloth. If you’re out of milk, try plain yogurt (undiluted) or sour milk instead.
  • Vinegar Soak: Mix two parts vinegar with one part water, soak pieces for a couple hours then rinse with clear water and buff dry.
  • Cream of Tartar & Lemon Juice: Make a paste then scrub into piece. Rinse off with clear water and buff.
  • Vinegar & Salt: Pour vinegar on a cloth, sprinkle with salt then gently rub into piece.
  • Lemon Juice & Salt or Baking Soda: Sprinkle salt or baking soda on a wedge of lemon, this will provide a gentle abrasion for removing grime.
  • Old-timers Tip: Rub piece all over with olive oil then with a dry rotten-stone (tripoli), remove with a cloth and buff to a shine.

Protect From Tarnishing: Keep things shiny by polishing with olive oil.

Lacquer Finish: Some pieces have a lacquer finish to help prevent tarnishing. If you wish to remove it, boil piece in a large pot of boiling water with 3 tablespoons baking soda and 3 tablespoons washing soda. Polish dry with a soft, dry cloth once the lacquer has been successfully removed.

  • Why do things like Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce & Lemon Juice work? It’s the acidic content that eats away at the tarnish. Milk also contains a lactic acid and that’s why soaking a piece in milk will help.

For Copper & Metals:
*First published November 1, 2006 and moved to this page for better organization

Kettle1 TBSP Flour
1 TBSP Salt
1 TBSP White Vinegar


  • In a small bowl, combine salt and flour. Stir until well blended.
  • Make a thick paste by adding vinegar to the salt and flour.
  • Using a damp sponge or cloth, smear on the paste. Rub gently.
  • Allow polish to dry for approximately one hour.
  • Rinse piece well with warm water.
  • Buff dry with soft cloth.

Suitable For: Brass, Bronze, Copper, Pewter
Not Suitable For: Silver, Silver Plate, Jewelry

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