How To

How to Clean Brass | Old-Fashioned Methods

Have your brass objects become tarnished or dull? Learn what cleans brass and how to clean brass using these old-fashioned methods.

By Earl Proulx

Apr 01 2020

How to clean brass

How to Clean Brass | Old-Fashioned Methods

Wondering how to clean brass in a variety of old-fashioned ways, from ketchup to toothpaste? We’ve got you covered! Earl Proulx received a lot of letters after he ran a tip in his “Plain Talk” column in Yankee Magazine about cleaning a dishwasher with powdered fruit juice mix — some supporting the idea and others opposing it. One letter was from a man in the Navy. He cleaned with powdered juice mix all the time. In fact, he wrote, they didn’t use anything fancy to clean brass aboard his ship. Instead they cleaned all their brass with powdered or canned fruit juice. Actually, the answer to “What cleans brass?” might as well be anything.

How to Clean Brass | Old-Fashioned Methods

How to clean brass with ketchup:

Cleaning brass with ketchup only sounds strange. You can clean brass by rubbing ketchup or Worcestershire sauce on with a damp cloth.

How to clean brass with onions:

Another alternative for shining brass is to boil onions in water and use the cooled water to polish these metals.

How to clean brass with vinegar:

To make an inexpensive homemade brass cleaner, mix equal parts salt and flour with enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Rub on vigorously with a damp cloth. Then wash, rinse, and dry thoroughly. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 1 pint of water. Heat until warm, then apply as above.

How to clean brass with toothpaste:

Small brass objects can be cleaned with a little toothpaste (not the gel type). Apply it with a soft, damp cloth or toothbrush, then rinse and dry.

How to clean tarnished brass:

To remove tarnish from brass, dip a lemon slice or rind in a little salt and rub it on the object. Then clean and dry with paper towels. Add a little ammonia to a soap-and-water solution to clean these metals. Apply with a soft paintbrush or rag, then rinse and wipe dry. Do you have any tips for how to clean brass? Let us know in the comments! Editor’s Note: Using old-fashioned methods or homemade brass cleaner can sometimes dull the brass finish. If this happens, polish with water in which onions have been boiled, or with Worcestershire sauce (a pungent sauce made of soy, vinegar, and garlic) and then rub with olive oil to protect the shine. Always consult an expert when trying to clean valuable pieces.This post was first published in 2011 and has been updated.

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