If you’ve purchased brass hardware, you certainly want to keep it looking its best. Brass cabinet hardware can tarnish easily, so be sure to follow these steps so you’ll know how to clean brass to keep it looking beautiful.
Rubbing alcohol works great for cleaning light soils on brass hardware. Apply the alcohol with the sponge side of a scrubbing sponge to each of the brass hardware pieces. For tougher scuff marks and other issues, flip the sponge over to the white scrub pad side and gently rub it with the grain of the metal. When you finish, wipe the brass hardware with a clean, soft rag.
Once you’ve cleaned your brass hardware, you should make sure to polish it as well. One great tool for brass hardware is a dust cloth that has been lighted treated with oil. This is called a “yellow” treated dust cloth. Wipe the brass with this cloth. Then buff each brass hardware piece dry with a soft, cotton cloth. Another great secret for polishing brass is olive oil. After polishing each brass knob or brass pull, rub it with a cloth that has been moistened with olive oil! Olive oil actually retards tarnish. You don’t need to buy anything special – just use the regular olive oil you have in the house.
Dealing with Tarnished Brass
If your cabinet hardware is not lacquered, it will tarnish easily when exposed to air. To keep it looking its best, wipe your brass knobs and pulls on a weekly basis with a small amount of ammonia on a soft cloth. Use a commercial cleaner like that you’d find in a grocery store or hardware store to remove the tarnish. Be careful, however, about using these products on antique brass. Sometimes, the aged look that you love will be removed by the cleaner – and you certainly don’t want this to happen! Use a small amount of the cleaner on the underside of the hardware to check and make sure that this doesn’t occur.
Polishing Antique Brass
Learning how to clean brass pulls and other hardware with an antique finish is an entirely different process. As explained above, many cleaners can accidentally remove the distinguishing features of the antique look. To properly polish antique brass pieces, wash them in hot, soapy water. Then, rinse and dry each piece and use a moist soft cloth with boiled linseed oil on it. Rub this onto the brass hardware until all of the dirt and grease is removed. Then, polish each brass cabinet hardware piece with a soft cloth. If you are dealing with items that are heavily tarnished, corroded or heavily stained, wash each piece in hot soapy water or a weak ammonia mixture and then rinse each piece. Next, dampen a soft cloth with hot vinegar and dip the cloth in table salt. Rub this onto the brass hardware. Another option instead of the vinegar is to make a paste of flower, salt and vinegar. Use this a few times, as necessary. Once the brass hardware is clean, wash it in hot, soapy water, rinse it and dry it completely. Then, polish each brass knob or brass pull with a cloth that is moistened with lemon oil. If you have very old brass items, they will require extra care. You might want to consult with a museum expert or a jeweler for advice.
Following these easy steps to clean brass hardware, you’ll soon be ready to admire a job well done. Enjoy your sparkling brass cabinet hardware for years of great use – and take care of it so that it will shine for you!