How to Clean Brass

How to Clean BrassThis is your guide on how to clean brass to keep it looking shiny and spotless. There are two kinds of brass to consider – brass with a protective lacquer coating (most common) and raw brass. Raw brass is the bigger challenge to care for, since this copper-and-zinc alloy oxidizes when it is exposed to air, resulting in tarnish. Removing tarnish from raw brass requires some elbow grease.

To remove dirt from lacquered brass, mix mild dishwashing liquid with warm water and apply it with a nonabrasive sponge or cloth. Rinse with fresh water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Buff with an extremely soft cloth (cloth nappies are recommended) or chamois. Avoid toweling and paper towels, because they will scratch the surface.

To remove tarnish from raw brass, take a tip from antique dealers and the military: use a metal polish, which contains cleaners to eliminate the tarnish, abrasives for polishing and oil to protect the brass from the air. Follow the instructions on the package. Use only a thin layer of metal polish - more is not better. To keep your unlacquered brass gleaming, you will need to polish it every few months.

How to clean brass naturally: When a commercial brass cleaner isn’t available for removing tarnish from raw brass, slice a lemon in half, sprinkle the cut surface with salt and then squeeze the lemon over the brass that needs cleaning. Wipe down the brass with one soft cloth and then buff the brass with a second soft cloth. The technique works equally well with lacquered and raw brass. An alternative: make a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water (or just use toothpaste, also a mild abrasive). Apply the paste to a soft cloth and then rub the brass. Wipe clean with a fresh cloth. After cleaning brass, rub unlacquered brass with a light coating of mineral oil, olive oil or lemon oil to protect it from further tarnish. Lacquered brass doesn’t need this protection.

To shine up soot-grimed brass fireplace equipment, the aforementioned techniques for cleaning brass may not be sufficient. If so, try rubbing the brass with extra-fine steel wool or very fine emery paper. Careful, you’re in abrasive territory now. Rub the metal in one direction only – not with a circular motion. Once the brass is clean, follow up with a commercial brass polish.

Simple solution: To remove a sticker from brass, don’t attempt to scrape it off—this could damage the finish. Apply isopropyl alcohol, Bestine Solvent and Thinner or Zelkin (available at art stores) to a cloth nappy. Wipe the solvent onto the sticker and leave it for a few seconds. Then wipe the sticker and its gummy adhesive away. Buff with a clean nappy.

I hope this guide on how to clean brass brings you cleaning success!

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