Kitchen Cupboard Ingredients: Brass Cleaner

Those old candlesticks you inherited could use a good cleaning, but is it necessary to reach for the synthetic commercial cleaner that may have toxic ingredients? No it’s not.
There is a better way to clean brass.

Most commonly used kitchen cupboard or refrigerator ingredients that
contain a natural acid, such as vinegar, Tobasco Sauce, ketchup, tomatoes,
milk, and lemon or lime juice, will remove tarnish.

The tarnish washes away
with an acid rub or soak. You might have to remove the lacquer cover if the
brass is new.

Do this by submerging the brass in boiling water with a few
teaspoons each baking soda and washing soda (available in the laundry section
of the supermarket). Once the lacquer has peeled off, polish dry.

By Annie B. Bond

11 comments

Chuck Klosterman
Chuck Klosterman5 years ago

Many household products can be used as cleaning implements such as vinegar, Tobasco Sauce, ketchup, tomatoes, milk, and lemon or lime juice. Everyone in their home has eco-friendly toys that can help both them and their environment. The world would be better off if more people started doing so.

Adolphus A.
Adolphus A.6 years ago

Nice tips. My party rental company has many copper pots and pans and we also have lots of brass candlesticks. I have used the lemon and salt and does remove the tarnish but is can scratch your stuff if you aren't careful. Try BrassMate because there is no rubbing involved and it is 96% water and only takes15 seconds to clean and polish a piece of brass or copper.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.6 years ago

I've just seen this remark about effort. No, I left the spoons to soak and didn't have to polish long afterwards.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.6 years ago

I've just tried this because I have some cofee spoons that look like brass(!) but have become tarnished. An edible cleaner seemed safer on spoons, and it's worked!

Rose K.
Past Member 7 years ago

Home recipes are great but require to much effort for me to use. I was told about a brass cleaner, Brassmate, which requires no physical effort and it is very mild on my hands.

Johann Strauss
Past Member 7 years ago

The best brass cleaner and copper cleaner I have found is Brassmate. I use it for my copper pots in my restaurant. Its a liquid and only takes a few seconds to clean and polish a pot and it is non hazardous. We do not even were gloves. Thanks.

Mik Allan
Past Member 7 years ago

I agree that the lacquer has to be removed if you want the brass to look natural and clean. I love a non-toxic liquid cleaner called brassmate. It makes my brass pieces look new with very little effort and it polishes, too. It it very friendly to the environment.

Sarah Adamson

I am stunned! I knew most of the great uses for vinegar, but cleaning brass was a wonderful enlightenment! The cleaners you buy are horrible and scary to use! Thanks!

Tamara Mitchell
Tamara Mitchell8 years ago

True about the lacquer cover, but it's often thin and wears through. The brass will tarnish where there is no lacquer, often in a blotchy pattern where the lacquer is gone. Rubbing through the remaining lacquer is difficult, so removing it is necessary. Once you've cleaned the brass, you can re-lacquer the whole piece again or resolve to do occasional cleaning and polishing. Personally, I find the lacquer to make brass look very artificial and I like the warm look of hand-polished brass.

Sandra Schrawder
Sandra Schrawder8 years ago

The point of the lacquer cover is to prevent having to polish the brass. A quick wipe with a microfiber cloth should take care of dusting. Use glass bobeches (wax catchers) on your brass or dripless candles so you don't need to clean wax.