Selling guides, Tips and tricks

How To Clean Brass - A Guide

How To Clean Brass - A Guide
This article covers:

How to clean your old brass

Brass is a very popular metal, found in many British homes. It's used for a number of things including cookware, musical instruments, ornaments, and even jewellery. You may also find, especially if your house is of a certain age, that some of your fixtures and fittings are made of brass, such as doorknobs and knockers for example.


Brass is a metal alloy made from a combination of zinc and copper. It has a classic, bright, yellow-gold appearance, which can be very shiny and reflective when new or freshly polished. However, like all metals, it can tarnish with age and use.If your brass has lost its sparkle and you're looking for the best way to clean brass, then you're in the right place. We've got lots of handy hints and tips to let you know how to clean badly tarnished brass and get that gleam back in your life.

How to clean tarnished brass

When it comes to thinking "what cleans brass?", your first thought might be a good old-fashioned brass cleaner or polish. Trouble is, while special store-bought brass cleaners can often do quite a good job, they do have some serious disadvantages.

What clean Brass

Metal polishes, such as Brasso, contain many strong chemicals. Whilst products like this can remove patina (tarnish) and other stains from your brass items, you should be very careful not to leave them on too long as they can also do damage to the metal. They can do significant harm to other surfaces as well. Getting chemical brass cleaner on your clothes, carpets or wooden surfaces can leave stains that are very hard to get out. Getting it on your skin may cause irritation and burns, so always use gloves when handling the product and when cleaning tarnished brass. Apart from the dreadful smell (always keep your working area well-ventilated if using special brass cleaner!), these polishes can be extremely hard to get off the brass once you are finished cleaning it. Sometimes trying to remove the oily film from the objects can take longer than actually cleaning the brass! If you're going to use a professional brass polisher, we strongly recommend that you carefully read the manufacturer's instructions and follow them accurately.

Can coke clean brass?

Cleaning brass with coke is something that we neither recommended nor is it very effective. Using coke to clean things is somewhat of an urban legend. Many internet searches on how to clean everyday household items see "cleaning with coke" pop up as one of the top suggestions. In reality, however, it is likely to do as much harm as good in most cases, especially if you're cleaning precious metals. Coca-Cola and other carbonated soda drinks contain phosphoric acid, citric acid, and carbonic acid, which can remove rust, and stains and break down mineral build-up, such as limescale. But these acids also corrode metals such as tin, iron, and steel.

Soda Drinks

The myth that the acid content of cola drinks makes them the best method for various household cleaning purposes, such as removing tarnish and cleaning brass, is wide of the mark. We believe that there are lots more effective, cheaper, and less sticky options out there. Coca-Cola itself even states: “We don’t make any claims relating to other uses. Instead, we recommend using products specifically designed for cleaning or rust removal.”

How to clean brass with vinegar

Cleaning brass ornaments and trinkets with vinegar is another option that you can try. This method uses a few ingredients that you'll hopefully already have in your cupboards at home.

salt and vinegar

When cleaning brass with vinegar, you'll need to make a paste by dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt into half a cup of vinegar. Next, add some flour until the mixture becomes a paste. Rub it onto your item and leave it to soak into the brass for about 10 minutes. Wash off the paste by rinsing it under warm water and buff dry with a clean soft cloth. Warning - Some brass objects are coated with a lacquer finish. These items should be cleaned using only hot, soapy water. Lacquered brass pieces that are heavily tarnished will need their lacquer removed with a varnish remover or paint stripper, first. Then clean and polish the brass before re-lacquer the item.Tip - To help protect your brass and prevent future tarnishing, you can apply a thin coating of linseed oil to clean brass with a soft cloth or towel. Alternatively, if all of the above seems like too much hard work, then why not sell your old brass items to us? At Vintage Cash Cow we buy brass in any condition, tarnished or not. Our team of professional experts can easily see past a bit of dust, rust or dirt, so selling your items without polishing them first, won't affect the price that we'll pay you for them. Sweet! All you need to do is request a free info pack from us. It contains free postage labels that you can use to send your old brass pieces to us. Just pop them in a box, along with any other vintage things that you want to sell. Remember we buy all kinds of old stuff. When your items arrive with us, one of our highly trained specialists will value your things and give you a quote based on the fair market price. Accept the offer to get paid the same day or choose to have your stuff returned to you for free. It's simple, safe and a great way to earn some extra cash, as well as clear out your home of old things that you don't use anymore. Have a look around our site to see some of the brass items that we buy. If you're not sure if your pieces will be to our taste, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give one of our friendly team a call. They're always on hand ready to answer any questions that you might have, no matter how big or small. What are you waiting for? Order your free info pack today.

Share article

Ask us anything, and we'll reply as soon as possible

Our friendly online customer support team will answer your questions seven days a week.

* Asterisk means this is a required field
Get your FREE postage pack