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Brass is a malleable and durable metal. A combination of zinc and copper-used in making decorative objects, cookware, jewelry, and musical instruments. It tarnishes easily. What happens in tarnishing is that it reacts with the oxygen present in the air and forms oxide.
Let’s chuck the science part and go back to what we were talking about. Before stepping towards the process of cleaning make sure that you determine whether the brass article is solid brass or just brass plated.
Solid brass or brass plated? How do you determine that? What’s the difference?
Just grab your refrigerator magnet and bring it near your article. Solid brass does not get attracted to magnets. But if your article does attract to the magnet, it’s brass plated from outside and made of some other metal from insides like iron or steel.
How will you clean your article depends on whether it is lacquered or not. Lacquered brass has a glossy protective coating and is more towards the yellow shade. You can easily clean the tarnish from it by wiping it with a damp cloth.
But if your article is not lacquered or plated, then you will have to put in some more effort. Though there are many chemical-based brass cleansers available in the market, you can go for the natural ones which are already available at your homes.
7 Best Ways to Clean Brass
1. Using Ketchup
Have you ever imagined that you can use your favorite topping for removing tarnish from your brass articles? Well just go to your kitchen and grab your bottle of ketchup.
- Squirt some of the ketchup on a clean cloth and rub it on the article.
- Let it settle for some time and then rinse with warm water or clean it with a damp cloth.
- Buff dry it thoroughly. The ketchup that you used has a mild acid which helped in removing the tarnish.
Bonus tip: You can take some tomato juice in a bowl. Immerse your article in it for five minutes. Rinse it with warm water and dry thoroughly.
Related: 15 Surprising Uses of Ketchup
2. Using Coke
Buy some coke…not for sharing it with somebody! For cleaning your brass articles! Yup, coke is much more useful than you think.
Submerge your article in coke. Leave it overnight and rinse it with normal water. The coke would have worked its magic and gotten rid of the tarnish.
The layer of oxide which is formed on your article will get dissolved in coke. The mild acid in coke will help in reversing the process of tarnishing.
3. Soap or Mild Detergent
Sometimes your brass articles may not have tarnished but just have become dusty or dirty. For that, you can just submerge your article in warm soapy water. After that, just wipe it with a dry cloth.
You can even use a toothbrush to rub the areas which are still dirty after submerging. This method may require some more effort if you are using it to remove the tarnish.
Add one teaspoon of salt to one and half a cup of vinegar. Add all-purpose flour to this until it forms the consistency of a paste.
Using a toothbrush rub the paste and leave it for about 10 minutes. Rinse it with water and if required use soap to clean off the paste. Wipe it off with a clean cloth and dry it properly.
You will be more than content after using this method because it will help remove tough stains completely. This is because vinegar will dissolve the dense spots and the all-purpose flour will absorb dirt.
Bonus tip: If you don’t want to make a paste you can also heat a few drops of vinegar to a bearable temperature. Dip cotton balls in it and rub them in a circular motion for a few minutes. Rinse it with normal water and dry thoroughly.
Do you know that your toothpaste which helps to keep your teeth white can also be used for cleaning your tarnished articles? Well, it will work only if you select the perfect toothpaste for it. No gels! Only the white ones!
Take a clean cloth and squirt some paste on it. Apply a thin layer and let it rest for a few minutes. Polish it with another clean cloth.
If there are any tough spots it may require a little more elbow grease. Don’t hesitate to use some more paste for those stubborn spots. Wash it under cool water and dry it with a soft cloth.
Magnesium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, and calcium carbonate present in the toothpaste will help in dealing with tarnish.
6. Lemon Juice and its Partners in Crime
Lemon can be used alone or along with its partners in crime. Yes, you heard me right! Lemon alone is powerful enough to deal with the stubborn tarnish and stains but to ease your work you can include its partners in crime. They are salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar!
Lemon is a mild acid so you can use just half a lemon. Pour out its juice in a bowl, dip cotton balls and rub it in circular motions. Wipe it with a wet rag and dry thoroughly.
If there are light stains you can just sprinkle some table salt on a half-cut lemon. Rub the lemon directly on the article. Buff dry till it shines as new. Salt has abrasive powers which increase the effectiveness of lemon.
The combination of lemon and baking soda will solve your problem with ease. Take half a lemon. Add one teaspoon of baking soda. Rub-polish-buff-and reapply it as many times as you need. Clean the leftover residue with a wet cloth. This hack is the best when you can’t submerge some objects in a solution like knockers and doorknobs. Lemon being a mild acid and baking soda being a base makes a super-hit combination for reversing the process of tarnishing.
You can also add 4 teaspoons of baking soda to a large bowl of water and simply place the object inside it for a few hours.
Lemon and cream of tartar are ready to help you get rid of heavy tarnish. Add two parts of cream tartar to one part of the lemon. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Clean it with warm water and dry. Tartar is an acid that is a by-product of wine processing. So it eases the process of tarnish removal.
There’s no doubt that yogurt has a long list of its uses starting from beauty care to cleaning. Take some yogurt. Apply and cover your brass article with it and let it dry completely. Wash it off with tap water and dry it with a clean cloth.
What works here is the lactic acid present in yogurt which helps in breaking down and dissolving the tarnish, thus reversing the process.
How to Protect Your Brass Articles From Future Tarnish?
Now that you have cleaned your brass articles you might want to know how to prevent them from getting tarnished again, right?
The only solution to it is creating a barrier between the article and the oxygen present in the atmosphere. For this, you can apply the lacquer again using a paintbrush or cotton balls.
You can also rub it with a thin coat of linseed oil. If not linseed oil, go for olive oil or mineral oil. Let it dry completely and prevent touching your articles because it will only increase the chances of it tarnishing again.
Just a little care from your side will help your brass objects maintain their glory.