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5 tips for cleaning brass

Cleaning brass at home doesn't require harsh chemicals.

This lovely golden alloy of copper and zinc has built-in germicidal and antimicrobial benefits that scientists credit to its copper component. So it naturally resists germs.

Which means cleaning brass is easy, whether you choose to use warm, soapy water, ketchup, toothpaste, vinegar, or olive and mineral oil. Here are 5 brass cleaning methods that work.

1. cleaning brass in warm, soapy water.

Place the item in a sink, run warm water, and add a few squirts of hand dishwashing liquid. Use a soft sponge to gently remove surface tarnish. An old toothbrush can be used to remove dirt and tarnishes from crevices.

If your tarnished item can't be submerged in the sink, grab two buckets. Fill the first with warm water and several squirts of dishwashing liquid; the second with only warm water.

Use a sponge to apply the solution directly onto the surface, taking care not to drip the solution on the floor. A toothbrush dipped in the dishwashing liquid bucket can also be used here to remove dirt and tarnish from crevices.

Rinse the solution from the surface using the sponge dipped in clear water or under running water. Polish dry to restore the original shine and luster.

2. cleaning brass with ketchup, worcestershire sauce, or tobasco sauce.

Squirt your sauce of choice - ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, or Tobasco sauce onto a damp cloth. The acidity in each of these food products can remove light surface oxidation (tarnish) quite effectively.

Simply apply directly on the tarnished surface. Rub until tarnish is removed, reapplying as needed. Rinse and polish dry to restore the original shine and luster.

3. cleaning brass with toothpaste.

If the first two solutions didn't do the trick, apply a pea-size drop of toothpaste onto a cotton cloth or a cotton swab. Rub in small, circular motions until the exterior dirt and tarnish is removed. Rinse and polish dry to restore the original shine and luster.

4. cleaning brass with vinegar.

Still no success at removing tarnish from the brass item? Pull out a sauce pan. It's time for the hot vinegar treatment. Vinegar's acid is similar to the chemical make up of copper and brass products you'll find on grocery store shelves.

Bring the white vinegar to a boil in a stainless steel pan, and then submerge the tarnished item. Let sit for 30 seconds or so, then check to see if some or all of the tarnish is removed. If the item is tarnish-free, remove with tongs. Allow to cool briefly, then rinse with water until vinegar is removed.

If tarnish remains, place the item back in the hot vinegar, checking it again after 60 seconds. Remove, rinse, and polish dry.

5. polish brass with a cloth dipped olive or mineral oil.

Rubbing brass with olive oil or mineral oil will help minimize new tarnish and buildup, as well as break apart any nasty stains. Moisten a dry white cloth with your oil, and rub generously.

Check out the Clean Organized Home Store for more brass cleaning solutions!

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.