If you are the owner of several brass pieces, then it would be beneficial to know how to clean brass. The combination of zinc alloy, copper and other metals is what gives brass its lustrous appeal, and like most other metals it may begin to tarnish over time. Fortunately, imperfections that may appear on brass are easily removed with the right cleaners. Cleaning brass will restore its original sheen and color and is essential to preserving the value of your cherished items.
Should you clean your brass?
Before cleaning brass you should consider if cleaning it is necessary. In some cases, tarnish may give brass an earthy look that may be quite attractive. If you have an antique piece avoid cleaning it yourself as this may lower its value if done incorrectly. Choose a professional who specializes in restorations. When cleaning brass you must remember that doing it too often can actually damage its outer layer. Therefore, clean it occasionally and in a manner that will not strip away the top layer of the brass which helps to prevent possible oxidation.
Consider if the piece you are about to clean is actually brass. Place a magnet near the item and observe the results. If it is attracted and sticks to the surface, then the item is brass-plated not brass. This means you will not be able to apply techniques that require any form of harsh scrubbing.
How to clean brass: Step by step process
Wash the item with a bit of soapy water. If you are only removing dirt then put a bit of detergent in warm water and use a soft cloth to wipe the brass with this solution. You may consider using toothpaste as a polish. For sturdier pieces use a toothbrush to get into the grooves, however, be gentle.
Use a varnish remover to get rid of any lacquer that is on the brass. This should only be done if you would like to remove the tarnish from the brass. Be sure to place newspaper on your cleaning surface as these chemicals are quite strong. Apply the chemicals carefully and ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly after you have finished stripping off the varnish.
Polish your brass using an acceptable brass polish. Use a soft rag to apply the polish. Let it sit on the brass for a few minutes. Use another dry, clean rag to remove the polish and buff the brass giving it a spectacular sheen.
Apply a lacquer. Once the brass is polished you should put on this protective layer which will help to maintain the polished look much longer. You can apply this with a paintbrush or cotton balls. Use a very thin layer and ensure you apply it evenly for best results. Allow the lacquer to dry on the brass before you touch it.
Wipe the brass once more with a soft, dry cloth to increase sheen. Dust it regularly so that dirt will not build up on it too quickly, thereby, necessitating too frequent cleaning and polishing.