Homemade brass cleaner is a lot less expensive than store-bought versions, plus it works just as well.
Brass is made from a combination of copper and zinc. The resilient material is typically covered with a coat of lacquer to prevent tarnishing. However, many antique brass pieces have never been treated for oxidization. Consequently, these "raw" brass pieces tend to tarnish very quickly when exposed to air.
Most homeowners don't have to worry about cleaning raw brass pieces. Rather, they are more concerned with brightening their brass covered items, such as door knockers, cabinet handles, locks and hearth and fire sets. Generally, brass owners use commercial cleaners, such as Brasso and Twinkle to disinfect and return the bronze alloy to its original shine. However, regular maintenance of brass pieces can add up, especially if you purchase expensive cleaners. Fortunately, there are ways to clean brass without breaking the bank.
Recipes for Homemade Brass Cleaner
There are two types of brass cleaners that can be made at home. The first is designed for lacquered brass and the other for raw brass. Fortunately, both call for every day items that can be found around the house.
The following recipes for homemade brass cleaner illustrates that you don't need a ton of money or skill to keep your brass items looking good.
Cleaner for Lacquered Brass
Dirt and grime can be removed from brass by soaking a soft cloth in a mixture of vinegar and salt. Gently rub the mixture on the brass pieces until the gunk begins to loosen and wipe off. If you are trying to clean large brass items, then fill a bucket with equal parts vinegar and salt and place the soiled piece inside to soak for about an hour. The solution should loosen the dirt, so you can easily clean the rest of the piece with a rag or soft bristle brush. Just make sure you don't aggressively scrub the brass piece, as you don't want to compromise its original color.To remove heavy tarnish or stubborn stains on lacquered brass, wash the item in hot, soapy water or an extremely diluted solution of ammonia and water. Once the dirt is removed, rinse the brass item in clean water and dry with a soft cloth.
Cleaner for Raw Brass
Cleaning raw bass requires a bit of extra care. You don't want to create an unhealthy reaction between the cleaner and the raw metal, so take caution when experimenting with homemade cleaners.The safest way to clean untreated brass items is to use rubbing alcohol. Soak a sponge in standard isopropyl alcohol and lightly scrub away any dirt, grime or other stains that may be covering your brass item.
If the piece has stubborn stains, then dampen a soft cloth with water and then add a dab of Polident Denture Cream. Work the paste into the cloth, and then use it to gently scrub the soiled brass item. Once the dirt is removed, wipe the surface with a clean, soft, damp cloth.
Finally, non-lacquered brass can also be cleaned with a little ketchup. Squeeze a nickel-sized amount of the popular condiment on a rag and rub over the surface of the brass piece. Then, wipe off the residue with a damp, soft cloth or chamois.
If you are tired of dealing with raw brass items you can lacquer them at home. However, before you do, you must remove dirt, grime and gunk that may have collected on the surface. Spray lacquer works well, though it should be applied evenly in thin coats. Once the brass is lacquered, you can maintain its shine by rubbing it with a little olive oil. If you choose not to lacquer raw brass, but want to keep it shiny and clean, then wipe it with a little liquid ammonia once a week.