How to Clean Brass with Vinegar and Other Products Found in Your Home

All copper alloys develop a crust made of oxide and carbonate, called patina, when exposed to the air. Brass is no exception. After all, brass sheets, tubes, and bars contain about 67 percent copper, which is the primary reactant during patina formation. Fortunately, brass develops patina more slowly than copper and its other alloys, making it easier to polish.

Brass comes in over 60 different types, most of which are lustrous. You’ll know patina is already forming when brass starts losing its sheen. Then, it will turn duller and darker until the patina becomes apparent. The good news is that patina is only superficial and can diminish when scrubbed off with metal polish.

What’s in metal polish?

You may be wondering what substances there are in the metal polish that allow it to dissolve tarnish or patina. As it turns out, there’s more than a handful. The quality of commercial metal polish products may vary from brand to brand, but they all have the same mixture. These are the substances they have in common.

• Ammonia
• Silica
• Thiourea
• Denatured Alcohol
• Acids
• Petroleum Distillates and Naphtha

All of these substances are corrosive. When combined, they become the ultimate tarnish remover. But commercial metal polish is not the only product that can clean brass. Familiar products like vinegar are also excellent at cleaning metal.

What makes vinegar an excellent metal polish?

Many people use vinegar for cleaning home furniture and fixtures. They use it to disinfect wooden cupboards or give their metal frames and trims extra shine. But what makes cleaning brass with vinegar possible? Why do tough stains come off faster when soaked in vinegar than when washed with bleach? The answer lies in its chemical composition.

Vinegar is produced through fermentation. In this process, bacteria break down sugar into alcohol, the same method used for making wine. But that’s just the first level of fermentation. There’s another level in which alcohol is further catalyzed into acetic acid, the chemical that makes up vinegar. The main reason vinegar is an effective cleaning agent is that it’s an acid. And like other acids, it can corrode a wide array of substances, including patina on brass.

Things to Remember before You Clean Brass with Vinegar

While vinegar may not seem that harsh, as proven by how mild it feels when applied on the skin, don’t underestimate its ability to corrode substances on metals. It’s important to note that there are several ways to ferment organic extracts. Meaning, vinegar may also come in different types. Some are more potent than others.

Before you start rubbing your brass item with vinegar, find out how it was produced. The ideal vinegar for cleaning is the one that’s made in a lab—acetic acid mixed with water. Also known as white vinegar, this type is more potent than those produced from fruit extracts. If the vinegar seems too strong for your brass item, dilute it in water. If that doesn’t work, then consider going for a mild type like cider vinegar.

Keep in mind that vinegar dissolves not just the patina or stains on your brass surface. You may not notice it, but it can dissolve brass itself, depending on its potency. So, when you polish brass with vinegar, be careful not to scrub or buff too hard. You don’t want to damage the surface of your brass item, especially if it’s just a cladding to a different material.

How to Clean Brass with Vinegar

You can choose to clean your brass items with vinegar alone. But you can also mix it with other household products. It has been proven many times that homemade metal polish is relatively as effective as its commercial counterparts. The only difference is you will have to put some effort into making the metal polish. Here’s how to make homemade metal polish with vinegar and how to use it.

1. Prepare your vinegar and equal parts of salt and flour. You can also use corn starch or baking soda if you don’t have flour. Mix these three ingredients to form a paste. If you don’t have vinegar, pure lemon juice is a good alternative.

2. Clean your brass item thoroughly. Wash it with soap and water to remove oils and dirt that might get in the way of your homemade metal polish.

3. Make sure the surface of your brass item is parched. Moisture can reduce your metal polish’s effect.

4. When you’re ready, apply the paste on the surface of your brass item and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes. That should be long enough for the vinegar to break down the tarnish on your item and for the salt and flour to extricate it.

5. Wipe away as much paste from the surface of your brass item as possible using a clean cloth. Then, start buffing until the metal’s untarnished surface reemerges.

Restoring your brass furniture or fixture shouldn’t be a stressful task. If you know how to make homemade metal polish, you’ll find cleaning brass with vinegar fun and productive. There’s nothing more fulfilling than to see your antique possessions come to life again.

In case you are looking to make furniture, and you want its luster to last for a long time, find trusted brass suppliers like Rotax Metals. They provide high-quality copper materials and they supply to large enterprises across North America.

How Do You Make Homemade Brass Cleaner and How Do You Use It?

There are more brass items in your home than you probably think. The knobs and hinges on your door, the metal frame under your bed and lounge tables, your curtain rods, and some of your furniture pieces–they are most likely made of brass. While this metal is undoubtedly beautiful, it has its fair share of undesirable qualities, the most apparent of which is its susceptibility to tarnishing.

Like any other copper alloy, brass tarnishes when exposed to the air for a prolonged period. The oxygen in the air combines with the copper in brass to form copper oxide, a substance that gradually thickens and conceals the brass item’s shiny surface. As a result, the object loses its brilliance. Many describe brass as gold-like because some of its types have the same color and sheen as gold. The only difference is that brass loses its luster over time, while gold doesn’t.

The good news is there are easy ways to bring your brass items back to their glittery state. Like most other non-ferrous metals, you can polish brass using standard metal polish, and you don’t have to go far to obtain one. You can prepare your solution using products available in your home. Here’s how to formulate your homemade brass cleaner and polish:

Salt and Lemon Mixture

– Salt and lemon extract are both abrasive substances. When combined, they form a substance harsh enough to dislodge the copper oxide buildup from the surface of your brass item. Not only are these materials accessible, but they are also more affordable than commercial polish.


– Did you know that ketchup has a pH of 3.85? That acidity level makes it an excellent metal polish. While it may not be as effective as today’s commercial metal polish, it’s cheaper and exciting to experiment with.

Baking Soda and Lemon Paste

– Replace the salt in the first formulation with baking soda. You probably use baking soda to clean your kitchen countertop, fridge, or stove, and it works all the time. That’s because baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a substance that can neutralize both acids and bases. Mixed with lemon, you can create the ultimate brass polish.

Vinegar, Flour, and Salt

– We all know that vinegar is acidic. Salt is quite harsh, too. If you want to make a paste, so your polish sticks on the surface of your brass item and does not evaporate when you let it sit for an hour, add flour.

Tomato Sauce and Paste Mixture

– With the same ingredients as those of ketchup, you can expect the same effect on brass when you apply a tomato sauce and paste solution. You’ll find it even more efficient since tomato paste is more concentrated than ketchup.

How to Clean Brass

Now that you already have a homemade brass cleaner, all you need to do is to follow this easy-to-do brass cleaning procedure:

Prepare all the brass items that need cleaning. The last thing you want is to throw away your homemade metal polish before realizing that there are more items to clean.

Separate the pure brass items from the brass-clad ones. The latter most likely have a thin layer of brass on its surface, and buffing too hard could peel it off. Separating them allows you to apply the right pressure on each item.

Wash your brass items with soap and water to remove all dirt and grease. Brass cleaners don’t adhere to oily surfaces. Also, if there are dust particles left, they might scratch the surface of your brass items as you scrub with the cloth.

After carefully rinsing the brass items with clean water, dry them thoroughly. You don’t want to apply the brass cleaner on your brass items’ wet surface. Moisture will reduce its effectiveness.

Once your items are ready, apply the cleaner on all surfaces and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

Get a clean cloth and buff your brass items until it becomes shiny again. Don’t leave any section unpolished to achieve the best result.

Where to Buy Brass Supplies

You probably noticed that some of the brass items you have tarnish faster than others. This variation has to do with quality. How the brass that makes up those items were manufactured can affect its tarnish resistance.

When thinking of buying brass furniture or fixture, take your search up a notch and be meticulous about where the raw materials used to make the item came from. If they came from a reputable supplier like Rotax Metals, you could be sure that your furniture or fixture not only makes a perfect addition to your home but last long as well.

Check how many years the supplier has been in operation. If possible, take a peek into their brass sales and find out what supplies most customers buy. That way, you’ll have an idea how much they know about copper alloys like brass and what advanced methods and equipment they use. You’ll never go wrong with a manufacturer that has at least half a century of professional experience in metal processing and distribution.

brass furniture

The Best Way to Clean Tarnished Metal and Other Essential Facts You Shouldn’t Ignore

Metals are the most rigid materials on the planet. They provide a framework for buildings and make up heavy industrial machines. Many of your home and office equipment consist of metals, too. But like everything else, they have their kryptonite. They corrode when exposed to the atmosphere, certain chemicals, or other metals.

It’s important to note that metals corrode in different ways. They differ in how they react with the substances that they come in contact with. Oxygen is by far the most common catalyst for corrosion. It affects most metals both in liquid and gas form, which is why corrosion is sometimes referred to as oxidation.

Tarnish vs. Rust

As mentioned, metals differently corrode when exposed to the same element or compound. We can classify metals into two types—ferrous (iron-containing) and nonferrous (non-iron-containing). The presence or absence of iron in a metal’s composition significantly affects its corrosion.

Ferrous metals corrode by transforming into iron oxide or rust, while nonferrous metals corrode by developing a layer of oxide on its surface. This layer of oxide is also called tarnish.

Unlike rust, tarnish stays on the surface of nonferrous metals. It doesn’t spread into the metal and wreck the metal’s properties. Instead, it continues to grow on the surface as it gets further exposed to the atmosphere. In other words, unlike rust, you can scrape or polish away the layer of developed tarnish on the surface of a nonferrous metal without diminishing its quality.

Everyday Metals That Tarnish

Before I teach you the best way to clean tarnished metal, let’s first identify some nonferrous metals around us. Let’s get the popular and rare ones—gold, silver, and platinum—out of the way and focus on the more common.

Copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, zinc, and tin are the most common among all the nonferrous metals. Not only are these metals abundant in supply, but they also display qualities that are valuable to a vast range of applications. Big industries, such as construction, telecommunication, electronics, and transportation, rely on their production.

Tarnish isn’t that much of a big industry problem because the metals are often used for their mechanical properties. But for industries that rely on the metals’ appearance, such as jewelry and furniture making, it can be rather pesky. Maintaining the lustrous appearance of these metals takes effort.

Some metals tarnish faster than others. For instance, copper can lose its sheen just a few hours after exposure to air or water. The same goes true for its primary alloys—bronze and brass. If neglected, the tarnish can grow and change copper’s color. This new layer of material that has a different color is generally referred to as patina.

Patina changes color as it develops. You can tell how long copper has been exposed by the color of its patina. However, various factors may affect how the process ends. Depending on what chemical copper is exposed to, it may form a brown, blue, or green patina.

How to Clean Tarnished Metal

Tarnishing is inevitable for metals like copper, brass, and bronze. The good news is you can fix it. As explained earlier, tarnish is just on the metal’s surface so that you can wipe it away. But it doesn’t come off quickly like typical dust or grime. You may need to apply a polishing agent. Here’s a simple procedure for removing tarnish from metal you can follow.

    1. Check if the item you will be polishing is pure copper, brass, or bronze. Some furniture pieces only have one of these metals on their surface and underneath them is an entirely different material. This will give you an idea of the safest technique for cleaning tarnished metal. The last thing you want is to buff away the outermost layer along with the tarnish and reveal the underlying metal.
    2. Decide whether to use commercial polish or a homemade one. The material and tools you need for the process will depend on your decision.
    3. Prepare the things you need. If you are using a commercial polish, all you need is a clean cloth, and the polish. But if you are using homemade metal polish, there’s a handful of ingredients you need to prepare.It’s important to note that you can combine many products in your home to make a concoction that works on tarnish. In this procedure, we will focus on the most common ones – vinegar, flour, salt, lemon juice, baking soda, and ketchup. You won’t be mixing all of them, but you can make different polishing agents by creating different combinations.For instance, you can mix vinegar, flour, and salt to produce a metal polish paste. Or you can mix lemon juice and baking soda. Ketchup, on the other hand, may serve as a metal polish without mixing with anything.

      You also need to prepare a clean, dry cloth.

    4. When you finish preparing your concoction, it’s time to prepare your metal item. Wash it thoroughly until its surface is free of dust or grime. Tiny dust particles have sharp edges that can scratch your metal as you rub it with the cloth.
    5. Apply the metal polish you prepared on the metal item’s surface and let it sit for several minutes.
    6. Buff the surface of the metal piece with the clean cloth until the metal’s original sheen appears. Remember not to wet the fabric with water because water, containing oxygen, is among the substances that can trigger tarnishing.

Sometimes, the metal’s quality affects the rate by which tarnish forms. For instance, low-quality or unrefined brass or bronze may tarnish faster because it may contain other elements that are more reactive to oxygen than the primary metal. If you are working with a non-ferrous metal, such as copper, brass, or bronze, make sure to obtain your supply from trusted sheet metal suppliers, like Rotax Metals. This way, you can create outputs that can maintain their quality longer and require minimal maintenance.

1 2 3 31

Product categories