Brass is an alloy (mixture) of two different metals, primarily copper, and is popular among makers of cookware, jewelry, home decorations, and even musical instruments. Sourced from brass sheet metal providers like Rotax Metals, brass materials have a gold-like finish, but tarnish easily.
If you think that polishing your tarnished brass pieces is difficult (and you’re not keen on using harmful, industrial-strength chemicals), fear not. You can use an array of safe, natural cleaners you can easily find around your home. In fact, if you’re in the business of manufacturing and selling brass fixtures, these are the ways you could maintain your products’ shiny appearance.
First, you need to know if what you’re dealing with is really brass. You can employ a simple test to know if the piece in question is real brass or not using magnets. The gist is this: if the piece sticks to the magnet, it’s only made of brass-plated steel. If not, then it is, indeed, brass and you can work on it. Remember though to immediately forget cleaning the piece if it isn’t brass in the first place, because the “tarnish” you see is actually rust. Deciding to push through with cleaning will leave undesirable results.
Once you’ve verified the piece’s authenticity, it’s time to get down to business. Brass is easy enough to clean that you can use only soapy water and that’ll get the job done. It’s as simple as filling up the kitchen sink with enough lukewarm water, mixing it with some gentle liquid dish detergent, immersing the piece into the mixture, and using a lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe the surface clean. If you don’t have microfiber cloth, you can also use a cotton rag and it’ll offer no significant difference.
You can also use a mixture of baking soda, and lemon. To prepare the mixture, squeeze about half a lemon into a small bowl, then mix a teaspoon of baking soda with it. Don’t worry if it fizzes a little, it’s simply a part of the chemical reaction. Once it’s settled down, stir the mixture until you create a pleasant-smelling paste, and then apply it to the brass item with a soft piece of cloth. Just don’t forget to rinse the piece thoroughly after applying the mixture.
You may also use kitchen ingredients such as vinegar, salt, and even Worcestershire sauce. Just boil a mixture of 3 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar, and 1 tbsp. salt. Then apply it the same way as the lemon-baking soda mix, and voila! You now have a shiny brass angle for your figurine or doorknob.
(Source: How to Clean Brass Naturally, Mother Nature Network, March 21, 2012)