Vintage brass items are one of my all time favorite styling/collecting items. But often they’re really vintage, covered in tarnish, and not as pretty as they used to be. Luckily, most of that tarnish and age can be safely (and gently) removed with a little scrubbing and two ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. And just like that your brass can be looking almost as good as new. Almost.
What you’ll need: 1/2 of a lemon (unless you’re cleaning something HUGE), a small bowl, a spoon for mixing, and baking soda (we ended up using about 4 tablespoons). And of course, your brass object.
First make sure your object is real brass, otherwise you might actually end up tarnishing the material further, rather than polishing. The easiest way to tell if something is real brass versus brass colored is to take a magnet to it’s surface and see if it sticks, since a magnet won’t stick to real brass. Once you’ve determined you’re working with real, honest brass it’s time to get scrubbing.
Step 1: Juice your lemon half into your mixing bowl, spooning out the seeds if they pop out. We wouldn’t recommend using lemon juice from concentrate (you know, the juice you can buy in the lemon shaped bottle) only because we’re not sure how any added ingredients or preservatives might interact with the baking soda or brass surface.
Step 2: Start adding in baking soda, a table spoon at a time, and mixing until a paste forms. You’re going for a “toothpaste” like consistency. We ended up using about 4 tablespoons in all, but it will vary depending on the juiciness of your lemon.
Step 3 & 4: Apply a small spoonful to a soft cloth and begin rubbing your brass object with the cloth and paste. Don’t be afraid to really scrub some of those tough tarnish spots, or use your fingers for tiny detailed areas.
Step 5: Rinse the paste off your brass object with warm water, and immediately dry with a soft towel.
That’s it. Two ingredients is all it takes to safely and gently clean all your favorite brass items. No dangerous chemicals, gloves, or face masks needed. We even made a quick “how to” video to show you just how easy it really is:
And just in case you don’t have any of your own brass items (yet), we’ve rounded up a few vintage brass objects we love from around the internet (including our very own Flea). They’re each one of a kind so grab ’em while you can. Your shelves, coffee tables, and desks will thank you.
1. Brass Planter | 2. Brass Bolt Paper Weight | 3. Brass Letter Holder | 4. Brass Bamboo Tray | 5. Brass Ash Tray | 6. Brass Tennis Racket Memo Holder | 7. Brass Pineapple Ice Bucket | 8. Solid Brass Ruler