Myth busters: Does cleaning brass, copper and silver with ketchup actually work?

This article answers how to clean silver at home and other materials, by looking into the rumours about ketchup as a cleaning product.

Updated

can you polish silver with ketchup

Are you looking for a home remedy for cleaning silver or want to know what cleans brass? Ever thought of trying tomato ketchup?

Ketchup is advocated as a homemade brass cleaner as well as being effective on silver and brass. But while we might love it on our chips, not everyone would trust it on their jewellery! To help you navigate this condiment-based cleaning world, we’ve looked at whether you can really use ketchup to clean silver, brass and copper. If you want to learn how to clean silver at home as well as other metals then read on.

Use the acidity in ketchup to eat away at stubborn grease and stains.

A step-by-step guide of cleaning silver, brass and copper with ketchup

Not sure what cleans silver or how cleaning brass with ketchup work? Follow these steps:

  1. Squeeze a small amount of ketchup into a bowl. You want enough to cover the item you’re cleaning.
  2. For small items, submerge them in the bowl of ketchup (think earrings).
  3. For large items, apply the ketchup directly to the surface with an old towel.
  4. Leave for 30 minutes.
  5. Check to see if the item still looks stained or tarnished. Leave for another 20 minutes maximum if needed.
  6. Rinse the item thoroughly with warm water.
  7. Use a soft, old toothbrush to get rid of any remaining ketchup.
  8. Pat the item dry with a clean towel.

What NOT to clean with ketchup

While, as we’ve seen, ketchup can be a handy cleaning material due to its acidic qualities, it isn’t appropriate for everything. Here’s what NOT to clean using ketchup:

  • Anything with a fabric element. This is because of the risk of staining. So for example if you’ve got a sofa with brass furnishings or want to clean brass buttons on a valued old jacket, avoid using ketchup for these. Opt for more conventional cleaning products and if in doubt consult the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines or a professional cleaner. 
  • Likewise, if you’re looking to use ketchup to clean silver, brass or copper door knockers ketchup might not be the best option. Again, that’s because the ketchup could leave marks on the surrounding wood. Go for specially-designed cleaning products for these and again, if in doubt, consult the professionals.

Those are our top tips when it comes to cleaning brass with ketchup and other materials including copper and silver. If it’s the only thing you’ve got to hand you can use ketchup to clean silver and similar metals, but the technique comes with risks so always be careful and do it little by little.

Key steps

To use ketchup to clean brass, copper or silver, follow these key steps:

  1. Chose the items wisely; don’t try ketchup on anything with elements that could stain. 
  2. Do a patch test on a small part of the object before cleaning the rest.
  3. Wipe the ketchup on and then remove with a clean cloth.

Originally published