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How to clean brass & copper

Cleaning brass & copper is easy when you know how! Read on for tips about cleaning brass & copper items in your home.


how to clean brass and copper

You might have several different brass or copper items in your house – everything from pots to ornaments, jewellery to belt buckles, and coins to candlesticks. How do you clean and polish these metal items?

As an alternative to the homemade cleaners below, specialised copper or brass cleaners can be very effective – just read the labels on these products to find the best one for you.  Bear in mind that you should be careful when cleaning any valuable or antique goods – you may feel more comfortable asking the advice of an expert in this situation.

Regardless of the value of your belonging or the kind of product you’re using to clean, it’s always best to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to be safe. This handy guide on how to clean brass, copper, and pewter provides plenty of cleaning options, so you should be able to find a solution to suit your time and budget.

If you suspect your belonging may be brass-plated, rather than brass, it’s well worth checking before you attempt to clean it, as abrasive cleaners can damage plating. One test is to take a magnet and see if it is attracted to your item. If so, it is likely to be plated. Stick to a mild detergent and water to clean brass-plated items safely.

How to Clean Brass

Brass is an alloy made of copper and zinc used to make many different items – everything from doorknobs to musical instruments!

Here are some strategies for cleaning brass items:

  • First, try washing the brass item with dishwashing liquid and warm water. Do not scrub too hard – you may scratch the brass.

  • Brass will also respond well to tomato sauce! Apply tomato sauce and then rinse after leaving it for at least an hour – you will be able to see the difference.

  • You can also use lemons and salt to clean brass items. Simply apply some salt (preferably sea salt or coarse salt) to a half of a lemon, and then use the lemon to gently scrub the brass surface. While your fingers might get a bit sticky from the lemon juice, your brass will soon be shiny!  Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth afterwards.

  • Again, scrub gently, and avoid abrasive products when cleaning brass items, as you might damage the surface.

How to Clean Copper

Copper products are durable and look luxurious, and copper is used not only for domestic but also decorative purposes. Copper cookware has a good thermal conductivity, which allows you to heat food quickly and efficiently, and copper jewellery looks elegant.

However, copper tarnishes over time. Don’t worry, though – you can return copper products to their original shine at home! Here are some of the best ways to clean copper:

  • There are commercial copper cleaning products available in shops – if you are using one of these, just be sure to follow the directions and safety guidelines on the label.

  • You can also clean copper using the lemon and salt method described above.

  • To make the product shine, rub it with a mixture of flour, coarse salt and vinegar, then polish with a soft cloth.

  • It is possible to polish copper with a newspaper crumpled into a small ball – just rub it over the surface in a circular motion to buff your copper up to a nice shine.

  • As with brass, you can clean copper with tomato sauce! The vinegar in the tomato sauce helps to brighten up metal. Apply a thick layer of tomato sauce and let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse with water.

cleaning brass and copper

Originally published