How to clean old hinges

Written by j. taylor ludwig
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Old or antique hinges, doorknobs and other hardware can greatly add to your home's decor, especially if you have an older home or are trying to decorate with a retro theme. Brass hinges become tarnished over the years, almost taking on a greenish tint or sometimes appearing black. Silver hinges, too, can loose their brightness and shine over time, as can other metals. You can bring your door hinges, cabinet hinges and other hinges back to life by cleaning them. All you need is a few supplies.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Flat-blade screwdriver or cold chisel
  • Hammer (optional)
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Scrub sponge or steel wool
  • Paint remover
  • 1-inch paint brush
  • 1-inch putty knife
  • Brass polish, silver polish or metal polish
  • Soft cloth

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    Remove the Hinges and Hinge Pins

  1. 1

    Remove the hinge pin with a screwdriver or a cold chisel. Place the screwdriver or cold chisel under the edge of the head of the hinge pin. Tap on the handle of the screwdriver with your hand. If you can't get it out with your hand, use a hammer. The hinge pin should begin to work its way up through the hinge.

  2. 2

    Pull out the hinge pin with your fingers, and set it aside.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws securing the hinges with a flat-blade screwdriver. Three screws hold it in place on both the outside and inside of the door frame. Hold onto the door as you remove the screws so that it doesn't fall on you.

    Clean the Old Hinges

  1. 1

    Fill the sink with warm water and a few squirts of dishwashing soap.

  2. 2

    Scrub the hinges and the hinge pins vigorously with a scrub sponge or coarse steel wool. Try to remove all dirt, debris and any rust that may be present. If there is a lot of rust, use steel wool. Dry the hinge pins thoroughly with a towel. Be sure to dry the areas in the screw holes as well.

  3. 3

    Remove any paint that is present on the hinges or the hinge pins with a paint remover. Apply the paint remover with a 1-inch paint brush. The paint will bubble up on the hinges and pins. Use a 1-inch putty knife to remove the paint after it bubbles up.

  4. 4

    Rub either brass polish, silver polish or metal polish on the hinges and hinge pins with a soft cloth. The type of polish depends on whether your hinges are brass, silver or another metal. Pour a small amount of polish onto the cloth. Rub and smooth the polish on the hinges and pins. Wait 15 minutes for the polish to cloud up, and then wipe it off with a soft cloth. Polish the remaining hinges and pins in the same manner.

  5. 5

    Replace the hinges and rehang the door.

Tips and warnings

  • To make it easier to remove the hinge pin, Ron Hazelton of House Calls suggests using a belt sander and grinding the tip of the cold chisel to create a sharp edge, rather than a blunt edge, to give you a better grip at the edge of the pin.

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