How to Dull Brass Pulls

Written by louise lawson
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How to Dull Brass Pulls
An antique brass pull (brass handle image by hazel proudlove from

The soft, antique look of dull brass is a popular fitting in many households. Dull brass handles and pulls complement a variety of decors and finishes, although it can take years of normal wear to achieve that dull brass finish. Fortunately, you can speed up the dulling process in brass pulls with just a few tools and a little time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Dish detergent
  • Soft rag
  • Small plastic tub with lid
  • Ammonia
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Pennies

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  1. 1

    Remove the pulls from your drawers. Unscrew them gently, setting the pull and hardware to the side to prevent misplacing any small pieces.

  2. 2

    Wash your brass pulls to remove any dirt or grime from the surface. Fill your sink with warm water and a few drops of dish detergent, place the pulls inside and scrub them with a soft rag. Rinse the pulls and dry them with a clean cloth to remove any traces of water.

  3. 3

    Fill your small plastic tub ¾ full with common household ammonia. Wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.

  4. 4

    Lay a handful of pennies in the bottom of your tub, taking care to spread them around the tub. The pennies need to be evenly distributed around the tub, but leave enough space between pennies for your brass pulls. The copper in the pennies will combine with the ammonia to create a chemical reaction that will dull your brass pulls quickly. The pennies will turn a dark green or blue due to the chemical reaction, so make sure they are pennies you can discard after use.

  5. 5

    Place your brass pulls inside the tub, taking care not to set them on top of any pennies. Place the lid on the tub and allow the pulls to soak in the ammonia overnight. This will produce a dark, greenish tint on your pulls that will give them an antique look with very little effort.

  6. 6

    Slip your gloves on and uncover the tub, checking to see if your brass pulls have reached the colour you desire. If they are dark enough, remove them from the ammonia bath and rinse them under warm running water. Set them on a towel to dry before reattaching them to your drawers. If they are not dark enough, leave them for a few more hours to further darken them.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure you use thick rubber gloves, such as those designed for heavy duty cleaning. Ammonia can cause severe burns and blistering if it comes in contact with your skin.
  • Never use an ammonia bath in a room with poor ventilation. The fumes can cause you to become very ill if used in an enclosed space. A room with large, open windows works well, or you can complete this process outdoors if the weather is nice.

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