How to Clean Old Brass Buttons

Written by melynda sorrels
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How to Clean Old Brass Buttons
It takes little more than a few household items to clean up brass buttons. (assortment of buttons image by Pix by Marti from

Whether you're a button collector or a fan of all things brass, old brass buttons need to be cleaned periodically to keep them presentable. Oils from our fingertips while handling the buttons mix with dust particles in the air can make these buttons dirty. It takes little more than a few household items to clean these buttons and restore them to their once shiny state.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Small container
  • Mild dish soap
  • Clean cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Clean dry towel
  • Flour
  • Table salt
  • White vinegar

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  1. 1

    Fill a container with warm water.

  2. 2

    Add enough of a mild dish soap to make the water sudsy.

  3. 3

    Place the buttons into the water and allow them to soak for two or three minutes.

  4. 4

    Wash the buttons in the soapy water with a clean cloth. Use a toothbrush to help clean dirt out of hard to reach areas.

  5. 5

    Rinse the buttons under warm running water.

  6. 6

    Dry each button with a clean dry towel.

  7. 7

    Mix a paste of 1 tbsp each of white vinegar, table salt and flour.

  8. 8

    Coat each button with the paste using a clean dry cloth.

  9. 9

    Set the buttons aside and allow the paste to stay on them for at least five minutes.

  10. 10

    Wash the paste away with warm soapy water and a clean cloth or sponge.

  11. 11

    Rinse away any loose debris from the buttons under warm running water.

  12. 12

    Dry the buttons with a clean dry cloth and buff to restore the shine.

Tips and warnings

  • If you would rather leave the tarnish on the buttons, stop after you wash and dry them and don't make and apply the paste.
  • If you opt to use a commercial brass polish such as Brasso, read and follow the manufacturers' instructions for use closely.

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