The best way to clean old brass

Written by april dowling
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The best way to clean old brass
Exposure to oxygen tarnishes antique brass objects. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Brass's gleaming appearance, corrosion resistance and strength make it a preferred metal for architectural detailing and decorative hardware. Collectors prize antique brass objects for their value. Old brass objects require consistent and proper maintenance to protect them from decay and preserve their naturally ageing appearance. Regularly cleaning brass removes accumulated dust, grime and residue that detract from the antique's aesthetic appeal. Fortunately, you can eliminate surface gunk and restore antique brass objects using simple solutions.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • 1 tsp liquid dish soap
  • 2 plastic bowls
  • 2 microfiber cleaning rag
  • Clean toothbrush
  • 2 terrycloth towels
  • 1/4-cup boiled linseed oil

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  1. 1

    Put on rubber gloves to prevent transferring fingerprint smudges onto the brass object. Combine 1 tsp of liquid dish soap with 1 qt. of very warm water in a plastic bowl.

  2. 2

    Moisten a microfiber cleaning rag in the soapy water. Rub the rag over the entire object, using circular motions, to detach dust and grime. Clean any small crevices and detailing in the object with a clean toothbrush.

  3. 3

    Rinse the brass with fresh warm water. Rub a terrycloth towel over the brass to dry the object.

  4. 4

    Pour 1/4-cup of boiled linseed oil into a second plastic bowl. Using a second microfiber cleaning rag, rub the oil liberally over the object until the brass is completely coated with oil. Let the oil dry on the brass for an hour.

  5. 5

    Buff the object with second terrycloth towel using circular motions. Remove all excess linseed oil from the brass surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Substitute a commercial brass polish for the boiled linseed oil. Apply the polish according to the label's directions.
  • Steel wool and abrasive cleaners can scratch brass objects.

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