ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Clean Brass

Updated on March 2, 2011


Whether you want to polish your brass, or add a nice patina to give your brass an antique look, the most important step you must take to make your finished brass look beautiful is to clean your brass.  In this article, you will learn how to properly clean your brass, and how to effectively remove dirt and impurities from your brass to make it look great!

Clean vs. Dirty
Clean vs. Dirty

Should You Even Bother?

Depending on the object you want to finish, sometimes it is better to leave the brass untouched. Often times, antique brass will lose its value if the patina and tarnish is removed, even if it looks beautiful when it is polished. While the brass can still be cleaned, this tarnish should not be removed. Because of the uncertainty that is involved when you clean brass (sometimes, the brass can react unusually and just wiping it with a cloth can destroy it) it might be best to let a professional clean the brass if it is an antique. Although your brass may be oxidized, the patina prevents further tarnish, so keep that in mind. If you are still ready to proceed, even if you want to add your own tarnish to the piece, you must also determine whether your object is really brass. Sometimes, a piece you thought was brass is actually brass plated. You can determine this with a magnet: brass is not magnetic, and a magnet should not stick to brass. If the magnet does stick, and you continue to try to clean the brass, you may end up removing the brass plating and destroying the object altogether. At this point, if you are sure the object is true brass, you can move on to the next steps.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

The first step in cleaning brass is washing it off with a detergent and water.  This is effective in removing dirt and oil from a brass piece.  A personal tip I can give is to soak the brass in hot water that has a scoop full of Oxiclean added to it.  This will help release all dirt and oil from the brass object and get it very clean.  While your pieces are wet, it is also effective to use a nylon bristle brush to brush off stubborn areas, as well as hard to reach places.  Do not scrub the brass, especially around stamped or engraved areas - use a delicate touch to avoid mashing and destroying pieces.  Also, make sure to wear rubber gloves during this stage, as fingerprints on the brass can be as hard to remove as 100 year old dirt.

Remove The Lacquer

The next step in cleaning brass is to remove the lacquer coating on the brass.  Whether the piece is clean, tarnished, or polished with imperfections, this step is critical in adding a finish to your brass objects.  To remove the lacquer, first make sure to handle the piece while wearing rubber gloves.  Next, you can clean the piece with canned aerosol stripper, which works great to remove even the strongest clear coat lacquer finishes.  Make sure to lay the brass on a surface, such as an old rag, that can withstand getting these chemicals all over it.  If you don't want to use stripper, use canned lacquer thinner, and apply several coats with a sponge and paintbrush to remove the coating - another effective method is to simply soak the brass in lacquer thinner overnight to ensure that everything is removed.  Again, make sure to wear protective gloves, which protect your hands, and also protect the brass against getting dirty all over again.

Special Brass Cleaner
Special Brass Cleaner

To Polish or Patina - That is the Question

Regardless of how you want to finish your brass at this point, it is important to take the final step and use a specialized brass cleaner to effectively clean the brass.  After you apply the brass cleaner, you must remove all the residue that it leaves behind by washing it with more lacquer thinner or simple isopropyl alcohol.  At this point, the brass is as clean as it will get, and you can move on to adding a patina, or you can polish and reapply lacquer to the piece to lock in a lasting shine.


Cleaning brass properly is the most important step in adding a great finish to a brass object. This article should have demonstrated the most effective ways to clean brass, and should serve as a reference to getting your brass perfectly clean.

Another option entirely!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)