Any décor or tool made of brass evokes a feeling of old-world grandiose. This includes brass bells. While brass is a durable material, it is prone to oxidization with air exposure, due to its copper and zinc construction. Brass usually tarnishes with a dark or black color. It can also be prone to smudges, fingerprints and improperly applied cleaning products or metal polish.
Cleaning a plain brass surface is usually different from cleaning one that is coated with lacquer finishes. However, cleaning a bell that is solid brass is usually the same as cleaning one made of a brass finish. Here are a few tips in cleaning a brass bell.
- Soap and rinse. Remove any debris or dust with warm, soapy water. Be sure to take care of cracks or crevices on the surface. Dust and debris can easily scratch your brass bell if not removed.
- Use rubbing alcohol. Remove any existing polish with rubbing alcohol. Apply some alcohol on a sponge and wipe across the bell's surface. You can rub the alcohol across the surface, to ensure you pick up any remaining dust. Thoroughly dry the bell after application.
- Use lacquer remover. In case your brass bell is coated with a lacquer finish, you will need to remove this with a lacquer remover. Apply the solution onto a clean rag and carefully expose the brass surface. You can usually remove tarnished finish to expose untarnished brass underneath.
- Polish the bell. Shine and polish the brass surface using a soft, clean rag. Rub this across the surface to bring out the brass's natural shine. You can also apply brass polish to help add to the shine, and to help prevent tarnishing.
- Use olive oil. Rub a little olive oil all over the surface of your bell with a clean piece of cloth. This will also help minimize tarnishing and add to the shine. Be sure to apply olive oil every time you polish the bell for better shine.
- Apply lacquer. With a soft paintbrush, coat the surface of the bell with lacquer, if you intend to seal in the brass's shine. After the lacquer has dried, buff it with a soft, microfiber cloth. This helps reduce any polish residue or smudges. However, if you prefer just the natural brass finish, then you can skip the lacquering step, and just buff your brass bell to a shine.
- Dust your bell regularly. To prevent scratches, dust your brass bell regularly. You can use some ammonia on a soft rag for this purpose. Ammonia helps prevent tarnishing and can help maintain your brass bell's shine. However, never clean brass with hot water. Immersion in hot water will hasten tarnishing and oxidization.
Different metals can be cleaned through different means. Brass is just one of those metals that require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep their surface free of rust and tarnishing. Be sure to use products that are identified as safe for use on brass. Watch out for dust, which can heavily scratch the surface of your bell.