Over time, brass loses its shiny finish, looks dull, and becomes tarnished. If you have brass door knobs or brass light fixtures, you probably know how unsightly dull and tarnished brass is. Dullness and tarnish can greatly affect the overall look of the entire piece to which brass is attached. So what to do? Simple. Protect your brass from oxidation and corrosion. Here is how to do that.
- Disassemble the piece. The very first thing you need to do is to detach the brass from the body to which it is attached. Make sure to unscrew the parts and carefully remove the brass. Set aside the other parts, including the screws.
- Peel off the lacquer. Remove the lacquer from your brass piece using a lacquer stripper. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the lacquer stripper. Usually, the lacquer stripper can remove the lacquer after a few minutes. But if the lacquer remains in the brass, use fine steel wool to strip it off. Remember to use lacquer stripper only in ventilated areas and always exercise caution.
- Eliminate tarnish. Using a non-abrasive brass cleaner and fine steel wool, carefully remove tarnish from the brass. Be patient, as this can be pretty hard and will take some time, especially if your brass is heavily tarnished. When done, the brass should be shiny. If, however, the tarnish is deep-seated, the brass will end up having ugly discoloration.
- Buff the brass. Removing tarnish will cause some scratches in the brass, but you can remove them by buffing. Use a buffing cloth and run it along the brass several times. Make sure to buff all parts to further restore the brass’ shiny finish.
- Apply new lacquer. A new lacquer will keep the brass from corrosion and oxidation. Spray the brass with lacquer when the brass is already shiny and looking-new. Do this according to the instructions of the lacquer manufacturer. Ideally, you should cover all the parts with around five coats. If you can’t reach the dented parts, consider using a brush. Make sure not to over-apply lacquer, though. After application, let the lacquer dry for a few minutes. Your brass should look like new again when completely dry.
- Use alternative products. Remember that brass-cleaning products have chemicals that may be harmful to health. So if you want to protect your health as you protect the brass, consider going green. For example, to remove cracked lacquer from the brass, you can use a baking soda mixture. In a pot of water, combine equal parts of baking soda and dish soap. Bring the mixture to a boil and put the brass in the pot. Leave it there for up to five minutes. Let it cool. Then begin to peel off the lacquer. To clean the brass, simply use a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Apply the mixture to the brass and rub it with a soft cloth. Dry it and apply olive oil to the brass after.
Whether you go for chemical products or go green, make sure to wear gloves whenever cleaning and polishing the brass. The gloves will keep your body oils from touching the brass. In the same way, they will keep your hands protected from the chemicals in the cleaning products.