How to Clean Brass With Vinegar in a Few Simple Steps

Updated: Feb. 23, 2023

You don't need to buy a specific cleaner for brass items in your home. Opt for a natural, easy method with a few common pantry items.

Brass home items look lovely when shiny and clean, but after a while, they get a dull, tarnished appearance that’s less than desirable. Besides your brass doorknobs, there are likely other brass items in your home that need some attention. Brass is a common material for candlesticks, doorknockers, cabinet hardware like drawer pulls and handles, door kick plates, decorative pots, antique accent tables, fireplace andirons, chandeliers, mirror frames and even some modern light fixtures.

Brass tarnishes because it’s an alloy of copper and zinc, metals that will naturally tarnish when exposed to oxygen. In addition to oxygen, the oils in your skin can speed up the tarnishing process. That’s why you’ll need to tend to your brass home items every now and then to keep them shiny and beautiful.

So how do you clean brass? There are a few ways to go about it, and most of them are easy to do at home.

How to Clean Brass with Vinegar

On Feb. 4, the BBC posted an easy hack for brass that requires items you already have at home. The mixture only calls for three ingredients: white vinegar, baking soda (AKA sodium bicarbonate) and salt.

@bbc Clean brass with this easy hack using products you’ve got in your kitchen cupboards #SortYourLifeOut #StaceySolomon #iPlayer ♬ original sound – BBC

To make the mixture, add a bit of salt and a splash of white vinegar to a container. Next, pour some baking soda into the liquid. The solution should start to fizz.

Once you’ve got the solution ready, take your brass items and submerge them in the cleaning solution. Let them soak for about 10 minutes. After they’ve soaked, rub the brass fixtures around the bottom of the container where the salt is. The salt works to scrub off the tarnish.

While vinegar is a wonderful natural cleaning solution, be aware that there are some things you should never clean with vinegar, such as hardwood floors.

Other Ways to Clean Brass

If you are fresh out of vinegar, you can try alternative home recipes to clean tarnished brass. Some of these include:

  • Per Treehugger, ketchup and other tomato products like tomato paste work wonders. Take a clean cloth and squirt some ketchup on it. Rub it over your tarnished brass. Once done, wipe your item clean with a damp cloth and dry it.
  • If your brass looks dirty but isn’t tarnished, you can use good old-fashioned soap, water and a cloth to restore its shine.
  • If you don’t have baking soda but do have white vinegar, heat a pint of water and add two tablespoons of white vinegar and two tablespoons of salt. Use the mixture to scrub your brass.
  • The acidity in lemon can work in conjunction with a salt scrub, too. Put some salt on a cut lemon and buff it over your brass.

If you’re interested in finding out more about natural cleaning methods, check these vinegar cleaning hacks that’ll save you money.