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How to Clean Antique Brass

The first step in restoring brass is a good cleaning but, though you want to be tough on dirt and grime, you want to go easy on this precious metal.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Determine if brass is lacquered Determine whether your brass is lacquered, and whether to clean over the lacquer or to remove the lacquer and clean the brass beneath it.
  • TIP: If a piece is particularly valuable, consult a specialist or curator before attempting to clean it.
  • Step 2: Start with soapy water Clean unlacquered brass with hot soapy water and a soft cotton cloth, wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands. Dampen the cloth, wipe down your brass, and then dry it immediately with a fresh cloth.
  • Step 3: Boil linseed oil Boil linseed oil and apply to a clean cloth. Wipe the brass again to remove lingering dirt or oils that have built up on the surface, and buff it dry.
  • Step 4: Make a paste Make a paste with equal parts vinegar, salt, and flour if your brass is plagued with stubborn grime. Apply the paste and let it set for an hour or two.
  • Step 5: Remove paste Remove the paste with warm water and then dry your brass with a clean, soft cloth. Repeat paste applications if necessary.
  • Step 6: Maintain Remove tarnish that builds up. Clean and polish your brass regularly. Lacquer the brass.
  • FACT: There are 31 tons of copper in the Statue of Liberty.

You Will Need

  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Linseed oil
  • Vinegar
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Lackquer
  • Specialist or curator (optional)

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