Old Fashioned Ways to Clean Brass
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Earl Proulx received a lot of letters after he ran a tip in his “Plain Talk” column in Yankee Magazine about cleaning a dishwasher with powdered fruit juice mix—some supporting the idea and others opposing it. One letter was from a man in the Navy. He cleaned with powdered juice mix all the time. In fact, he wrote, they didn’t use any fancy brass cleaners aboard his ship. Instead they cleaned all their brass with powdered or canned fruit juice.
You can clean brass by rubbing on Worcestershire sauce or ketchup with a damp cloth.
Another alternative for shining brass is to boil onions in water and and use the cooled water to polish these metals.
To make an inexpensive brass cleaner, mix equal parts salt and flour with enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Rub on vigorously with a damp cloth. Then wash, rinse, and dry thoroughly.
Mix 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 1 pint of water. Heat until warm, then apply as above.
Small brass objects can be cleaned with a little toothpaste (not the gel type). Apply it with a soft, damp cloth or toothbrush, then rinse and dry.
To remove tarnish from brass, dip a lemon slice or rind in a little salt and rub it on the object. Then clean and dry with paper towels.
Add a little ammonia to a soap-and-water solution to clean these metals. Apply with a soft paintbrush or rag, then rinse and wipe dry.
Editor’s Note: Using old-fashioned methods can sometimes dull the brass finish. If this happens, polish with water in which onions have been boiled, or with Worcestershire sauce (a pungent sauce made of soy, vinegar, and garlic) and then rub with olive oil to protect the shine. Always consult an expert when trying to clean valuable pieces.