How to Clean Antique Brass With Household Products

Clean and polish brass without removing the entire patina that took decades to form.

antique brass mail slot

It’s easy enough to clean antique brass with a brass polish like Brasso, but sometimes you don’t want to remove the entire patina. Or maybe you want to polish up some old brass knobs on the fly and need to improvise with items you already have in your house.

The following brass cleaning method is ideal for older brass items because it is gentle yet effective. Since you won’t remove a ton of patina at a time, you can customize the finish and not get rid of that aged look entirely. Here’s what you need to do.

Baking Soda Method

Use inexpensive pantry items to create an all-natural brass polish.

how to clean antique brass with household items




Total Cost:



– Microfiber cloth
– Fine steel wool (optional)


– Baking soda
– White vinegar
– Table salt


Mix ingredients together to create a paste.

Mix 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Let the mixture fizz for a few seconds. Once the fix dissipates, use a spoon to mix into a paste. Add more vinegar as needed to create a paste-like consistency.

Apply the mixture and buff the brass item.

Cover the brass with the paste and let the solution for at least ten minutes. Use a microfiber cloth to buff the paste into the item. The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive and the vinegar works to remove the tarnish. Just make sure you don’t leave the mixture on for more than thirty minutes because an overextended exposure to vinegar can have the opposite effect and cause further tarnishing.

Use steel wool for additional tarnish removal.

Once clean antique brass and remove all the polish, examine how much tarnish was removed. If you want to buff off even more tarnish, use an extra fine piece of steel wool (#0000) to buff the item further. Focus on high relief areas and leave more tarnish in inset areas to keep that aged antique look. Be careful not to buff too hard, or you could risk scratching the finish. Also, be sure that the steel wool is extra fine because other types would be too abrasive for this purpose.

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