Brass is a golden-yellow colored alloy of copper and zinc, which has been used by mankind for thousands of years. The proportion of zinc and copper can be varied to produce different types of brass for various uses. It is mainly popular for its strength, the striking golden color, as well as its resistance to corrosion.
It is widely used in manufacturing musical instruments, coins, bolts, doorknobs, bearings, gears, locks, zippers, and electrical appliances. But brass can get easily oxidized when exposed to air, which can tarnish its surface. To protect brass from tarnishing, it is usually lacquered. Lacquer can prevent brass from tarnishing for several years. But still, brass products do tarnish over a period of time due to the accumulation of dirt, dust, and grease on their surface.
Cleaning Brass the Right Way
Before cleaning a brass item, it is important to find out whether it is actually made of brass, as many products that look like brass are actually made of some other metals with a brass plating over them. Brass plating adds shine and luster to a metal surface. However, it is not difficult to detect brass, as all you need to do is place a magnet on the surface of the object. Brass does not attract magnets. So, if the magnet sticks to that particular object, then it is more likely to be brass-plated metal and not true brass.
If the particular object is brass, then you can start cleaning it by following a simple procedure. For this, you will require a gentle dishwashing soap or detergent, a toothbrush, a piece of cloth or rag (preferably cotton), and slightly warm or lukewarm water. Pour some detergent into the water to make a soapy solution. Now, take a soft cotton rag, dip it the soapy water, and wipe the brass object gently. This would clean the surface without damaging the lacquer. But if the object is not lacquered, you can partially immerse it in the soapy solution for a few minutes. Then use the cotton rag to rub it. For cleaning the cracks and crevices, you can use a toothbrush.
Homemade Brass Cleaners
Apart from using a soapy solution, you can make some homemade brass cleaners by using some readily available products. For example, you can made a homemade brass cleaner by using vinegar and salt. Just pour some vinegar on the brass item, and sprinkle some salt on it. Now, use a soft cloth to wipe it thoroughly. Vinegar can also be applied alone to clean brass objects. Just dip a cloth in vinegar and wipe the object with it.
You can also make a paste of lemon and baking soda. Take some lemon juice in a bowl and add baking soda to it to make a fine paste. Apply this paste on the brass item and rub it gently with a soft cotton cloth. It would gently remove the tarnish without damaging the surface. After cleaning, rinse it properly with water, and use a cotton cloth to wipe and dry it completely. Otherwise, the brass item would retain water spots on its surface.
You can also use ketchup to clean brass items. Just cover the dirty brass item with some ketchup, and leave it for a few minutes before washing it off with water. Do not forget to wipe the object completely with a clean soft cotton cloth. Milk contains lactic acid, which can also clean brass. Mix equal parts of milk and water, and immerse the brass item in it. Now, boil the solution slowly at a low flame for a few minutes. Make sure to rinse it properly, otherwise it would smell like milk. Similarly, yogurt can also be used as a brass cleaner. For this, you have to apply a coat of yogurt on the surface of the object and let it dry completely. Then remove the yogurt with the help of a cotton cloth, and rinse the object with clean water.
These simple tips can help you retain the shine and luster of your brass objects for many years. Along with cleaning, it is equally important to protect the brass objects from dirt, dust, and grease. For this, you have to polish them and apply a lacquer coating on their surface. For polishing brass, you need to remove the old lacquer from its surface. Then use a clean cloth to apply some brass polish on the surface, after which buff it with another piece of clean and dry cloth. Now, apply a thin layer of lacquer on its surface. In place of lacquer, many people prefer to use something natural like olive oil or lemon oil for this purpose. Whether you decide to use lacquer or natural oils, be sure to dust the brass items regularly to protect them from dirt and grease.