Brass Part II: Cleaning Solid Brass Pieces

Brass Part II: Cleaning Solid Brass Pieces

If you read yesterday’s post, then you’ll know that today’s is the follow-up… all about how I tackled the solid brass hardware in round two of its cleaning. Let me tell you, this deeply tarnished brass was tough and testy!

This is where we started in round one…

The shiny brass poking through is the result of Brasso and a lot of elbow grease!

Here’s the teaser photo from yesterday’s post. This is where we ended up after cleaning like crazy with Brasso and steel wool.

You can see some of the tarnish came off and there’s a nice shine in its place. But the dark nasty areas are a semi rusty residue, and the flip side of the hinge is still tainted with a super dark tarnish. The scratchy swirls you see are actually a light coating of Brasso – not scratches from the steel wool!

So Round Two of the cleaning process…

Since I was working with solid brass I decided to soak all the pieces in straight white vinegar (yes, considered an abrasive!). I had planned on a long soak, like for a few hours, but it actually turned into a few days. Eeek! I think that’s a cleaning don’t do!

In the mean time I learned about Bar Keeper’s Friend from my blogging friend, Lisa Goulet of Lisa Goulet Design. I was totally planning on buying this because her results were so awesome, but since my pieces were already soaking, I wanted to see what the vinegar would do.

Here are the lovelies de-griming!

The dark brown ring in the dish is a build up of many years of grime that came off the hinges and the screws. In hind-sight I wouldn’t bother soaking the screws. What we learned is, if you can’t clean them up with soap and water, it’s just easier to buy replacement screws. Which is what we ended up doing.

We soaked these hinges…

And the magnetic catches too (I know, they’re not brass, therefore should not be soaked in vinegar).

This wasn’t really necessary. The magnets were actually fine, but I was on a cleaning roll!

After coming out of the vinegar soak, and with a little rinse, this is basically what was left to deal with.

You can see how the rusty residue has softened up a bit.

And the tarnish on the flip side might now rub clean.

I didn’t use any Brasso this time around. Just hot (yes, hot) water and a soft cloth. I did use steel wool on the tougher spots, and in the grooves of the hinges I used toothpicks to loosen the grime.

This is how the hinges came out.

On the left is a completely cleaned, ready-to-go hinge, and on the right is a hinge waiting for the final scrub… just so you can see the difference.

All of the hardware was originally coated in lacquer, and so it’s all been stripped off through this cleaning process. In fact, the vinegar did a good job of loosening it, and when I rubbed, most of it just peeled away. It looked like a strip of tape, grimy tape! We are not going to apply a new coating of lacquer, so the brass will patina in time. But all of these hinges are on the inside of the cabinet, so we’ll find out in time if this was a good decision or not.

Here’s a final look at all the hardware we cleaned.

We were careful to clean each set of hardware separately and place it back on its bag, just so we don’t get mixed up in the next phase – putting the cabinet back together! You can see the new packages of screws… the loose ones above them are the originals. Now you can see why they’re not being reused!

In the end I didn’t go out and buy Bar Keeper’s Helper, but I still might. Just to see if I can get anymore of the tinge to brighten up. Haven’t decided yet. But Kaleigh, who this cabinet is for and who helped me with the first round of cleaning, says not to bother! Hmmmm.

Household Cleaning Solutions:

As promised in yesterday’s post, I said I would follow up with more on the household cleaning solutions. But rather than rewrite everything, click here to visit Period Features. I went to a lot of different sites, but found Period Features to be very thorough and helpful… even if I sort of overlooked the recommended ‘what not to do’ tips!

What have you learned about cleaning hardware from your own projects? Do you have any tips to share on this whole process?

When the cabinet is fully assembled and ready for Kaleigh’s room there will be a reveal… I promise. But I still have to contend with the tip-up piece that is giving me a hard time!

Related Posts You Might Like To Read

Brass Part I: Are You Cleaning Plated or Solid?

DIY Distress: Repurposing A Cabinet Set-back

Coffee for a Crowd 

Working With What You Have

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