Easy Homemade Brass Cleaner Recipes

Updated May 12, 2020
brass knocker

A homemade cleaner is a lot less expensive than store-bought versions, and it works just as well. Learn how to make homemade brass cleaners to clean your non-lacquered and lacquered brass.

Determining If Metal Is Brass

Just because something looks brass doesn't mean it is. To make sure your item is brass and not just brass-plated, grab a refrigerator magnet. A magnet doesn't stick to brass. So, if the magnet is firmly attached or attracted to your cabinet handle, it's only plated or some other metal. However, if it doesn't stick, find out how to get it perfectly clean using ingredients in your pantry.

Homemade Brass Cleaners for Non-Lacquered Brass

Naked brass doesn't have a protective coating on it. Therefore, it can tarnish more easily. To clean raw brass grab:

  • Salt
  • White vinegar
  • Flour
  • Lemon
  • Baking soda
  • Ammonia
  • Cloth
  • Tub to soak the brass in, if possible
man polishing the copper detail

Salt, Vinegar, and Flour

White vinegar is an acidic cleaner. The acid content makes it great for breaking down and removing tarnish.

  1. Mix ½ cup of vinegar with 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. Allow the salt to dissolve.
  3. Add enough flour to make a paste.
  4. Use the cloth to rub the paste on to the tarnished or stained brass.
  5. Allow it to sit for 10-20 minutes.
  6. Rinse and use a dry rag to polish brass.

Lemon and Baking Soda

Another acidic cleaner with the power to eat through dingy tarnish is lemon. Add to it baking soda and you have a powerful 1-2 punch for brass cleaning needs.

  1. Cut a lemon into wedges.
  2. Dip the wedges into the baking soda.
  3. Rub the brass with the wedge.
  4. Cover the metal with the mixture.
  5. Allow it to sit for 10 or more minutes for heavily tarnish.
  6. Rinse and buff.
Lemon and Baking Soda

Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Salt

Vinegar and baking soda make a powerful cleaning combination. However, when you add the scrubbing power of salt, it makes a great homemade brass cleaner.

  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of salt with 4 tablespoons of baking soda.
  2. Dissolve the mixture in a cup of white vinegar.
  3. Wet a cloth with the mixture.
  4. Use slow circular motions to apply the mixture to the brass.
  5. Let it sit for 10 minutes, at least.
  6. Rinse with water and buff dry.
Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Salt

Ammonia and Water

Naked brass with light tarnished will respond well to a little ammonia and water. For this recipe, you'll:

  1. Mix equal parts ammonia and water in a tub big enough to hold your brass object.
  2. Let the object sit in the mixture for at least an hour.
  3. Rub vigorously to dry and polish.

Use Caution With Naked Brass

Cleaning raw bass requires a bit of extra care. You don't want to create an unhealthy reaction between the cleaner and the raw metal, so take caution when experimenting with homemade cleaners.

Homemade Brass Cleaners for Lacquered Brass

When it comes to lacquered brass, make sure to use cleaners that won't harm the lacquer. Unless the lacquer is cracked, then you might want to consider re-lacquering it. For these methods, you'll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Dawn
  • Cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Tub for soaking
Lacquered Brass

Vinegar and Salt

Need a powerful cleaner for your brass? Bring on the salt and vinegar.

  1. In a tub, mix 5 tablespoons of salt with 1 cup of vinegar.
  2. Submerge your item and let it sit for at least an hour.
  3. Take an old toothbrush and rub the brass.
  4. Rinse and rub to dry.


For brass with the good lacquer, you only need a mild detergent to clean grim. For this recipe, follow these instructions.

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of Dawn with 1 cup of water.
  2. Soak the brass for about 10 minutes.
  3. Use the toothbrush to remove grime.
  4. Rinse and buff.

Lacquering Brass

If you are tired of dealing with raw brass items, you can lacquer them at home. However, before you do, you must remove dirt, grime, and gunk that may have collected on the surface. Spray lacquer works well, though it should be applied evenly in thin coats. Once the brass is lacquered, you can maintain its shine by rubbing it with a little olive oil. If you choose not to lacquer raw brass but want to keep it shiny and clean, wipe it with a little liquid ammonia once a week.

Keeping Brass Clean

When it comes to brass, you don't need to dole out your paycheck on harsh chemical cleaners. Your pantry is full of them. Now it's time to get cleaning.

Easy Homemade Brass Cleaner Recipes