If you are a proud owner of brass jewelry, you already know how beautiful and elegant your pieces look. The downfall to any brass jewelry piece is they tarnish rather easily, which makes the pieces quite challenging to maintain. Learning how to clean brass jewelry allows you to get the most wear out of your items.
When it comes to cleaning brass jewelry, something to be aware of is how prone the surface is to scratching. As brass is easily scratched, you need to use extreme caution when using abrasive cleaners or methods, so you don’t ruin your beautiful pieces.
When learning how to clean brass jewelry, you need to determine what is going on with it to use the correct cleaning method. For example, the patina is a thin green-brown layer on the jewelry, while a green, black, or bluish-green discoloration is tarnish. Each of these blemishes requires a different cleaning method and a different level of cleaning.
Basic Brass Jewelry Cleaning Tips
While you can use natural cleaning methods for antique brass jewelry, it is not recommended. Antique pieces are often fragile, and even gentle cleaning with non-abrasive cleaners can damage the finish. We encourage you to consider having your antique brass jewelry professionally cleaned to prevent any damage.
Clean lacquered pieces with a damp cloth or have them professionally cleaned. After cleaning bronze jewelry, use a little olive oil to shine it; a similar process is used with brass. With brass, be careful as not to use too much oil.
Dab a small amount onto a cloth, apply to your brass item, and buff it out with a second soft rag. Olive oil also helps prevent the piece from tarnishing.
If your jewelry features decorative pieces or gemstones, do not use a cleaning solution on those parts. Acidic cleaners easily damage stones and other items found on jewelry. Use a toothbrush to ensure you only apply the cleaner to the brass surfaces, as a rag is a bit harder to control.
Ordinary household items, such as flour, vinegar, salt, and lemon can be used to clean brass, but they also make an excellent copper cleaner for jewelry.
1. Home Remedy for Cleaning Brass Jewelry
If your brass jewelry is slightly dirty or if it is brass coated, use this home remedy for cleaning brass. How to tell if your item is brass-coated requires finding out if it sticks to a magnet or not. Jewelry that attaches to a magnet is brass-coated, solid brass does not adhere to a magnet.
In a bowl, add one cup of water and four drops of dish soap, such as Dawn. Stir to mix in the soap. The soapy water gently removes dirt without removing the patina.
Test the solution on a small hidden area before washing the entire brass piece. If you have any concerns after testing, consider taking the item in and having it professionally cleaned.
Use a cloth or toothbrush to clean the brass. Dip the cloth or toothbrush into the water and use small circular movements to clean the surface. You may have to clean the same area more than once to get the jewelry as clean as you desire.
Do not scrub hard as it may scratch the brass. You may need to soak the piece for about three minutes in the water to remove stubborn spots.
Toothbrushes work best for pieces that have a lot of crevices, while a microfiber cloth works better on smooth surfaces. Once clean, rinse under cold water, ensuring you remove all soapy residue. To prevent water spots from appearing, dry with a microfiber cloth.
2. Tip on Cleaning Tarnished Brass Jewelry
If your brass is lightly tarnished, use a natural jewelry cleaner made from lemon and salt. Although acidic, a lemon isn’t abrasive enough to damage the finish on your brass when used correctly.
Cut a lemon or lime in half. Cutting lengthwise gives you more surface to clean with, but you can cut it in half either way. You do not have to remove seeds from the lemon halves, but you may find it more manageable.
Pour some salt in a container. Dip the lemon in the salt and check to see that the cut side is fully coated with salt.
Holding the brass item in your hand, gently rub the salted lemon all over the surface of the brass until shining. If you are cleaning a large piece or a pretty nasty piece, you may need to dip the lemon back into the salt a few times. For intricate pieces, make a paste out of some lemon juice and salt and use a toothbrush to clean the piece.
Once the item is clean, rinse thoroughly and dry with a dry cloth until it shines. Do not leave any lemon juice on the brass as it will etch your jewelry’s surface.
3. How to Clean Tarnished Brass
When cleaning jewelry, built-up grime and heavy tarnish are your worst enemy. Sometimes a gentle cleaning with soap and water just doesn’t cut it, so you need to try a different cleaning method.
In a bowl, mix one teaspoon of salt with ½ cup of vinegar, stirring until the salt is fully dissolved. Next, add two tablespoons of flour to form a thick paste.
Rub the paste onto your jewelry using a rag, toothbrush, or your fingers. Set jewelry aside for ten minutes. Rinse thoroughly, and dry completely with a soft cloth.
However, if you have clean, shiny brass, you may want to darken brass to give it an antique look. Use this same recipe to apply to your brass but leave it on for a longer period and wipe away the residue without rinsing.
4. Best Occasional Cleaners for Brass Jewelry
A non-gel toothpaste makes an excellent brass cleaner on occasion. Use a toothbrush, rag, or your finger to smear toothpaste on brass items. After five minutes, rub off with a soft cloth.
Once brass looks clean, rinse well under warm water and dry thoroughly. Only use toothpaste on occasion as it’s considered mildly abrasive, so over time, it can scratch the brass surface.
5. How to Polish Brass Jewelry
Part of cleaning is learning how to polish brass jewelry so that it shines. One of the easiest ways to shine up brass is by using ketchup or Worcestershire sauce. You may use a combination of the two for the same, if not better, results.
Squirt a little ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, or a bit of both onto a brush or rag. Gently rub your jewelry’s surface. For badly tarnished items, allow the brass cleaning solution to sit in place for up to five minutes.
Rinse cleaner away with warm water. Use a polishing cloth to polish and dry brass items.
6. How to Clean Brass Jewelry with Lemon and Baking Soda
You can use baking soda and lemon juice to create a brass cleaning solution. As you add the lemon juice to the baking soda, you will see fizzing. Once the fizzing dies down, apply the mixture to the jewelry with a rag.
Use a second rag to buff clean, rinse thoroughly, and dry. This natural cleaner is also discussed in our how to clean pewter article, as it makes an excellent all-around jewelry cleaner.
7. How to Keep Brass Clean and Tarnish Free
To prevent your brass jewelry from tarnishing, apply a thin layer of linseed oil or mineral oil with a cloth. Store the items in a dry location and avoid touching them unnecessarily. The more you touch brass, the faster it tarnishes, as the oils from your hands speed up the tarnishing process.
Thank you for reading about our ideas and recipes for cleaning brass jewelry. If you found any of our brass cleaner tips useful, please share them with others on Facebook and Pinterest so they can learn how to clean brass jewelry, too.