Nontoxic, Homemade Brass and Metal Polish
Last week I showed you a sneak peek at Mikey’s new (thrifted) dresser in my S is for Shoes post. Then I blathered on, my nerdy heart all aflutter, about how excited I was to share how I cleaned all the brass handles. That’s what today’s post is all about. Are you on the edge of your seats?! I knew it.
Here’s the picture from last week in its original form. The dresser is large and sits in front of his bed, so I didn’t have much wiggle room to get a good picture. I know it’s difficult to get a good idea of what I want you to see so here is the takeaway: handles = 50 years of tarnish.
My jiggling rear isn’t just for show. Also, I’m not Martha Stewart. I was too lazy to drive to the store for something I would use only once and there are no “go-to” brass polishes tucked in my cupboards. Okay, I was also kind of excited to try a new home recipe.
In a glass or plastic bowl (never metal) mix 2/3 cup distilled white vinegar with 2/3 cup flour. All I had was whole wheat flour, so my cleanser is for heart-healthy tarnish. Once the mixture is smooth, add 1/2 cup of salt and stir until mixed in. This isn’t the sort of thing that keeps well, so make this polish on an as-needed basis.
Arrange all your items on a platter or cookie sheet. (I used parchment paper underneath because my cookie sheet is metal.) If I could do it again, I would have made a double or triple batch and dumped it in a 9×13 pan. You’ll see why in a minute.
Take your mix and glop it all over your tarnished brass. The mix should be thick and sticky. I think I could have used an extra tablespoon of flour, but no biggie. I just took care to cover all the nooks and crannies. Had I made a larger batch and dumped it into a 9×13 pan (mentioned above) I could have just buried everything in there and saved myself some time.
Let it sit for a couple of hours, overnight if needed. I let mine sit overnight because the handles and pulls were just terrible. I knew 1-2 hours of salty-sour flour wasn’t going to cut it. The delay fit into my schedule perfectly. I spent the rest of the day clearing out my parents’s storage unit for the garage sale.
See all that green? That means it’s working.
The next day I just dumped everything in the sink and washed off the dried goop. Because some pieces are intricate and my goop wasn’t thick enough, I tried a little Bar Keeper’s Friend in the grooves and on some areas that still had a bit of tarnish on them. It didn’t do anything. The tarnish left behind wasn’t going anywhere. I suppose something with industrial strength would have worked, but my goal was very good, not pristine.
I think the results are better than very good.
And here they are on the dresser! Not bad, if I do say so myself. (Just don’t look at that drawer on the left, second from the bottom. Let’s pretend I remembered to shut it properly before I took the picture, okay?)
If you are looking for a nontoxic way to polish silver, please check out this visual tutorial where I do just that to appease my immigrant mother (Argentina) who has a thing about tarnished silver. Also, this is a fantastic science experiment for kids. My son did this for his first grade science fair using thrift store spoons and received high marks.