How to Clean Spotted Lacquered Brass


Brass that has not been lacquered is subject to oxidation, making it appear dull and darkened. Lacquered brass has a bright, warm luster that, over time and use, can be affected by oxidation as the coating begins to wear away. Spotted brass may be an indication that the lacquer has worn away and tarnish has begun to form. If the spotting is caused by tarnish, the brass should be cleaned, stripped and relacquered.

Things You'll Need

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Sponges
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cotton balls
  • Soft cloths
  • Old toothbrush
  • Acetone or ammonia
  • Brass cleaner
  • Lacquer spray
  • Mineral oil or brass polish
  • Put the item in a soapy solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water if it is small enough. Otherwise, dip a sponge into the cleaning solution and thoroughly wash the brass. Rinse with clear water and dry it with a soft cloth.

  • See if the spotting remains. If the brass is still spotted, then you know that the spots are caused by tarnish instead of dirt.

  • Put on rubber gloves and dip a cotton ball or soft cloth into acetone or ammonia and rub the brass to remove the lacquer. Use an old toothbrush to get into crevices and corners. Rinse with warm, soapy water followed by clear water.

  • Apply a small amount of brass cleaner to a soft cloth. Rub the cleaner on the brass, working with the grain rather than in a circular motion.

  • Buff the item well with a soft cloth until it shines.

  • Spray the brass lightly and evenly with clear lacquer while wearing protective gloves.

  • Repeat the application two to three times, allowing each coat of lacquer to dry before applying the next.

  • Polish the brass with mineral oil or a commercial brass polish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you get started, make sure you are working with genuine brass instead of brass plate. Place a magnet near the item. A magnet is not attracted to genuine brass.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners on brass. Avoid handling brass without gloves since oils from your hands can stain brass. Always work in a well-ventilated area when using acetone or ammonia.

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