How to Restore Old Hinges

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Old hinges can work like new with some attention.
Old hinges can work like new with some attention. (Image: hinge image by musk from Fotolia.com)

Old hinges are most often made of brass, or at least brass-plated metal. With most types of metal, including brass, the hinges eventually rust, people paint over them and they begin to work less efficiently. If you encounter old hinges in your home and wish to restore them, be aware that some abrasive cleaners will strip the metal. Knowing how to restore the hinges will retain the effectiveness and add to the attractiveness of the door.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Container
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Rubber gloves
  • Medium-bristled brush
  • Steel wool (optional)
  • Metal polish
  • Rag
  • Penetrating oil

Unscrew the hinges from the door or lid. Lift the door from the frame and lean it up against a wall. Place the screws and hinge parts in a container so you do not lose them.

Fill a bucket with hot water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Make suds in the water by mixing it with gloved hands. Place the hinge parts in the bucket and allow them to soak for five minutes.

Scrub the hinges with a medium-bristled brush. Scrub off all the dirt, debris and rust you possibly can. If rust is still present, try using steel wool on the metal parts. You cannot use steel wool on brass-plated hinges, however, or you may ruin them. Let the hinges dry completely.

Rub each part of the hinge with polish and a rag. Depending on the type of metal, use a brass polish or metal polish to clean the metal. This will keep it shining, resisting rust for a longer period of time.

Replace the hinges back on the door or lid. Squeeze a drop or two of penetrating oil onto the pins of the hinges to increase usability.

Tips & Warnings

  • To test for brass-plated metal, scratch an inconspicuous part of the hinge. If the scratch is bright yellow, it is brass; if it is any other color, it is brass-plated.

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