How to Restore Antique Brass


Antique brass has warm patina that is acquired over time. Unfortunately, when neglected and not cared for properly this patina is covered over with unpleasant tarnish and dirt. You can easily restore a piece of antique brass with very little effort. You just need to make sure you don’t apply too much force or rub the brass too vigorously because this will also remove the fine patina beneath the dirt. Using soft, gentle strokes and the right cleaning treatment will restore the brass to its original beauty.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Soft cloth
  • Towel
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Long-term brass polish
  • Buffing cloth
  • Wash away any surface dirt on the brass by adding dish soap to hot water. Gently rub the dirt away with a soft cloth dipped in the water, not using a lot of pressure.

  • Rub the brass with a towel and let it dry thoroughly.

  • Make a restoration solution of salt, vinegar and water. Mix 1 tbsp. of salt, 1 tbsp. of vinegar and 1/2 pint of hot water until the salt dissolves.

  • Soak the cloth in the solution and rub it all over the brass. Clean the brass until the original patina is visible, wetting the cloth whenever it starts to dry out.

  • Wash the brass with hot, soapy water until all of the salt solution is removed. Rinse it clean of the soap with clear water.

  • Use a long-term brass polish to give the piece a strong, protective finish.

  • Pour the polish onto a buffing cloth and rub the brass until the polish is absorbed and the brass has a smooth, even finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • A long-term polish has particles that stick to the brass that help reduce future tarnishing.
  • Wear gloves while polishing to prevent the acid on your fingers from setting off the tarnishing process in the brass.

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  • Photo Credit brass urn image by Richard J Thompson from
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