How to Polish Brass at Home


The warm luster of brass adds a rich touch to your home décor. Unfortunately, unless the brass is coated it is prone to tarnish when exposed to air. Polishing the brass removes the tarnish and returns its shine. The color of brass becomes richer with age. Losing this richness due to improper polishing can ruin the look of your brass pieces. Antique brass is particularly susceptible to damage from improper polishing, so test any polishing method on a hidden area of the piece first to prevent damage to the brass.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Linseed oil
  • Cloths
  • Non-iodized salt
  • Cornstarch
  • Lemon juice
  • Lemon oil
  • Fill the sink with warm, soapy water. Use a gentle, fragrance-free dish soap. Wash the brass piece in the water, using a sponge to scrub away any dirt buildup. Wipe the brass dry with a lint-free cloth.

  • Dip a cloth into boiled linseed oil. Rub the oil into the brass, remoistening the cloth in the oil as necessary. Rub with a circular motion, buffing out the tarnish as you polish.

  • Combine 1 part non-iodized salt with 1 part cornstarch and add enough lemon juice to form a paste. Use this on heavy tarnish, or as an alternative to using linseed oil.

  • Cover the brass with the paste. Rub the paste into the brass with a cloth, using the same circular buffing motions as in Step 2. Rinse any remaining paste from the brass item once all the tarnish is removed.

  • Wipe the brass dry with a clean cloth. Coat the brass in lemon oil to prevent future tarnish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lacquered brass can be polished with a dry, soft cloth. Polishes and cleaners may damage the finish.

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  • Photo Credit antique brass kettle image by Alx from
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