How to Clean Antique Bronze & Verdigris

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with brush attachment

  • Old toothbrush

  • Mineral spirits

  • Lint-free cloth

  • Coarse salt

  • Vinegar

  • Flour

  • Bowl

  • Spoon

  • Soft cloth

The natural patina of bronze should not be removed.

Antique bronze can become quite dirty or grimy over time. Cleaning the piece involves removing the dirt and oils from previous handlers without damaging the aged bronze. Verdigris is a blue or green corrosion found on antique metal jewelry and caused by makeup, dirt and moisture. You must remove verdigris as soon as you find it, before it corrodes the piece beyond repair or spreads to your other jewelry.

Cleaning Antique Bronze

Step 1

Vacuum the bronze piece with a brush attachment. For smaller pieces or hard-to-reach crevices, gently brush the dust off the piece with an old toothbrush.

Step 2

Wet a cloth with mineral spirits. Rub the bronze piece gently with the cloth to remove grime.

Step 3

Rinse the piece with clean water and wipe it with a lint-free towel to dry it.

Step 4

Mix equal parts coarse salt, vinegar and flour into a bowl and stir it until it forms a paste. Gently rub the paste onto the antique brass with a soft rag or sponge to polish it, if necessary.

Removing Verdigris

Step 1

Fill a bowl with white vinegar. Set the bowl aside.

Step 2

Brush the verdigris spots with a dry, old toothbrush. Remove as much as possible, then dip the toothbrush in the white vinegar and scrub the spots again.

Step 3

Submerge the entire piece in the vinegar, if the toothbrush scrubbing did not remove all the verdigris. Let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4

Brush the loosened verdigris off the piece with the toothbrush. Rinse the piece in clean water and dry it with a lint-free cloth.


If the piece covered with verdigris is a costume jewelry piece with rhinestones, don't soak it in the vinegar. Instead, soak a paper towel in vinegar and lay the piece on top, dirty side down. Leave it for an hour, then brush the loosened spots off the piece.