How to Remove White Residue After Polishing Brass

Things You'll Need

  • Ketchup

  • Clean cloth

  • Microfiber cloth

  • White vinegar

  • Bowl

If you love ketchup on fries, wait until you see what it does to brass.
Image Credit: Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Commercial brass polishers may fill you with relief and enthusiasm – until the white residue they often leave behind makes your brass piece look like a candidate for a "got milk" advertisement. Physical effort and a microfiber cloth often removes light traces of white residue but the more resilient form requires a different strategy.

Step 1

Squirt a dollop of ketchup on a clean cloth. Spread it over the white residue left behind on the brass piece.

Step 2

Remove the ketchup with another section of the same cloth or a new cloth. Buff the brass piece in circular motions with a microfiber cloth until it shines.

Step 3

Add white vinegar to ketchup to remove stubborn white residue that has settled overnight or has been exposed to sunlight. Mix a 2-to-1 ratio of ketchup to white distilled vinegar in a bowl. Rub the mixture onto the brass piece with a clean cloth, remove it, then buff it with a microfiber cloth.


To prevent a buildup of white residue, follow the directions exactly on your commercial brass cleaner. Using too much can contribute to a stubborn buildup.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the proper temperature range in which to apply the brass cleaner.

Apply commercial brass cleaner in a well-ventilated area.

Determine if your brass piece is solid or plated by pressing a magnet against it. If the magnet falls away, your brass piece is solid; if the magnet pulls, the piece is plated brass, meaning is has another metal underneath.


Never use abrasive or sharp cleaning tools on brass or you risk marring the surface.

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