How to Clean and Polish Metal

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Metal on faucets and doorknobs can become tarnished very quickly.
Metal on faucets and doorknobs can become tarnished very quickly. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Metal can be rusted from exposure to moisture, tarnished from substances in the air and otherwise dirtied from general wear and tear. Fortunately. these blemishes can be dealt with easily if the metal is cleaned as soon as the problems are noticed. The longer the metal is left to rust or blemish, generally the harder it is to fully restore the metal to its original condition. Cleaning and polishing metal usually just requires a few simple supplies and some elbow grease.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Clean rag
  • Salt
  • Microfiber towel
  • Toothpaste
  • Aluminum foil
  • Metal polish

Pour enough white vinegar onto a clean rag to dampen the cloth. Add a few pinches of salt to the rag.

Wipe down copper, brass or steel items with the vinegar and salt mixture to remove dirt and tarnishing. Rinse the items off afterward and thoroughly dry them with a microfiber towel.

Apply toothpaste to a corner of your rag that hasn't been touched by the vinegar and use it to wipe down silver or gold objects.

Dip aluminum foil into white vinegar and then wipe the foil over chrome to remove debris from chrome items. Rinse the chrome afterward.

Add metal polish to a clean rag and then buff each metal item with the rag to improve its shine after the metal has been cleaned. Read the packaging to make sure that the polish is intended for that type of metal you want to polish, since some polishes work for some metals and not for others.

Tips & Warnings

  • A scrub brush or steel wool can be used to help remove harder stains or buildup from metal but it also has a higher likelihood of scratching the metal surface.

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