Want a no hassle scratch free approach to cleaning darkened old brass? Vintage and antique metal components are great additions to art work, but sometimes an age patina doesn't turn out to be so charming. Don't waste time rubbing away patina-poo and risk scratching delicate brass bits! Just dip it... dip it good!
Before & After
I'm currently working on an assemblage art sculpture, and some of the old brass items that I want to use have tarnished too much. There are a lot of different methods for cleaning brass and copper. Many like vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and ammonia produce strong smelling odors that can not only stink up a studio room but also may be harmful to breath! Because I didn't want to scratch the surface of the brass, and because I'm a busy person too, I decided to use an easy dip soaking method.
The product I chose was simply Mr. Clean... with Febreze®, so it smells great in addition to working like a breeze! Just pour some of your favorite scent of undiluted Mr. Clean into a shallow dish, then add the brass bits. Make sure everything is covered by the cleaner and allow to soak several hours, depending on the severity of the tarnish. The product has even performed well for me at removing the green oxidation that can sometimes chew into brass, copper, and other metal. Without scrubbing or rubbing the brass will emerge clean with a soft shine. If not then soak a while longer, and for an extra boost renew the cleaning fluid if it turns very dark in color.
The first photograph that I've included shows a before and after effect on an antique brass corner guard. The guards had pieces of old tape stuck fast to them and had developed an unattractive patina over who-knows how many years. The cleaner softened the adhesive very quickly, so that the tape simply wiped away. I allowed a piece of tape to remain stuck in place during an over-night soaking to show the before and after effect. The dark rectangle where the tape used to be is the before color of the metal; Look how bright the rest of the corner guard is! All of the brass surface had been that black or darker. When your items are finished soaking be sure to rinse them very well to remove any residue. Except for rinsing, the cleaning process is basically hands free, but the best part is that it smells so good!
Before I glue down the metal objects that will go onto my assemblage I will wipe them with rubbing alcohol to ensure good adhesion; If it still smells like cleaner then the cleaner is probably still there, and rubbing alcohol should do the trick. The Mr. Clean product will remove most all paints and many types of varnish, so do have care and test a spot before using on any surface. Now that cleaning the metal parts of my project is finished I can move on to the fun part of assembling the art. I love using this easy cleaning method! Stepping out of the studio to reach under the kitchen counter can make an artist breath easier and the work itself a real breeze too. ;)