How to Clean Copper & Brass Without Chemicals

Cleaning Without the Use of Chemicals

It seems that every cleaning supply under the kitchen sink has harsh chemicals on its list of ingredients. These chemicals can attack respiratory systems, cause skin irritations, and in some cases, can bring long term health concerns. Copper & Brass has been a task that brings up such concerns because of the caustic nature found in these chemical based tarnish removing supplies.


No Harsh Chemicals for Brass and Copper Cleaning

The patina that forms on brass and copper over time is caused by a reaction to the surrounding air. In the past, harsh brass and copper cleaners requiring you to ‘glove-up’ have been employed. For me, this is a sure sign that it is time to find something in the home that can not only get the job done, but do it without dangerous chemicals!

Foods That Clean Copper & Brass

Over the years I have recalled a few of the techniques for cleaning Brass and Copper that my mother and Grandmother employed. Some may be among the things that you have in your everyday pantry and refrigerator. Here is a list, and how to use chemical-free food items to make your brass sparkle and your copper gleam!

8 Great Tasting Copper And Brass Cleaning Foods!

  1. A1 Steak Sauce
  2. Ketchup
  3. Worcestershire Sauce
  4. Tabasco Sauce
  5. Kool-Aid
  6. Flour, Salt, & Vinegar
  7. Real Lemon & Salt
  8. Yellow Mustard

How to Use A1 Steak Sauce to Clean Copper

Using a soft cloth, rub A1 Steak Sauce on tarnished copper. The acid from the tomato puree combined with the vinegar in the recipe removes the tarnish in no time at all.

How to Use Ketchup to Clean Copper

To devour the tarnish on your precious copper items, cover them in a layer of ketchup and then let them stand for 10 minutes. Rinse off the ketchup with running water to find that the copper has returned to a shiny bright finish.

Cleaning Copper With Worcestershire Sauce

By simply rubbing Worcestershire Sauce on the tarnished surface of your dull utensils using a soft cloth, and then rinsing with water, you will show off copper that is as bright as bright can be!

How to Clean Copper With Tabasco Sauce

The various acids in the Tabasco recipe vigorously eat away at copper tarnish. All you do is rub it on with a soft cloth and then rinse away that dull tarnish.

How to Use Kool-Aid to Clean Brass Tarnish

This one is a favorite! Using any flavor of kool-aid you have around, mix it with 2-quarts of water (use a bucket so the food coloring doesn’t stain the sink). Soak your brass items in the fruity drink for about 10 minutes. The citric acid will clean the tarnish on the surface of your brass pieces. Make sure to throw out the used kool-aid afterwards so no one takes an unwitting swig of the tarnish laden beverage!

How to Clean Brass and Copper With Flour, Salt, and Vinegar

This one has an actual formula for cleaning your brass or copper tarnish! Simply mix 1-TBL of flour, 1-TBL of salt, and 1-TBL of vinegar until it becomes a paste. Spread the paste on tarnished copper or brass, and leave it until completely dry. Rinse with running water, dry and wipe clean!

Clean Copper & Brass With Real Lemon and Salt

This one may not be the most unusual, but it certainly gets the tarnish removal done! Combine 1-TBL salt and 2-TBL real lemon juice. Rub this mixture onto copper until the shine peeks through. The chemical reaction cleans copper and brass tarnish almost instantly!

How to Use Mustard to Clean Tarnish From Copper and Brass

Rub any tarnished brass or copper object with regular old yellow mustard, and wait about 10 minutes. Rinse with running water and dry. The vinegar in the yellow mustard helps to break down the tarnish, leaving your now untarnished items wonderfully shiny!

How to Keep Brass and Copper Tarnish Free Using VO5 or Bounce

These may have a few chemicals, but they are also less harsh than most copper and brass cleaners we find to specialize in the task. So, when you want to keep your brass and copper clean, head to the laundry room or bedroom vanity for a sheet of Bounce or a can of VO5!

VO5 to Keep Brass and Copper Tarnish Free

Using the iconic hairspray, shower your clean and shiny brass and copper items with a light coat of VO5 Hairspray. The spray will coat the items preventing tarnish from ruining your sparkling table settings and objects.

Bounce Keeps Tarnish Off Clean Brass and Copper

Using a clean (but used) sheet of Bounce fabric softener, rub down your tarnish free brass and copper. The anti-static elements left behind in the sheet not only help to clean away tarnish, but will assist in keeping tarnish from forming for some time.

Don’t Use Ammonia on Brass!

Some may suggest using ammonia to clean away tarnish from precious brass objects. This is NOT a good plan in any way. The ammonia brings an unfortunate chemical reaction that can cause stress fractures in brass. This is a big NO-NO, especially when it comes to firearms that have any brass work on them. Not only can the brass fracture, but the danger of serious injury is also of concern.

Clean Brass and Copper Gently

Because these items are both rather soft metals, when cleaning the tarnish from their surfaces it is important to have a gentle touch. Every time you clean brass or copper a little bit of the surface will also be rubbed away, it is just the nature of the material. Using soft cloths and light cleaning strokes can help to reduce the surface erosion due to years of cleaning the items.

Why Should I Remove Residue From Brass and Copper

If you notice that your brass & copper have a greyish-white or greenish-white powdery substance tucked away on the detail work of a piece, you should remove it. Over time, past owners have applied harsh tarnish remover which has built up in those details, causing a degraded surface patina to grow. (The colored debris you are seeing is residue from past harsh cleaners.) You can gently remove it using a toothpick and warm water. Leaving powdery stuff on your brass or copper can slowly eat away at the soft metal, especially in the detail work.

Applying a Wax Coating Keeps Brass and Copper Shiny and Tarnish Free

After cleaning the tarnish from your treasured brass and copper, a coat of wax can be applied to keep it clean and bright; as well as protected. A simple wax formula is:

Equal parts mineral of spirits (Shellsol, or Varsol, as an example) and high-quality white furniture wax (Renaissance, or any bleached paste wax). Mix them together, being sure to keep the mixture in a tightly sealed container.

How to Apply a Protective Wax Coating to Brass & Copper

  1. Wipe or brush the wax all over the object.
  2. Set it aside so the mineral spirits can evaporate.
  3. Even coating is paramount.
  4. If the piece is not adorned with heat sensitive materials, using a hair dryer to melt the wax can get it into the tiny recessed areas of the decorative details to protect them.
  5. Blot off any wax drippings while they are still warm.
  6. Polish the wax after it has set, using a clean lint-free cloth.


Source :


Saving our forefathers ways starts with people like you and me actually relearning these skills and putting them to use to live better lives through good times and bad.Our answers on these lost skills comes straight from the source, from old forgotten classic books written by past generations, and from first hand witness accounts from the past few hundred years. The Lost Ways Bookteaches you how you can survive in the worst-case scenario with the minimum resources available, just like our forefathers did it for hundreds of years.



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