How To Clean Brass Without Brasso

How To Clean Brass Without Brasso

Many of us are increasingly looking for low-cost and less toxic alternatives to shop-bought cleaning products including Brasso. 

The warnings on the labels that include the words ‘toxic’ and ‘hazardous’ are very offputting. 

But when it comes to cleaning Brass are there alternatives to the toxic and hazardous Brasso?

The good news is that there are. The even better news is that in this article we’ll go through everything you need for cleaning brass, even tarnished brass without Brasso and indeed without any harmful chemicals or expensive products. 

Whether you want to clean brass handles, brass and copper plaques, brass ornaments, brass pans or your brass musical instruments we’ve got all the tips you need. 

What You Need to Clean Brass

The things you can use to clean brass without Brasso are easy to come by, in fact, you’ve probably got them all sat in your kitchen cupboards or bathroom right now. 

  • Baking soda and lemon.
  • Salt and lemon.
  • Ketchup.
  • Toothpaste.
  • Soap.
  • Vinegar, salt, and flour. 

In addition to one of these, you will 2 lint-free microfibre cloths and a bowl.  

The Process of Cleaning Brass 

It is important to note first that these cleaning methods could damage items if they are either brass plated (test with a magnet: pure brass will not stick) or are lacquered brass. If your brass is lacquered or plated then professional cleaning is probably your best option. 

Always test on a small inconspicuous area first and if your item is an antique seek professional advice as cleaning antique brass can diminish its value. 

Baking Soda and Lemon

  • Mix the juice from half a lemon and a teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl of water. 
  • Use a cloth to apply the mixture.
  • Buff away any stains or tarnish. 
  • Wipe with a wet cloth. 
  • Buff. 

Salt and Lemon

  • Put some salt in a shallow dish like a sauce. 
  • Cut a lemon in half and push the cut end into the salt. 
  • Simultaneously squeeze and rub the lemon onto the brass item/s. 
  • Rinse or wipe with a wet cloth. 
  • Buff. 


  • Using a cloth rub a small amount of ketchup onto the brass. 
  • Leave for a few moments. 
  • Wipe with a wet cloth. 
  • Buff. 


  • Use only plain white toothpaste.
  • Use a clean, damp cloth to apply a thin layer of toothpaste over the brass item. 
  • Leave for a minute or two. 
  • Rub gently, applying more pressure to stubborn spots and marks. 
  • Wipe with a wet cloth removing all toothpaste. 
  • Buff. 

Vinegar, Salt and Flour

  • Put half a cup of vinegar in a bowl. 
  • Stir in 1 tsp salt until it dissolves. 
  • Add flour and mix to a paste. 
  • Rub the mixture over your brass. 
  • Leave for 10 minutes. 
  • Rinse.
  • Buff.

Soap and Water

Soap flakes can be bought from most hardware stores if your local supermarket does not stock them. 

  • Dissolve around 2 tsp of soap flakes in a large bowl or bathtub of warm water.
  • Immerse brass items or wet cloth in soapy water. 
  • Leave for a few minutes. 
  • Rub with a cloth or an old toothbrush to remove tarnished areas.
  • Rinse or wipe with a wet cloth (plain water). 
  • Buff.   

Tips to Keep Brass Tarnish Free

Exposure to oxygen tarnishes brass so it is almost impossible to keep brass tarnish free without regular cleaning. 

Keeping your brass plaques or items dust free will help as will applying a light coating of linseed oil after cleaning. 

Make Your Brass Items More Special

Once you have cleaned your brass items why not consider making them more special with a bespoke engraving? To find out more visit Furnells specialist engravers.

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