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How to clean brass with homemade cleaner

Brass knobs before and after cleaning

 

I recently got the ultimate bargain on eBay: someone who was doing a house clearance sold 6 pairs of old brass doorknobs. I bought them for £30. Pretty great considering you can normally expect to pay about £20 for a pair. The only slight problem was they were old, stained and had paint on them. Luckily, I found an easy way of cleaning them up to make them look shiny and new again. Read on to find out how easy it is to clean dirty brass using things you probably already have at home.

Paint-stained brass knobs before cleaning
Paint-stained brass knobs before cleaning

 

How to remove paint from brass knobs

1. To clean the paint off the knobs, I brought a big pot of water to the boil and popped in a splash of laundry detergent. I then put in all the knobs, put the lid on the pot and reduced the heat to allow it to simmer away. Use a pan you don’t plan on cooking with again!

 

Removing the paint by simmering in a pan
Removing the paint by simmering in a pan

 

2. Then all you need to do is leave it, so you can get on with something else. Check on it after about an hour and see if the paint has loosened. An hour was all it took for all of the paint on mine to come off.

 

Lifting them out of the pan
Lifting them out of the pan

 

3. Carefully take the knobs out of the pot. Use tongs if you have them – they’re hot! I used two wooden spoons. I did one at a time, lifting it out onto a cloth and then running it under cold running water for a few seconds to cool it. All the paint should have fallen off at this point.

 

No more paint! How they looked before polishing
No more paint! How they looked before polishing

How to clean brass knobs naturally

Once all the paint was off, I needed to clean and polish the knobs as they were still quite stained. There are cleaners that you can buy but I used natural products that I already had in the kitchen and they worked perfectly!

 

1. To clean the brass, make a paste with lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda). I put the lemon juice in a cup first and then added the bicarbonate of soda until I’d created a paste. Make sure you add the bicarb a little at a time – add too much at once and it will fizz up and overflow!

 

Make a paste with lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda
Make a paste with lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda

 

2. Once you’ve made your paste, use an old toothbrush to gently rub it over the brass knobs. There’s no need to be heavy handed – you’ll be surprised how easily they clean up and you don’t want to cause any scratches.

 

Using the paste to clean the brass
Using the paste to clean the brass

 

3. Once you’ve given them a good clean, rinse the knobs under running water. They should be clean at this point, but give them another clean with the paste and rinse again if not.

 

After cleaning with homemade paste
After cleaning with homemade paste

 

4. Once you’ve rinsed them, dry them off and give them a polish with a clean, dry cloth.

 

Before and after cleaning with homemade paste
Before and after cleaning with homemade paste

 

5. Admire your reflection in your shiny new knobs and pour yourself a glass of wine to reward yourself for a job well done.

After removing paint and polishing with chemical free cleaner
After removing paint and polishing with chemical free cleaner

 

What a difference!
What a difference!

Top tip: when you’re cleaning brass with lemon juice and bicarb, either wear gloves or moisturise your hands afterwards – it’ll leave your hands quite dry the next day

Cost: £0 (if you already have lemon juice and bicarb)

Time taken: 2 hours (to clean 12 knobs)

Difficulty: 1/10

Click here to see my revamped doors after painting and fitting the knobs

Brass door knobs before and after cleaning

14 Comments

  1. Ann Finnegan Ann Finnegan

    I can’t believe how well they came up! productive afternoon. Ann

    • Ann Finnegan Ann Finnegan

      Just had my doors painted today! going to clean my brass door handles tonight, I hope they come up as good as yours!

  2. Ronnie Ronnie

    Well done they look fantastic

  3. I have a box full of old knobs, I have to try this! Your blog is full of awesome advices, thank you!:-)

    • Thank you very much! 🙂

  4. Lemon juice is nature’s cure for everything I swear! Awesome tips!

  5. Hey Karla,

    Awesome post with very helpful, practical and easy-to-follow tips. I didn’t know that lemon juice was so versatile!

    And great blog too 🙂

    Best regards

    Pedro

  6. Thank you for the advice. In Germany women who aren’t married yet have to clean door knobs at their 30th birthday- but I guess they are not allowed to do it the easy way

  7. And I literary get to read this just one week after I threw my brass accessories. God dammit my luck :D.
    Well, at least I know for the future. Thank you so much

  8. what a great job! and yes knobs especially brass are expensive. good to know the next time I’m at a thrift store or flea market.

  9. This is exactly how my grandmother used to clean brass!

  10. This is really good! They look as if you just bought them today.
    Sounds like a great technique. Would be great if there’s a way so that we can still use the pan after the cleaning process.

  11. […] Before I started, I was lucky enough to find a listing on eBay for six pairs of old brass doorknobs: the perfect number needed to give my shitty-knobbed doors a nice uniform look. They were from a house clearance and had seen better days, but all they needed was a bit of a spruce to remove the old paint and they were good to go. Check out my post on how I cleaned them up here. […]

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