Although I’ve been trying to curb the habit as of late, I will always and forever be a lover of all things vintage. Thrifting is one of my all-time favorite weekend activities, and thus, our home is filled to the brim with retro conversation pieces. It’s all the thrill of the hunt, as they say, and brass is my biggest weakness. That said, a lot of secondhand brass treasures come with a secondhand patina that, in some cases, is charming, yet in others is just plain gross. So, today, I’m teaching you how to effectively clean and polish your thrifted brass items using my go-to, ultra simple method. Read on for the details.
- Brasso metal polish
- Old T-shirt
- Secondhand brass treasure
To start, I’ll introduce you to my little brass cat. I picked this pint-sized feline up at the Williamsburg Antique Mall for a mere $6 out of pocket. Sure, he was looking a little worse for wear, what with his orange smeared, scratched up grimy finish, but I knew that a little elbow grease and Brasso metal polish would go a long way in the end. How did I know? Well, in my layman’s terms, the main way that I can tell whether or not a piece can benefit from a good Brasso cleaning is to lift it and hold it in my palm. If it feels disproportionately heavy in comparison to the object’s size, then it’s a genuine piece of cleanable brass.
After getting my little brass kitty home, I stole one of John’s old T-shirts and proceeded to cut it up into three 12-by-12-inch squares. Your squares don’t need to be exact by any means, but you will want to cut up several scraps in order to go the distance with your cleaning.
Next, set up shop in a well-ventilated area (this stuff is fumey!) with all of your supplies close at hand. Carefully open your Brasso and place one folded scrap of T-shirt at the opening. Pour a small amount onto the fabric (roughly a teaspoon) and then start vigorously wiping down your brass object with the wet fabric. The bad news is that this can be a slow process, especially if your brass figurine (like mine) sports an extra thick layer of patina. The good news is that you’ll start seeing results within minutes.
All in all, it took me about 30 minutes of careful scrubbing and polishing to bring my little cat back to its original shiny finish. I probably could have gone on for longer to give him a truly mirror like edge, but (1) I was running out of energy, and (2) I sort of like to see a tiny bit of patina and age because I think it adds to the character of the piece.
The difference was striking even to me. I had no idea that that pretty brass shine was under all of that orange age. The “new” cat is an entirely different color than before, and I’m quite partial to his newly cleaned coat. Try putting Brasso to work on your own treasures, and you, too, might be surprised to see what’s hiding under all of that dirt and grime.
(NOTE: This post is NOT sponsored in any way by Brasso. I just love the stuff and think you will, too)