How to Clean and Polish Brass Kitchen Handles

How to Clean and Polish Brass Kitchen Handles

Are you about to DIY restoring your brass kitchen handles? Many will say leave it to the experts to do it for you, but we’re here to tell you that yes, you CAN certainly do it all by yourself. While brass kitchen handles have gained a notorious reputation for easily corroding when not cleaned and polished properly, it’s no sign for you to get intimidated by it.

Get ready for a quick, step-by-step process on how you can clean and polish your own brass kitchen handles. 


  1. Determine whether your kitchen handles are solid or plated brass by using a strong magnet. Magnets are attracted to solid steel or zinc, but will not stick to brass alloys, whether lacquer-sprayed or not. 


  1. If the kitchen handles happen to be sprayed with a protective lacquer finish, remove it first using denatured alcohol, paint stripper, or nail polish remover, but make sure to use it sparingly as you don’t want to damage the surface with too many chemicals.  


  1. Continue to scour the kitchen handles to remove built-up grime, corrosion, and tarnish. For this, you can use a lacquer thinner or simply a mixture of vinegar and salt. You can scour a solid brass handle with steel wool, while being careful on plated surfaces. For brass-plated surfaces that are more fragile, just use an old soft cloth.  


  1. Heavily tarnished brass can be soaked with ammonia. You have to be careful, however, because ammonia can pit or degrade brass if left for too long. Watch the chemical reaction carefully and if you see that it’s too much and the process needs to be stopped, you can neutralize it with a spray of diluted vinegar. 


  1. Next, you can apply a thick layer of commercial brass cleaner or polish, then dry. You have two options when it comes to cleaners and polishes: caustic or acidic formulas. You’ll have to experiment with what works best for your kitchen handles, but generally, acidic formulas react only with tarnished brass. Caustic ones, meanwhile, only react with the brass itself. 


  1. Buff the kitchen handles with a soft cloth, making sure to remove all polish. Continue buffing until the brass shines and all the tarnish is removed. 


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