Clean Brass with Home Remedies

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Super easy way to clean brass without going to the store! Salt, vinegar and ketchup to clean brass, home remedies to clean brass, #clean #homeremedies

Have you ever heard of cleaning anything with ketchup? Well, I shook my head in disbelief too until I tried it! I decided to redo my entryway to spruce up my house for the new year. I was tired of looking at cluttered shoes and coats everywhere, so something had to be done.

I got a very cool new entryway furniture piece {more on that in a later post} and added some of my own DIY decor,  see my Hello Darling Sign from a tray and I wanted to include this brass umbrella stand I’ve had sitting in the corner of my office for a couple of years now. I use it to store my yardsticks, and I thought it would be the perfect addition to my new front door vignette.

Clean tarnished brass with home remedies before pic

I bought the stand at Goodwill a few years ago. When I saw it, I instantly thought it had great bones, but man was it tarnished. I had planned to paint over it or cover it with fabric, I just never got around to it. One of those lost projects that never got finished. Well now since brass is starting to become a trend again, I wanted to try to get the stand close to its original glory so I could use it in my entryway.

I started searching around “how to clean brass” and came across a bunch of home remedies. The quirkiest one I found was smearing ketchup over the brass! We all know there is acid in tomatoes so I wasn’t completely skeptical, but it does sound weird to clean with it. I had some on hand and so I thought “what the heck” let’s give it a try!

Rub ketchup on brass to clean off tarnish

I put the stand on its side and rubbed a thin layer of ketchup {Heinz to be exact} all over the barrel with a paper towel and let it sit. An hour later I started to see the ketchup drying out and turning white. The white was freaking me out a little and I didn’t want to tarnish it further. So, in case this method wasn’t working, I rinsed it off. I suds it up with Dawn dishwashing soap, then rinsed and dried the barrel.

To my surprise, it came out better than I expected! It was clearly lighter and brighter. So I figured since it did that well in an hour, I thought let’s go for one more and see how it looks.

So I repeated the process again.  Let me just say, wow, what a difference the ketchup made. It was almost clean, but it still had some streaks on it. It looked like streaks from where I applied the ketchup in long wipes. So, back to the home remedy list for another method to remove the rest of the muck.

The next method I tried was a white vinegar and table salt mixture. I just poured vinegar over the barrel in a sink and sprinkled it with salt. I lightly scrubbed the barrel with a paper towel and to my surprise, almost all the tarnished black/green muck streaks were gone!

How to clean Brass with Ketchup Home remedies after pic

It’s not perfect, but I wasn’t looking for a like “brand new” finish, I like a little patina. So to me, it came out perfect! I am sure if you really scrubbed and repeated these methods you would get close to new results. So, all in all, I am happy! Thanks, Pinterest!

Before you start using one of these methods for cleaning:

The first thing you need to do is figure out if your brass piece is solid brass, or brass-plated steel, zinc, or cast iron.  Place a small magnet on the piece if you’re not sure about it. Magnets will not stick to solid brass, so if the magnet sticks, the piece is brass-plated. Plated items can be cleaned with hot soapy water, but rubbing or polishing them too aggressively can remove the brass plating, so proceed with caution.

The remedies below are only for raw brass. You need to determine if the brass is coated with a lacquer of some sort. If so, you may need to get a varnish remover to get the coating off before cleaning. Then reapply lacquer after cleaning.

Clean Brass with Home Remedies

Home Remedy #1~ Apply ketchup to brass with a soft cloth. Leave on for one hour then rinse. Wash with soap, rinse then dry thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.

Home Remedy #2~ Apply White vinegar with a soft cloth to brass. Sprinkle with table salt and gently scrub the brass. Rinse the brass with water, wash with a mild soap, rinse again and then dry thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.


Super easy way to clean brass without going to the store! Salt, vinegar and ketchup to clean brass, home remedies to clean brass, #brass #homeremedies

Super easy way to clean brass without going to the store! Salt, vinegar and ketchup to clean brass, home remedies to clean brass, #clean #brass #homeremedies

Check out more of my Home Decor Projects~

How to add Feet to Furniture

Update an Entryway into a Mudroom 


  1. Amazing! I never imagined cleaning something with Tomato Sauce. :) I would surely try next time I need to clean any brassware.
    I have tried White Vinegar and Salt, and it worked really well.
    Thanks for sharing this superb piece of information.
    -Prerna Jain

  2. I tried the salt, vinegar and soda method and was quite pleased with the results, certainly worked better than the brass cleaner that I bought recently.
    Thank you for the great idea.

  3. I didn’t hear about cleaning brass items with ketchup. if its good then it may be an alternative.
    But i believe using lemonade gives good results. better and best than before.

  4. Hah! I came across this article using a quick Google search because I had a client with a super stubborn piece of brass. Vinegar, Salt and Ketchup is now added to my bag of tricks!

  5. Kim Morris says:

    A friend called me with ?, how do i clean my new brass item that i bought at a thrift store, i shared this vinegar n salt, he only had apple vinegar n used that…. He was more than amazed n pleased with the outcome …Ty Very Much for Sharing, It Worked GREAT!

  6. Home Cleaners says:

    good article i dont expect ketchup can clean a brass metal, well i will try that if it will work.

  7. I am sure if you really scrubbed and repeated these methods you would get close to new results. So all in all I am happy! Thanks Pinterest! :-)

    1. Glad it worked out well for you! Thanks for reading.

  8. These are some wonderful tips here! As part of my spring cleaning routine, I always clean my brass cutlery with an unusual homemade solution. I mix 1 tsp of table salt into 1/2 cup of white, distilled vinegar. Then I add flour to the mixture until it becomes a thick paste that I can easily apply on the brass surface. I rub it in the brass and leave it set for 15 to 20 minutes. Then I rinse with warm water. It works miracles. I learned about this method from the cleaner that I booked for my one-off cleaning session and I was pretty amazed by the results of using natural products for everyday cleaning.

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