How do I clean heavily tarnished metal?


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Victoria Picking Profile

Here's a list of the most common metals and how best to clean them:

  • Cast Iron - If you want to clean cast iron, I strongly advise you against soap and water, as it will rust very easily. 

    One method you could use is to rub the object with salt and then a light layer of oil, put it over a low heat to remove any moisture. If it has already rusted then you will need to give it a scrub with wet/dry sandpaper first.

  • Brass- The first stage to cleaning brass is just to use a little warm soapy water on it, and a soft rag to give it a gentle scrub, or a toothbrush to get into any details.

    If the problem is that the lacquer has started to come of an object, making the brass underneath tarnish, then you might want to remove the rest of the lacquer and start from scratch.

    To do this you will need to submerge the object in boiling water with a pinch of baking soda in it, then remove once the lacquer has come off. Simply paint your object with some more brass polish to get it looking as good as new.
  • Aluminium- Firstly give the metal a scrub with soap and water to get rid of any surface dust, next you will need to use acid.  The best thing I have found to use is a lemon rubbed with salt, then use this to rub the metal.
  • Copper- This metal tarnishes very quickly so may need to be cleaned regularly. Make a paste of salt vinegar and flour, and put it all over the copper and let it settle for about 10 minutes. Then start polishing with a rag until the metal starts to shine.

  • Stainless Steel- Usually this is quite a simple metal to clean, all you will need to do is brush the metal with a damp cloth. If this doesn't work then try adding a bit of baking soda or rubbing alcohol.

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