Photography by Justine Hand

Come learn with us as resident DIY expert Justine Hand shows how she restored the brass hardware on her historic butlers pantry.

Materials: - White vinegar  - Brass or metal polish - Gloves - Soft, clean cloths or rags  - Mineral or linseed oil - Soft bristle brush (optional) - Protective surface covering (optional) - Varnish or nail polish remover (optional)

Step 1: Test your metal.

Before you begin, confirm that your piece is indeed solid brass and not plate or some other gold-toned metal. To test, simply hold a magnet up to the surface. If it doesn’t stick, you have solid brass. If it does, you most likely have plate.

Step 2: Strip any laquer.

To remove the lacquer, submerge your brass piece in very hot water, which will cause the brass and the lacquer to expand. Carefully, remove your piece from the water and let it cool. As it does so, the metal will contract from the finish, and you should be able to peel the lacquer away.

Step 3:  Pre-Clean

Using hot, soapy water and a soft cloth or brush, clean away any dirt, food, or other deposits.

Step 4: Polish the brass.

Acids such as vinegar or lemon, even ketchup, can be used to clean brass. For more heavily oxidized brass, a commercial polish may be necessary.

Step 5: Wash.

Commercial polishes in particular will leave an dirty, oily residue. Wash this off with dish soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly.

Step 6: Protect

To protect your newly polished brass, rub with a light coat of mineral oil to preserve the finish (never add a lacquer coat to old brass).

Thoroughly cleaned, my brass hardware should only need a vinegar touch up every couple months.