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How to Clean Brass Faucets So They’re Good As New

Close up shot of a vintage two handle faucet in a bathroom with marble textured tiles.
  • Cleaning brass faucets, whether lacquered or unlacquered, should be a part of your regular cleaning routine to maintain their appearance.
  • Lacquered brass faucets have a protective coating, making them more resistant to tarnish, while unlacquered faucets develop a patina over time.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of dish soap, warm water, ketchup, and lemon juice.

Brass faucets add elegance and timeless beauty to your kitchens and bathrooms. However, over time, they may tarnish and lose their shine. While this is normal, it’s not usually desirable for people wanting to keep a clean home.

Learning how to clean brass faucets naturally can not only restore their luster but also extend their lifespan. It’s a quick way to revamp your home’s elegance and get more wear out of your fixtures.

To learn how to clean brass faucets the best way, we reached out to Marla Mock, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company for the full scoop. Turns out, all you need is the right tools, then you can easily follow a few step-by-step instructions.

What’s the Difference Between Lacquered and Unlacquered Brass Faucets?

An antique brass faucet over a black bowl sink.
July Prokopiv/Shutterstock.com

Before you can truly master how to clean brass faucets, it’s crucial to understand a key difference: lacquered and unlacquered brass bathroom or kitchen faucets.

“Lacquered brass has a protective coating called lacquer that is designed to protect it from air exposure and natural wear and tear,” said Mock. “When brass is unlacquered, it tarnishes over time, giving it an aged, or patina, look that is often desired.”

Essentially, a lacquered brass faucet has a coating that makes it more resistant to stains and discoloration, though it can wear off over time. Unlacquered faucets don’t have that coating. This means cleaning unlacquered brass requires a different approach than cleaning a lacquered faucet.

GGStudy 8 inch 2 Handles 3 Holes Widespread Bathroom Sink Faucet

Installing a brass faucet is one of the easiest ways to add charm to your bathroom.

How to Clean Lacquered Brass Faucets

A person cleans a brass faucet with a sponge while wearing a glove.

Lacquered brass kitchen and bathroom faucets are relatively low-maintenance, thanks to their protective coating. Gentle, regular cleaning can help maintain their shine, keep that lacquer coating strong, and prevent tarnish.

“To clean a lacquered brass faucet, just use lukewarm soapy water, wipe it with a clean, microfiber cloth, and dry thoroughly. Don’t use household cleaner and water that is too hot, or you can damage the lacquer,” said Mock.

Turns out it’s that simple! You can fully master how to clean brass faucets naturally with these simple supplies:

Once you have everything together, follow these simple steps:

  1. Start by mixing a few drops of dish soap with warm water until you have a sudsy, soapy cleaning mixture.
  2. Dip a soft microfiber cloth into the soapy water and use it to gently scrub the brass faucet. Focus on areas with water spots, soap residue, or fingerprints.
  3. Rinse the faucet with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  4. Use a dry, clean towel to pat the faucet dry. Ensure there are no water droplets left behind, as they can lead to water spots.

If you want to try a secret hack to restore your brass faucet, Mock has a tip.

“Apply a small drop of baby oil to a clean dry, microfiber cloth,” Mock said. “Rub the faucet until it shines. Use a second microfiber cloth to remove any access oil.”

HOMEXCEL Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

This 12-pack of gentle microfiber clothes is perfect for all your cleaning chores.

How to Clean Unlacquered Brass Faucets

Antique brass shower faucet that needs a good cleaning.

Unlacquered brass faucets can develop a beautiful patina over time. This usually starts with a golden color that transitions into blues, purples, greens, and then grays. It’s not harmful to your faucet, but some homeowners find it undesirable. However, if you see any spots of red, that’s a clear sign of rust that needs to be removed.

Regular cleaning is necessary to remove unwanted tarnish and restore your faucet’s original shine. While there are various methods out there, Mock recommended the following method.

You will need:

  • Fresh lemons
  • A bottle of ketchup
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • A couple of towels that you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Metal polish (as a last resort)

Once you have all your tools together, follow these steps:

  1. Start by pouring some ketchup into a bowl and bringing it to your faucet in question. Spread a healthy supply of ketchup all over the brass faucet using a towel.
  2. Let that sit for up to an hour without disturbing it.
  3. Once it’s been about an hour, grab another bowl and create a paste with baking soda and lemon juice.
  4. Use another towel to spread the paste on your brass and gently buff the surface. Focus on areas with water spots, soap residue, or fingerprints.
  5. Rinse the faucet with clean water to remove any ketchup, baking soda, and lemon residue.
  6. Use a dry, clean towel to pat the faucet dry. Ensure there are no water droplets left behind, as they can lead to water spots.

“Only use the metal polish if all else fails!” said Mock.

So if you get to the end of these steps and you’re unhappy with the sight of your faucet, feel free to try a little metal polish.

Rolite Brass and Copper Polish

Use some brass polish as a last resort.

By following these cleaning methods, you can keep your brass faucets looking as good as new, regardless of whether they’re lacquered or unlacquered. Remember that regular cleaning preserves their appearance and enhances the overall aesthetics of your home.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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