Brass gets tarnished fairly easily, even if you don’t use it often. If you leave brass long enough, it may even become turn a shade of unsightly black or green. The good news is that you may not need to search for a specialized brass cleaner; you’ve already got something to use right at home.
Toothpaste contains mild abrasives that can be used to clean, polish, and buff brass objects. For the best results, use a simple, unicolor paste. Avoid gel toothpaste. Alternatively, you can use brass cleaner, vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and even ketchup to clean brass objects.
Let’s take a closer look at how to use toothpaste to clean brass objects, whether it’s an effective solution, and what other cleaning solutions work best.
Can Toothpaste Clean Brass?
You can use toothpaste to clean brass. Toothpaste contains abrasives that help remove dirt from brass without scratching it. It’s suitable for tarnished brass that may not respond to basic cleaning solutions.
However, not all types of toothpaste should be used to clean brass. The best toothpaste for cleaning brass is simple, unicolor paste. If you have heavily tarnished brass, whitening toothpaste (on Amazon) or one that contains baking soda will work.
Avoid using gel toothpaste as it doesn’t contain enough abrasives to clean tarnished brass.
Why Does Brass Turn Green?
If your shiny new brass develops a green tint, there’s no need to worry. Green brass is caused by metal oxide that forms on the surface of the brass.
The copper and zinc alloys on the brass surface may turn into an oxide when it comes into contact with air and moisture. If you live in a humid area, your brass will get tarnished more often as a result.
Brass may also turn green when it comes into contact with water. And while it may seem counterintuitive, washing brass more often can actually result in it becoming tarnished faster. Brass will wear off slightly every time you clean it, which is why it’s better to give your brass a light polish rather than wash it every time you notice slight tarnish.
Fortunately, there’s no need to worry if your brass turns green since the oxide buildup can easily be removed with many household cleaners. Still, it’s better to polish your brass regularly rather than wait for it to become tarnished.
How to Clean Brass With Toothpaste
To clean brass with toothpaste, make sure you use a simple toothpaste, as we mentioned earlier. Avoid geld-based toothpaste as it won’t give you the desired results.
Also, toothpaste will usually clean tarnished brass, but it may not be as effective if the brass is very heavily tarnished.
Follow these steps to clean brass with toothpaste:
- Apply a layer of toothpaste to the brass. Use your finger or a Q-tip to spread the toothpaste evenly on the brass object’s surface.
- Let the toothpaste sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe off the toothpaste. If the dirt isn’t coming off, you can rub the toothpaste slightly but avoid applying too much pressure as it may scratch the brass. Also, avoid using abrasive cloths like towels.
- If your brass is heavily tarnished and doesn’t clean with a cloth, use a soft toothbrush to gently clean the brass before wiping off the toothpaste.
- Use a paper towel to wipe off the toothpaste residue.
- Wash with warm water and dry the brass immediately with a clean cloth.
While whitening toothpaste that contains hydrogen peroxide will clean the brass much faster, avoid using it for antique brass objects.
Other Ways to Clean Brass
While toothpaste is a great option for cleaning and polishing brass, it may not work for heavily tarnished brass. You’ll also have to use a lot of toothpaste if you have a larger brass item, and it can be time-consuming.
Here are some alternative ways to clean brass:
Commercial Brass Cleaners
Nowadays, it’s easy to find brass cleaners in almost any department store. Brass cleaners (on Amazon) or general metal cleaners are designed to remove the oxides from the brass’s surface and give it a polished look. Most come in powder form, which can be mixed with water to form a paste.
While these specialized brass cleaners are the best solution for cleaning expensive brass items, they’re often expensive and may not be available everywhere.
When nothing else works, most people resort to using vinegar as a cleaner. However, you have to be careful which vinegar you use as some types of vinegar may dull certain metals.
Apple cider vinegar (on Amazon) works best for cleaning mildly tarnished brass. You can use white vinegar if the brass is heavily tarnished.
Dip the brass item in the vinegar for an hour or two and use a microfiber cloth to remove the dirt. Once the brass is cleaned, rinse it with warm water and dry it thoroughly.
While vinegar is one of the best brass cleaners, it’s not suitable for larger brass items that you can’t submerge in the vinegar.
Tomato ketchup is another great brass cleaner — and one that many people swear by. It’s surprisingly effective since it contains vinegar, salt, and other chemicals that remove the tarnish from brass surfaces.
You can use tomato ketchup the same way you would use toothpaste, but don’t use a rough cloth or scrubber to rub the ketchup on the brass surface to avoid scratches.
Yes, you’ve read that right! Onion juice can be used to clean and polish lightly tarnished brass, and it’s surprisingly effective too.
Chop some onions and boil them in water for about 30 minutes. Use the onion water to polish tarnished brass. You’ll be surprised at the quality shine you can get out of your brass with this mixture.
Lemon and Baking Soda
This is another favorite DIY cleaning solution that’s used to clean everything from windows to brass.
Mix some lemon juice with baking soda to form a paste. Rub the paste on the brass surface, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and wipe it off with paper towels or a clean cloth.
This solution is great for cleaning heavily tarnished brass, and you can even substitute lemon juice for vinegar.