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Can You Use Vinegar on Brass? (All You Need to Know)

It’s normal for items made of brass to lose their gleam and get tarnished when they are exposed to oxygen or come into contact with oils from your skin.

However, you simply can restore the sheen of brass-made items just by using a few kitchen ingredients.

And since vinegar being a useful kitchen ingredient always comes to mind first while cleaning any item, you may wonder if you can use it on tarnished brass-made items too or not. Thus, let’s take a look at the findings explained ahead to know the answers. 

Using Vinegar On Brass 

Vinegar can be used on tarnished brass-made items to restore the lost gleam from the brass surfaces. It’s because the acidity of vinegar effectively acts against the chemical effect that happened between oxygen and exposed brass surfaces to cause the tarnish. Try to use lab-made vinegar on brass.

Since it’s more strongly recommended to use acetic vinegar to clean to eliminate tarnish from brass, naturally it will raise a question in your mind about which acetic vinegar is the best suited to be used on brass.

Therefore, here it has been shortly discussed that if these 3 common acetic vinegar- apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, and distilled vinegar can be used on brass or not. 

White Vinegar:

You totally can use white vinegar on brass-made things either to clean them or remove tarnish from them.

In fact, white vinegar is the one acetic vinegar that almost all experts have suggested to use if anyone wants to clean brass by themselves.

White vinegar has the most potential to remove tarnish and bring back the lost gleam of brass, thus, using it means you’ll just turn the old brass item into a brand new thing. 

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar is another common vinegar that contains acetic acid.

However, there’s a controversy about the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar on brass-made items, as some people stated that apple cider vinegar helped them to clean tarnished brass, whereas some have said apple cider vinegar isn’t much of a help in cleaning or removing tarnish from brass.

But most times, it was a success using apple cider vinegar on brass, so use it on brass first and wait for the outcome. 

Distilled Vinegar:

Distilled vinegar also can be used on brass. It contains less acetic acid than white vinegar.

Thus, whoever wants to use a less acetic acid vinegar, you can choose distilled white vinegar instead of white vinegar, and it will work as effectively as the white vinegar.

However, it’s a suggestion that you better try to use white vinegar on bras instead of distilled vinegar for a better outcome.  

Is Vinegar Corrosive To Brass?

Vinegar isn’t corrosive to brass, in fact, it’s relatively a safer and cheaper alternative when it comes to cleaning the brass surface and dissolving its tarnish.

Besides, brass is solid, thus, it will not soak up the vinegar, thereby, there isn’t any chance of vinegar being corrosive to brass. 

However, if you are using vinegar on a lacquered brass item, it can strip off the protective layer from the brass. But you can use vinegar on unlacquered brass items without any worry, it won’t cause any harm to the brass.

How Long Do You Leave Brass In Vinegar? 

How long should you leave brass in vinegar depend on how heavily the brass is tarnished.

If the brass is tarnished, leaving it for 10 minutes in vinegar paste is enough but if it’s heavily tarnished, you may have to leave it for as much as 1 hour. 

And if you are soaking brass in vinegar-water solution, you have to leave the brass item for 2 hours before buffing it to its natural shine. 

How Do You Clean Brass With Vinegar?

Cleaning brass-made items with vinegar is an easy task. However, a step-by-step guide is explained below to guide you while cleaning brass using vinegar. 

Things you will be needing: 

  • Vinegar (Acetic vinegar is recommended) 
  • Salt 
  • Flour 
  • Microfiber cloth

Find Out If The Brass Is Lacquered Or Not: 

First, check if the brass item you want to clean with vinegar is lacquered or unlacquered. If the brass item is lacquered, it won’t be tarnished and will have a clean layer of protection covering it. If the brass item is not lacquered, it will be tarnished. 

Prepare Ingredients: 

For Non-lacquered Brass:

You will be needing vinegar, salt, and white flour (if you don’t have flour, use baking soda). The acidity of vinegar and sodium of salt together acts to clean non-lacquered brass. 

For Lacquered Brass:

Take white vinegar and water in 2:2 proportion, and ¼ part of salt. 

Clean The Brass Item: 

Non-Lacquered Brass:

Take an equal portion of salt and white flour in a bowl and add vinegar to it. Mix them together until it becomes a spreadable paste with a thick consistency.

Then, use a microfiber cloth to apply the paste to the brass surface, rub gently and cover all the areas, mainly the smudged and stained ones.

After that let the paste rest on the brass surface for 1 hour. Use a wet cloth to remove the paste from the brass to make it clean. 

Lacquered Brass:

Boil water, vinegar, and salt together. Dip the brass item completely in the boiling water-vinegar solution and let it rest there for 2 hours. Then take the brass item out and rinse under clean water, it should clean the brass. 

Buff The Brass: 

Whether it’s lacquered or unlacquered brass, after rinsing air dry fully. Then use a sold cloth to buff the brass item to shine.

What Is The Best Cleaner To Use On Brass?

Since several commercial and homemade brass cleaners/cleaning methods are available now, so it might be a little confusing for you to know which cleaners most effectively work on brass without damaging it.

Thus, for your convenience, some best commercial brass cleaners and homemade cleaning methods/cleaners have been listed below. 

Commercial Brass Cleaners 

Brasso Metal Polish: 

Brasso Metal Polish is one of the best store-bought cleaners to clean and polish any brass-made item.

It actively acts to remove the tarnish from the brass. Apply an adequate amount on a clean, dry, and soft cloth, and gently rub and lather it on the brass surface.

After covering the item, use another fresh and dry cloth to remove the cleaner and bring back the sheen. 

Weiman Brass Polish: 

Weiman brass polish is an ammonia-free brass cleaner and it’s another best brass cleaner recommendation for you.

It effectively cleans and removes tarnish from pieces made of brass, as well as it helps the brass-made items to look brand new again like before. Also, no need to scratch brass with Weiman Brass Polish. 

Homemade Brass Cleaners

Tomato Ketchup/Tomato Sauce/Tomato Paste: 

To your surprise, tomato ketchup and tomato sauce that you enjoy with your fries, as well as tomato paste work amazingly in cleaning tarnished brass items.

The acidity of tomatoes in ketchup, sauce, or paste effortlessly eliminates tarnish from the brass surfaces leaving the item polished as before. 

Lather a layer of ketchup, sauce, or paste on the brass surface, then let it rest for 1 hour, and lastly wash using soapy water and dry using a clean cloth. 

Lemon & Salt: 

Another effective homemade brass cleaner is the combination of lemon and salt, as the acidity in lemon cleans the tarnished brass items wonderfully. Just take a lemon and cut it into half, and coat the half-cut lemon with 1tsp of table salt.

Then rub the lemon piece on the tarnished brass surface and squeeze the lemon to release juice while rubbing. Once done covering/rubbing, rinse using warm water, and dry using a dry cloth. 

Lemon And Baking Soda: 

Lemon and baking soda is a dynamic duo and natural cleaner that cleans tarnished brass items effortlessly. 

Take half of a lemon’s juice and mix 1tsp baking soda with it until it turns into a paste. Then use a soft clean cloth to apply the paste onto the brass surface, and leave the paste for half an hour if it’s heavy tarnish.

After that buff to the gleam, rinse using warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.

Warm Soap Water: 

The simplest homemade brass cleaner is warm soapy water. First, mix a few drops of soap with warm water, then soak your brass items in it for a couple of seconds.

Take it out, with a microfiber cleaning cloth go all over the brass surface, and use an old toothbrush to clean in crevices. Lastly, wash with warm water and dry the brass items.

Final Thoughts 

Vinegar produced in a lab-acetic acid combined with water can be used on brass to remove tarnish from its surface as it contains acid that actively counteracts the brass buildup caused by the oils from human skin or oxidation. Using vinegar on brass items helps to regain the natural sheen of brass.