As we continue to document the restoration of our home, we constantly discover new thinks like this one today – how to clean mid-century brass lights. It’s not exactly at the top of the to-do list, however we are working on the deck area and it was one of the eye sores. Also not 100% a factor for documenting what we are doing to this house, but we know other people might like to learn about this process as some current day homes also have brass lighting. The process is really simple and can be used regardless if it is an exterior light or some other type of brass fixture inside your home. This process is also a test as at some point, I will need to disasemble our Mid-Century Modern Sputnik chandelier to clean it.
Get to know Brass
Brass, a gold-colored (sometimes rose gold when dirty) metal alloy made from copper and zinc. Brass is used to make lighting fixtures, doorknobs and all type of products that typically show a bright appearance. Brass will tarnish, blacken and dull when exposed to just about anything. Even just the plain oxygen we breath. That is known as oxidation. I have solid shells from the Navel Destroyer my dad served on. They need to be polished at least once a year if not more to maintain their luster. Today, we will return the bright finish on one of our outdoor brass lights using common household products. Even older mid-century brass lights can come clean in minutes.
Brass protective coating
Some Mid-Century Brass lights have coatings on them like a clear coat known as a lacquered finish. This protects the brass from the elements and will keep the light a shinny gold for years. This coating (especially on outdoor lights) is most likely gone after 10-15 years. Our lights are a perfect example of this surface breaking down.
Brass Cleaning Tips
I tried to clean these lights with many types of polish and cleaners. Due to the severe oxidation or old lacquer finish (not sure which as it was so dirty) it needed to be cleaned and any material on the surface removed. I started with a simple washing it in the sink and then used some 3M scrub pads (so I did not damage the surface). It really did not matter at the end of the day. Even if I broke out my drill with polishing pads on them (which I highly recommend for many jobs in the kitchen and bathroom) soaking worked the best in our situation. IF you don’t see immediate success with various cleaner just stop and go buy a gallon of vinegar.
How to Clean Mid-Century Brass Lights
Let’s get started – here is what you need!
Total Time Needed:
– Baking Soda
– Various brushes
– Steel Wool, 00 Very Fine
– Dish-washing liquid
Before and After Cleaning a Mid-Century Brass Light.
For all needed supplies this one is pretty cheap – around $25
Thank you for stopping by, we hope this tip will help you in restoring your home and any projects you have for cleaning brass items. While they do take a little bit of maintenance and care they are unique and I hope you cherish them like our family does. We appreciate the support and interest in our little home and family.
Until next time!