How to make brass and pewter sparkle and shine

Bring lustre back to the pewter and brass items that adorn your home. With a couple of tricks up your sleeve, you can revive your objets d'art, doors and window latches.

How to make brass and pewter sparkle and shine

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc characterized by its gold-like colour and shine. Pewter is a soft, heavy metal, with a shiny silver-gray surface that is vulnerable to scratches. Both metals can be kept gleaming with a variety of traditional methods.

Pewter

  • Clean pewter with horsetail. Just drop a handful of the herb into a bowl with one litre (four cups) of water and one teaspoon (five millilitres) of vinegar, then submerge the item. Leave it overnight to do its work. Let it dry and polish.
  • Rub your pewter with the outer leaves of a head of cabbage and rinse it with clear water. Finally, treat the surface with a cut piece of leek and rinse again. You may want to wear some nose plugs for this cleaning job.
  • Remove heavy dirt by immersing your pewter object in a glass or bowl of warm beer and scrubbing it with a soft nailbrush.
  • De-wax pewter candlesticks by freezing them and flaking off the wax. If any wax remains, melt it with a blow-dryer set to hot, and carefully wipe away any excess wax.

Brass

  • Wipe brass items with a damp chamois cloth. To clean it thoroughly, use a vinegar paste. Stir together equal parts vinegar, salt and flour, and spread it on the brass. Let it work for a while, wash it off and buff.
  • Rub away corrosion with a mixture of 500 millilitres (two cups) of buttermilk and 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of salt. Rub it repeatedly and forcefully over the corroded spots until they disappear; rinse and polish with a soft cloth.
  • Create a beautiful shine by rubbing your brass with the cut surface of a potato, then buff.
  • Eliminate verdigris with a solution of 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of salt in about 25 millilitres (two tablespoons) of ammonia. Using gloves, dip a rag into the solution and rub onto the brass object, then wash it off.
  • Retard tarnish and brighten brass by rubbing it with a cloth moistened with a dab of olive oil after each polishing.
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