plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Green Residue During Cleaning of Brass Bed
September 7, 2008
The antique brass bed that I slept in as a child spent 30 years in my mother's garage. As you can imagine, it got pretty tarnished. I dug it out recently and started cleaning it for my 6-year-old daughter (who calls it the "princess bed.") I was uncertain about the commercial cleaners, so I tried boiled Linseed Oil [affil. link] followed by several applications of salt-and-vinegar paste. That got a lot of the tarnish off. Then, after some more research, I tried Simichrome, which got off yet more tarnish.
Now there's a green residue in some of the intricate parts of the design, and I'm not sure 1) exactly what it is, and 2) how to get it off. I'm worried that it's corrosion caused by the salt and vinegar, which I might not have washed off thoroughly enough. What should I do? And what should I do to keep the bed in good shape from this point on? I'd like my daughter to be able to pass it down to her children some day.
Thanks very much for your help.
amateur! - Washington, D.C.
September 18, 2008
Hi, Jennifer. If the bed is magnetic, it's brass plated and the plating will have a limited life, so stop. If it's not magnetic, it's probably solid brass and you can keep going. Although vinegar plus salt is mild to people, it's exceptionally aggressive to brass -- far more so than commercial brass polishes. You should try to get rid of those acidic remnants by cleaning the recesses with Simichrome (or another polish) on Q-tips.
After the bed is the way you want it, you need to spray it with brass lacquer [affil link] to keep it from immediately tarnishing. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey