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Ruined my brass cabinet handles with vinegar

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August 17, 2021

Q. I have an antique Chinese wedding cabinet with a traditional brass faceplate. I wanted to get rid of the musty smell inside, so sprayed it with a solution of vinegar and water. Somehow, some of the solution got onto the faceplate. It now has a bright spray/dribble pattern on the patinated brass. How can I make it go away?

LuAnn Parks
- Seattle Washington

Rockler Brass Darkening Solution

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August 2021

A. Hi LuAnn. Unfortunately you can't make "it" go away because it's not a stain on the patina, it's a removal of the patina. You can try "spot" re-patinating with brass darkening solution (but it's liable to be splotchy), or removing the patina and building a new one with the darkening solution.

Luck & Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Closely related historical posts, oldest first ...

October 20, 2010

hello, my name is lisa nugent and we just bought our first home and I took all the cabinet handles and drawer pulls off to wash the cabinets and then tried washing the brass handles and drawer pulls with a soft denture toothbrush in a solution of dishwashing soap, vinegar, baking soda, salt and a few drops of lemon juice. I thought these were all safe to use. well all my handles and the plates that go behind the handles are GREEN and so I'am going to try Brasso [affil link] and steel wool to remove that, does anyone know if that will work or any other suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated, thank-you, lisa


Lisa Nugent
hobbyist - Modesto, California

October 21, 2010

Hi, Lisa. Brasso is very slow but I think it will work if you are patient. Unfortunately there is a difference between what is safe and gentle for people versus what is safe and gentle for brass. Salt added to either vinegar or lemon juice is extremely aggressive to brass. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 21, 2010

My guess is the green is copper oxide, like the Statue of Liberty. People have had good experiences using citric acid to clean tarnished brass, probably what you have is a bigger job but citric acid may still be the way to go.

Let us know if we can help.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
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October 21, 2010

The damage which is created was from the use of salt and vinegar on the metals. The green on the plates is indeed cupric oxide which is the oxide equivalent to bronze/brass as rust on steel. The white 'crust' is damaged clear varnish found on the handles while it appears the plates were raw metal/ You will need to remove the clear varnish off the handles with varnish remover and buff with 0000 steel wool [affil. link] then re-spray with new clear varnish. As to the plates, burnish (buff) with the steel wool till all green is gone then spray with clear varnish to protect. You can call with questions

Barry Feinman
Barry Feinman
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

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