DIY Eco-Friendly Brass Tarnish Remover

In my recap of my visit to Ft. Worth Vintage Market Days, I ended with a little teaser as to what the third and final item was that I purchased at the event.  If you guessed that it was the brass clock…

Fort Worth Vintage Market Days

You’d be close, but wrong.  I reeeeaallllly wanted that clock, but they were asking well more than I wanted to spend.  The brass-rimmed wicker bowls, however…

Brass and Wicker Bowls

Were priced oh so right.  Here’s a better (non-phone-in-dark-lighting) picture of them.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

They were marked at around $7 each, and I ended up walking with all three of them for a cool $12 plus tax.  I love the rustic, sort of primitive look to them.  Problem was, they were pretty tarnished.  Most store bought tarnish removers on the market have a ton of chemicals in them, so I decided to go the au naturel (aka safer and cheaper) route.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

I tried three different methods, and I’m here to share ’em all with you!  It’s like a Goldilocks (Brassilocks?) Cleaning Story.  Come along.

Supply List:

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Lemons
  • Frog Tape
  • Rubber gloves (both to protect my hands from the mixtures and protect the brass from the natural oil that hands produce)

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover


They got the frog tape treatment in an effort to protect the wicker from the cleaners I used.  If you’re thinking that it seems difficult to tape these guys with massive man-hands like mine, you’re correct.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

“Too Hot”

First up, the square bowl.  For this, I mixed a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar with a couple of tablespoons of baking soda.  Just like it would in an elementary school chemistry lesson, the mixture fizzed up and made me feel like a mad scientist.  I didn’t measure exactly, just used enough to make a paste.  I put the mixture on a soft tea towel and buffed the rim in little circles all the way around.  Thirty minutes and a bit of elbow grease later, I was pretty pleased with the results.  Check out how much better it looks than the other two.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

“Too Cold”

This time around I used the juice of half of a lemon and baking soda.  This mixture was also fizzy, but smelled much better than the vinegar mixture.  No measuring involved, I just used enough of each ingredient to make a paste.  I used the same method of dipping a soft tea towel into the mixture and buffing in little circles.  This bowl (granted it’s the largest) clocked in at around an hour and this method took a LOT more effort.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

My hands were cramping so badly by the end, I looked like I was repping some sort of gang.  The results, however, looked much better than the vinegar method.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

“Just Right”

The third and final method was super easy, and produced the very best result.  I cut a lemon in fourths, sprinkled some salt on the lemon and rubbed it around the rim of the small round bowl.  I applied little to no pressure, and in under five minutes, the tarnish disappeared completely and the brass had a beautiful shine to it.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

I did a lil’ bad photoshop to put the before and after together so you can see just how dramatically different the after really is.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

Of course I had to use this treatment on the other two bowls as well and damned if they aren’t one of my favorite $12 purchases in the history of ever.

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

And what does a lemon cost, like 10 cents?  My wallet loves me.  I got so excited about the finished product that I started writing this post immediately.  Seriously I haven’t even decided where I’m going to put them yet…  One last bit of before + after action:

diy eco friendly brass tarnish remover

So the next time you’re staring at that tarnished brass whatever in your house, grab a lemon and some table salt and treat yourself to this super simple, satisfying polishing technique!

What are your favorite DIY / eco-friendly ways to clean?  Do tell…


2 responses to “DIY Eco-Friendly Brass Tarnish Remover

  1. hi Jamie,
    Would you be interested in selling the three piece set?

  2. Thank yoou for sharing

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