Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Metal Polishing Products and Secrets

This post is on the fly this morning. Running late for an office meeting.
Yesterday I polished this antique copper coal scuttle. Last time it was polished during my stewardship? Never! I left the inside unpolished. I use this for storing old magazines. It's really a fireplace item but I don't have room for it there.

I polished all of my brass candlesticks and trivets. First I spray down the item with Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day multi-surface. Then I dip my dampened cleaning rag or sponge into some Bar Keepers Friend cleanser which I have in a shallow bowl. The rest is magic. The spray loosens the tarnish and the cleanser dissolves it before your very eyes. Wipe and buff. For really old tarnish keep spraying and dipping and rubbing. No need to wipe it all off until you are finished with the entire item. 

For horizontal surfaces like switch plates you will have to soak your rag in the liquid (just the part wrapped around your finger) and wipe over the tarnish first. Then do the second step. I used a Q-tip when I was polishing an engraved brass plate on the top of a cellarette without ruining the wood.

Just experiment. You will be amazed. Handle the powder with care. It's powerful stuff and is probably quite dangerous. But it's been around since 1882 and hasn't been recalled yet. I don't plan on using it every day so I don't think it will kill me before I'm finished. 

I got this "Radish" Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day spray at TJMaxx because this "scent" has been discontinued. I'm sure almost any multi-surface spray will work; this is just what I had on hand. I polished all of my silver trophies using this method and nothing got scratched. You can probably make a paste using these two products as well to "dissolve" the powder if you are afraid of scratching. All of my things are antiques and have already been around the block so I wasn't worried.

Good luck. I think I have hunted down almost everything tarnished in my cottage except for my copper pots and my antique andirons. I will tackle them soon. I spread a small tarp on my kitchen table to do the coal scuttle. For the smaller items, I used a folded turkish towel on my kitchen counter near the sink and rinsed under running water before drying and buffing, Just play around and see what works for you. You can also "rinse" small items in a dishpan full of water and keep using it for that purpose. You can soak heavily tarnished brass candlesticks overnight in this solution for really easy cleaning the next day.


Mama Pea said...

Thank you for sharing the useful tips. Sounds do-able!

JudyMac said...

Definitely need to make notes, Rosemary. Would your cleaning method be appropriate for cleaning the kick plate on my entrance door, which I believe is brass? Doorknobs, also (of course, without removing from the door)? For anyone where there is one, a variety of Mrs Meyers products can be found at the Ace Hardware stores, and I believe also Whole Foods carries a few also. When I finish my painting project, The time may be right to tackle the kick plate. 😁

Content in a Cottage said...

JudyMac -- This should work beautifully on your brass kick
plate. If it is tarnished, chances are it's not lacquered. Will definitely work on brass door knobs too without having to remove them.
Good luck with your painting project. Then onward to metal polishing.
xo, Rosemary

Content in a Cottage said...

Mama Pea ~ Yes. Very do-able. I am living proof!
I would still be working on that scuttle if I were using my old metal polishing tubes, jars, cans, and bottles of which II have a box full. No more though. I have seen the light.
xo, Rosemary

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Thank you. Would this also work on silver?

Content in a Cottage said...

La Via Quotidenne ~~ Yes. See my previous post about silver.
xo, Rosemary

Barb said...

Bar Keeper's Friend contains oxalic acid, naturally found in spinach and brassicas (cabbage) among many other vegetables. The concentrations in Bar Keeper's Friend are higher than occurs in nature, but still not harmful unless you plan on eating it. Perfectly safe to use.

Content in a Cottage said...

Barb ~~ Thank you for this information. One of my friends cautioned me about using this product because of the oxalic acid and I researched it myself. Some of the sites said to exercise extreme caution when using the powder and others said it wasn't bad at all. I wear rubber gloves and I definitely don't eat it. I grew up with a mother who enjoyed housework on a recreational level. She inhaled a lot of ammonia and I can still remember her stripping wax from the hardwood floors each spring using gasoline. She and her friends bought it at the gas station and they said it was white gasoline but they called it Varsol or something like that. She and her sisters used to make homemade furniture polish by cooking raw linseed oil and vinegar on the stove. Yikes, I can't believe she didn't burn down the houses we lived in. She lived to be 92 and most of the ingredients in the old cleaning products are outlawed now. I figured BKF was okay since it is still on the market. I am going to use it when I wash my windows too. xo, Rosemary

Tricia said...

Wonderful tips. AND, your home is just beautiful - every sparkling inch of it.

The Queen Vee said...

I use BKF on my stainless steel sink, never tried it on brass. Everything in your cottage looks so sparkly and beautiful. I hope you wore gloves, I'm sure you did, those cleaning supplies are so hard on one's hands. You are always so busy....me too.

Stacey Snacks said...

I am bringing my silver, copper and stainless pots & pans over, so you can polish them for me!!! You are a polishing machine lately!