In case you haven’t figured this out yet: I like to save money and I like to make things pretty.
These two things usually don’t go very well together.
Lucky for me, they go hand in hand in this project!
When I shared the photo of my dresser the other day, I realized it could use a little fixing up.
The chipped paint and veneer is still a daunting project for me. I’m not sure how to get a swatch to color match the paint without accidentally removing more veneer, and further damaging my beautiful dresser. For now, let’s focus on that dingy hardware!!
I noticed that the top drawer knobs were a bright and shiny gold where I touched them daily, but the outside ones (and all the handles) were pretty black and gross.
I knew that any other DIYer would have pulled these puppies off immediately and spray painted them for an instant update. Unfortunately, my particular NYC apartment does not afford me the luxury of spray painting anything (for now). So, I took my dilemma to Google in hopes of finding a quick and easy way to clean brass (or what I was pretty sure was brass).
I knew I didn’t want to purchase a cleaning solution, so I hunted for “all-natural” brass cleaning ideas. Luckily, Google has a lot of ideas on how to naturally clean your hardware. I looked through my cupboards to assess my ingredients, and continued to search online until I found someone who had successfully cleaned their brass hardware with items I already had. I was not about to make the trek across the street and around the corner to the fancy grocery store. (I might have been having a lazy day – but I was saving money!!)
The “recipe” I ended up with was a mixture of salt, hot water, and vinegar (I tried both apple cider, and red wine).
Brass Cleaning Recipe:
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 cups hot water
- Clean hardware with dish soap and water on an old rag. (Don’t be afraid to really scrub).
- Combine ingredients and allow hardware to soak for 1-2 hours.
- Use a damp cloth to remove any dirt/tarnish that loosened during vinegar bath.
- Rinse and dry
The first time I made my cleansing solution, the knobs fit nicely in the bottom of the tupperware.
(The second time I made the same solution (for the drawer pulls), there wasn’t enough solution to cover the handles all the way, so I had to make a double batch. I was using free and inexpensive ingredients so it wasn’t a devastating turn of events).
Then, I let them sit for a few hours (meanwhile my apartment began smelling curiously similar to Easter Eggs – my husband LOVES that…not).
Here’s what they looked like after a good rub down with a damp towel!
Look at all that detail I didn’t even know I was missing!! (Just wait! The drawer pulls are even better!!)
Here are the drawer pulls before I did anything:
If you are feeling squeamish about putting your antique handles in the chemical concoction, I found that even the soap and water step was effective at improving the overall shine.
(Below, the bottom pull has been cleaned with soap and water and the top is in it’s original state).
Here are the AMAZING results following the cleaning solution, and a rinse and rub with the damp towel:
Are you dying? I am. I can’t believe all the beautiful detail that was lost underneath years of dirt and tarnish.
I have to say, I’m SO GLAD that I wasn’t able to spray paint these guys! My “quick fix” would have covered up the most interesting and beautiful part of this antique hardware! Come to think of it, this 1-2 hour soak was definitely cheaper than a can of spray paint and about the same amount of time as two coats of paint and drying time.
On the free and beautiful scale – this is my favorite D.I.Y. so far!!!