How to Care for Copper & Brass Fixtures


Copper and brass fixtures are coming back in style. Complementary to many kitchen and bathroom designs, these classic fixtures provide a touch of warmth and elegance. And while copper and brass age well, they also require an added dose of TLC compared to other options.

With that in mind, let’s discuss the do’s and dont’s of proper brass and copper care.

Do: Be gentle.

Routine cleaning with a mild detergent and warm water is often enough to restore the sheen of copper or brass. Make sure you rinse and dry thoroughly.

Do: Know if the fixture is brass or brass-plated.

Plated fixtures can handle more frequent cleaning. To determine if a fixture is plated, perform the magnet test. A magnet won’t stick to true brass.

Do: Polish regularly.

Copper fixtures should be polished every 6 months. Brass fixtures can be buffed as often as once a month.

Do: Polish with care.

Use a soft cloth and an appropriate polish.

Do: Wear gloves.

Skin oils can hasten tarnishing.

Do: Apply a thin coat of mineral or linseed oil.

It can help delay the tarnishing process.

Don’t: Use abrasive cleaners.

Avoid steel wool and brushes with metal bristles. Opt instead for a microfiber cloth, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to dig into crevices.

Don’t: Scrub too hard.

Many copper and brass fixtures are lacquered to prevent tarnishing. Scrubbing too hard can take the topcoat off these lacquered fixtures.

Don’t: Underestimate the beauty of a patina.

Unlacquered copper and true brass fixtures will tarnish over time and develop a unique, natural sheen. This process can’t be prevented entirely, but it can be delayed by frequent polishing if you so desire.

Don’t: Rush brass

For tougher jobs, let the polish sit on brass fixtures for at least one hour before buffing.

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