LET’S PLAY KETCHUP: NATURALLY CLEANING OLD BRASS HARDWARE

I know things have been a little quit on the blog lately, so I think it’s time that we ketchup. (Wait for it….wait for it…)

I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather lately by taking my projects outside and painting and priming all of the doors in the house. I like the character that these old doors bring to the party so rather than replacing them I’m giving them a fresh coat of white paint to lighten and brighten up the space. naturally cleaning old brass hardwareI think we all know how to paint a flat surface, so I won’t bore you with those details, but the one tip I will give you about painting wood surfaces, whether it’s doors, trim, paneling, etc., is to use a good oil based primer before applying coats of paint. (My go-to primer is this one.) This step will really save you a lot of time and money and help you avoid putting a million thick layers of paint on your wooden surfaces.

So, while I watched paint dry the paint was drying, I got to thinking about the other finishes I wanted on the doors. I had assumed that I would just buy new (probably black) knobs and hinges but the more I looked at the existing (original) hardware, the more my brain wheels started turning. Unfortunately, when I removed the knobs from the doors, they were so old that they really couldn’t be save and then re-installed. If they had been really cool old knobs I might have tried harder to save them but, to be honest, they weren’t worth the struggle in my mind so they will be replaced with new black knobs.

The hinges, on the other hand, were a different story. naturally cleaning old brass hardwareBefore you start calling me crazy, I know the current state of these old brass hinges are rough. They’re heavily tarnished and dirty and don’t look like much but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to save them. The thought of freshly painted crisp, white doors with shiny new/old original brass hinges made me irrationally excited.

With all of the paint, fumes, and other, let’s call it “accoutrement” that comes along with an ongoing home renovation, I wanted to go a more natural route when it came to de-tarnishing and cleaning the brass hinges. So, naturally, I headed to my pantry. naturally cleaning old brass hardwareI grabbed some white vinegar, ketchup and super fine steel wool that I had leftover from my dresser project and got to work on naturally cleaning these old brass hinges.

I wasn’t looking for a super shiny finish on the hinges, which is why I chose to use the ultra fine steel wool, but if you want to avoid dulling the metal, I would avoid using anything abrasive like this that may scratch or dull the surface a bit.

naturally cleaning old brass hardwareI threw all of the screws into some white vinegar and just let them set for about an hour. These guys are so small that I didn’t really plan to do much else to them. Once they sat for a while, I dumped them in a strainer and rinsed them off, leaving them to air dry on their own.

(P.S. You should you definitely use an old bowl or grab a cheap one from the thrift store that won’t be used with food for this project. You don’t want any of those brass particles lingering when you go to use the bowl for cooking.)naturally cleaning old brass hardwareI did the same with the hinges, letting them sit in the vinegar for an hour or so. Once they were good and soaked, I put on a pair of rubber gloves, squeezed a little ketchup on top (just like you would with dish soap on your dishes) and scrubbed with the steel wool.

You definitely need to put on a little pressure when scrubbing in order to really reveal that silky brass beneath but it doesn’t take long to see that prettiness coming through. naturally cleaning old brass hardwareAnd pretty soon, here’s what you get! I wanted to keep a little bit of that tarnish in places to give it a bit of an old with new feeling and bring out some of that old character in the hinges, but obvious, you can control that with you level of scrubbing. naturally cleaning old brass hardwareI think the before and after really speaks for itself and I’m so happy with my decision to refinish these hinges before painting or replacing them.

I’m excited to get the doors finished and dried and ready to re-install with these pretty ladies and you know I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop when that goes down ;)

Happy Hump Day!

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