Cleaning weather beaten brass fixtures is not difficult; however the brass can be damaged in the cleaning process so be careful. If your brass object is an antique or valuable item you may not want to clean it. Tarnish will stop any further oxygenation and helps to preserve the object, you can always clean it at a future time when you are going to sell it or show it off.
Brass and Steel
Brass coatings are often used on objects to give them a decretive look. It is easy to wear through a thin brass coating so you need to know if you have a solid brass object or steel coated with brass. If you see rust on your object it is steel coated with brass. You can use a magnet to determine if you are dealing with solid brass or brass covered steel. A magnet will not attach to brass so if the magnet sticks to your object you are dealing with steel covered with brass. If the object is brass covered steel you will need steel wool to remove the rust. After removing the rust you may need to paint the object to restore the look.
Cleaning your Brass
There are many ways to clean brass but always start by wiping the object with a clean dry cloth. If the tarnish comes off easily buff the object with another clean dry cloth and you are done. If you need to, use soapy water to clean the object. Brass that is simply dirty but not tarnished will respond well to soap and water. Use a mild detergent and a clean cloth to wash the object. You can use an old tooth brush to clean tough spots and hard to reach areas. Rinse all soap residues from the object and wipe it dry, do not let the object air dry. Once it is dry use another clean dry cloth to buff the brass until it shines.
If you need a stronger method for cleaning your brass object use lemon juice and salt. Rub the lemon juice and salt mixture on the brass with a cloth. Let it sit for a half hour so the juice salt mixture has a chance to work. Then wipe the object off with a clean dry cloth and buff it with another clean dry cloth until the brass is shinny. An alternative to salt is baking soda. Mix lemon juice with baking soda to make a paste and smear it on your brass object. Let it sit foe a half hour then wipe it off with warm water and a clean cloth and buff the brass until it shines with another clean cloth.
Condiments that you have in your refrigerator, such as ketchup and Worcestershire sauce are also good for cleaning brass. Apply a small portion of the condiment to a clean cloth and rub it on the brass. Keep rubbing until the condiment disappears into the cloth and then wipe the brass clean with another clean cloth. Salt, vinegar and flour are a good cleaning combination. Mix equal parts of all three ingredients into a paste, apply to the brass with your fingers. Let the object sit with the paste for an hour, then rinse the object off with warm water to remove all of the paste and buff it with a clean cloth until it shines.
Brass fixtures such as faucets need to be cleaned often to keep them looking good. Use ammonia to clean brass fixtures once a week at least. Spray the ammonia on the fixture and then wipe with a clean dry cloth to make the fixture clean and shinny.