Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News Editorials & Other Articles General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(34,162 posts)
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:32 PM Jan 2021

Need advice on polishing brass items

I have a bunch of smallish (under 8" tall) brass (and some other metals) statuettes that have been in storage for years. Most are just slightly tarnished but a few have some green and white corrosion. None are valuable, most were found at thrift shops or discount places.

I need advice on cleaning them up. I looked online and found three routes to polishing them.

First - Bar Keep's Friend, liquid version. The woman in the video I saw said was really easy to do using a soft cloth and it did look easy but I am not sure if she edited the video to cut out the hard parts.

Second - white vinegar, salt and aluminum foil. The acidity of the vinegar with salt allows some sort of electrolysis action with the foil. I tried that out tonight since I had those in the house. It worked, but it took a lot of scrubbing to get the black coating that the process leaves. My hands can't take that. In fact by the time I got to the fourth little horse I tested it on, I just couldn't finish so it's still a little tarnished. It did get the corrosion off.

Third - Dremel polishing pads with a polishing compound. I have a Dremel with some polishing pads but no polishing compound. I was real tempted to try the pads on the horse that I couldn't finish without using a polishing compound but was too tired to deal with it. None of the local stores carry the recommended polishing compound and I have on hold an Amazon order with polishing compound and a set of various sized and shaped polishing pads - my Dremel set only has flat, round ones. I'd have to invest about $25 to get both things.

I have maybe a couple of dozen brass horses, then some iron ones with minor rust and corrosion, so the Dremel is very tempting since it won't wear my hands out as much as hand polishing. Plus a couple are mounted on wooden bases so could not be dunked in the vinegar bath method and I am not sure I'd want to expose them to the Bar Keep's Friend.

Any other suggestions?

12 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies


(9,837 posts)
1. We used Brasso on belt buckles and such in the Army
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:35 PM
Jan 2021

but they're small and relatively flat, so I don't know how it would work on brass horses, but I can testify that it really makes buckles *sparkle*


(34,162 posts)
3. Oh - I used to use that on thge brass fittings on my horse tack
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:38 PM
Jan 2021

Then they got into making the fittings out of stainless steel and I stopped worrying about polishing - just rinse them off and they are good to go.

I'll put that on my shopping list with the Bar Keep's Friend stuff. Thanks!


(34,162 posts)
6. Flitz is what the guy in the polishing with a Dremel used and recommended
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:49 PM
Jan 2021

He also showed using the red stuff (rouge?) that Dremel provided in a kit and some green polishing compound, but he liked Flitz best.


(9,527 posts)
8. Flitz will work with a soft cloth, too. Renaissance wax
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:53 PM
Jan 2021

will do light cleaning, and it’s also a great way to deter tarnish, although it’s a little expensive.


(34,162 posts)
10. I just added Renaissance Wax to my shopping list
Wed Jan 20, 2021, 12:33 AM
Jan 2021

I want this to be the last time in my lifetime that I have to clean these things. Plus, I have other horse statuettes in my collection that are of materials they list that could use some less aggressive cleaning and protection.



(31,758 posts)
5. I used Brasso
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:44 PM
Jan 2021

with a soft (used) toothbrush. Gently scrub...rinse with hot water (again using the toothbrush to remove residue) and then repeat. In really hard spots I would let the Brasso dry for an hour or so and then rinse.

When done, wipe with a clean, soft cloth.

I haven't tried the Dremel pads, but that's probably a good option.


(34,162 posts)
7. As I said, doing it by hand is too much for my old hands
Tue Jan 19, 2021, 11:52 PM
Jan 2021

I'd rather save them for doing my needlework.

I also have some other metal items that are not brass and some things that are mounted on wooden bases, so I'm thinking Flitz with the Dremel would be safer than anything that needs rinsing and especially might need soaking like the vinegar method. I can tape off the wood parts when polishing with the Dremel to protect the wood.


(3,272 posts)
9. I can testify as a bartender who has polished
Wed Jan 20, 2021, 12:24 AM
Jan 2021

the brass beer towers at least 590 times, Bartenders Friend is great stuff. It will clean off the corrosion, and is as easy as the video suggests. If it’s real bad, may have to apply a bit more elbow grease, but it works rreeaaaalllly well.


(34,162 posts)
11. I'm going to try it first
Wed Jan 20, 2021, 12:34 AM
Jan 2021

Maybe use the Dremel polishing pad with the more stubborn spots to save my hands. One major advantage is I can get it locally!

Latest Discussions»Culture Forums»DIY & Home Improvement»Need advice on polishing ...