Bronze has a charming, warm glow that shines through when created into jewelry and household décor accessories like cabinet hardware, a bronze statue, candlesticks, and more that are all resistant to water damage.
Bronze develops a greenish patina over time, which is not surprising given that bronze is a copper alloy made up mainly copper at 88 percent and 12 percent tin.
While some people love the patina because it delivers a sense of antiquity, many prefer to restore bronze to its original shine, even if it’s only a few years old.
Fortunately, you don’t need any stinky or potentially caustic chemicals to clean and polish bronze; in fact, you can accomplish it with just a few common household materials.
In our guide, you can learn all you need about how to remove oxidation from bronze statuary and get rid of the darkened finish to make them look as if they were new. (Learn How To Clean Gold Jewelry)
By the end, you’ll see how one or two basic homemade polishes can prevent the need to head off to specialized stores to purchase expensive commercial polishes.
Does Vinegar Clean Bronze?
Here you can find one of the best ways to clean a bronze statue or smaller bronze pieces you may have as jewelry.
You will find it is a highly effective way to polish bronze, yet it can take some effort how to polish bronze to the finish you desire.
Cleaning Bronze with Vinegar, Flour, and Salt
Things you need:
- Table salt
- White vinegar
- Olive oil
- Rubber gloves
- Soft-bristled toothbrush
- Soft clean cloth
Rinse your bronze pieces under warm water to remove dust. Dry the bronze piece with a clean, soft cloth.
In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of table salt and two tablespoons of white flour.
Drip white vinegar into the bowl, mixing until soft paste forms.
Wear your rubber gloves and use your fingers or soft-bristled toothbrush to rub the polishing pastes into the bronze surface. Rub in a small circular motion to work the paste across the entire surface of the metal, including crevices.
Let the paste sit on the bronze for an hour, minimum.
Use warm water and rinse the paste off the metal and remove any residue.
Dry the bronze using a soft, clean cloth.
Apply one or two drops of olive oil to a small polishing cloth to bring out its shine.
Keep Bronze Looking Its Best
- After cleaning bronze, you can maintain its luster with occasional polishing and these suggestions:
- Dust bronze statues, and if dust is thick, clean it with warm water, dry with a soft cloth and carry out more frequent polishing efforts to keep it clean.
- Keep out-of-sight bronze jewelry and valuables in sealed plastic bags to limit oxygen exposure and oxidation.
- Always use skin care products before wearing bronze jewelry.
- After each wear, remove your bronze jewelry and rub it with polishing cloths.
- Never wear bronze jewelry in a pool because chlorine wears the metal.
How Do You Remove Oxidation From Bronze?
Here is how you can get the bronze finish back to its former glory. Like other methods, it can take some elbow grease to rub the paste onto every nook and cranny of the greenish layer of your bronze. (Read Does Sterling Silver Tarnish)
Cleaning Bronze with Lemon Juice
Things you need:
- Soft cleaning rags or old white cotton tee shirt
- Lemon juice
- Baking soda
- Rubber gloves
- Olive oil
- Rinse your bronze under warm water to remove dust. Wipe the metal dry with a clean towel or rag.
- Add two tablespoons of baking soda to a small dish.
- Drip lemon juice onto the baking soda to form a thick paste similar to toothpaste.
- Wear gloves and, using a damp cloth, rub the cleaning paste over your bronze piece. Use an old toothbrush to rub the paste into any surface detail and cover the green patina.
- Using your polishing cloth or scrap of T-shirt, work your DIY bronze or brass polish rub repeatedly the paste onto the tarnished metal using small, circular motions. It is the circular motion that is the key removal step to remove the patina.
- Let the paste sit for half an hour on the bronze greenish coating.
- Rinse the bronze under warm water, rubbing with your fingers to remove the paste.
- Gently buff dry your bronze with a soft cloth. Don’t let air dry, or you could get water streaks.
- Apply two or three drops of olive oil to your rag and wipe a clear coat onto your clean bronze to show its shine.
How Do You Clean and Polish Old Bronze?
Here you can find the novel way of using a small dish of ketchup to clean your bronze.
- Place a bowl with ketchup and your bronze object. The amount of ketchup you need to use will vary based on the size of the object you’re polishing.
- Put on rubber gloves, and rub ketchup into the item with your fingertips, covering all surfaces.
- Pour a larger quantity of ketchup onto the bronze and spread it thinly across the entire surface for larger items.
- Allow the ketchup to sit on the bronze for 1 hour. (If the bronze appears tarnish-free, rinse off the ketchup.)
- Ketchup’s high vinegar and citric acid content will eat away at the tarnish.
The Polishing Process
Using hot water, rinse the bronze object. You can either run water over the bronze item or soak it in a hot water bath. The polishing paste is dissolved and removed from the bronze with the use of hot water, leaving you with a clean and polished surface.
While you’re rinsing the bronze, use your cleaning towel to wipe away any leftover polishing paste. Using a soft cloth, dry the bronze object. Allowing the bronze to remain wet will result in water stains.
Wear rubber or cotton gloves when drying off and handling bronze since body oils can make bronze dirty. (Learn How To Clean White Leather Purses)
If the patina appears to be dirty, repeat the polishing process. To restore the luster of the bronze, burnish it with a few drops of olive oil to produce a thin layer of protection.
Note: If your bronze items suffer from bronze disease, you will need advice on treating this with 5 percent or less sodium sesquicarbonate.