Cleaning Bronze

by Emily McBride
(last updated February 8, 2010)

Many people have bronze in their houses, whether they have bronze trophies, bronze decorations, or bronze furniture. Bronze can look nice, but because it is a copper alloy, it is also a metal that reacts when exposed to moisture and air (this process is called oxidation). If you do not take the time to clean and polish your bronze, it will start looking dull and green. The most famous example of a metal alloy turning green is the Statue of Liberty—the famous American landmark made of copper is now green instead.

There are many homemade polishes that you can choose from to clean your bronze as well. Before you start, it is best to rinse off or wipe down your bronze articles. This will get rid of any dust or other particles that could get in the way of your polishing.

  • Vinegar, flour and salt: In a small dish, combine equal parts of salt and flour. Then, make it into a paste by adding vinegar. Apply the paste all over the bronze. Let it sit for thirty minutes before you wash off the vinegar paste with water. Use a soft cloth to dry and buff it until it shines. Make sure that you dry it thoroughly so that the remaining water won't tarnish the bronze.
  • Lemon and baking soda: In a small dish, squeeze some lemon juice and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Add enough lemon juice that it makes a light paste. With a soft cloth, rub this mixture onto the bronze. You should keep rubbing until it is as clean as you want it to be. Let the paste sit for thirty minutes. Then, wash off the mixture with water. Use another soft cloth to dry and buff it until it shines.

The soft cloth works well if your bronze is smooth, but if your bronze has a lot of crevasses or small spots, it will be hard to polish with a cloth. For those areas, dip a toothbrush into the mixture and scrub with that. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush so that it will not damage the rest of the bronze. If your bronze is still greenish, repeat It is wise to use gloves while you are polishing the bronze—some of the chemicals used are harsh and could hurt your skin. Do not polish your bronze too frequently or the shine will wear away.

These home remedies should clean your bronze thoroughly. If you want your bronze even shinier, you can use a manufacturer's bronze cleaner. Make sure that you follow the directions on the label.

Author Bio

Emily McBride

A senior majoring in English and editing at BYU, Emily hopes to enter the field of professional editing upon graduation. Emily has done humanitarian work in Africa and studied in London. She enjoys blogging, foreign films, and playing the piano. ...


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