How to Remove Paint from Brass Hardware and Fixtures?

How to Remove Paint from Brass

You can often find brass fixtures, especially in older homes as it makes for a beautiful decoration.

In older residences, you may see window handles, locks, doorknobs, and vent covers made from brass.

It is the perfect metal for such jobs, especially given its toughness, durability, and beautiful appearance.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same love of brass which is why you often find such fixtures coated in paint.

When that happens, the natural color and effect of the brass fixtures are not present.

But it can be restored by removing the paint using the right materials, a little patience, and some elbow grease.

What follows are a few tips that will help you restore brass fixtures to their original state before they became coated with paint.

The one exception is brass screws as they should not be cleaned using the following technique.


Remove a few of the brass fixtures at a time and place them into a stainless steel or porcelain pan.

Do not use an aluminum pan as it may not react well to the substances that you will add.

Be sure the pan is one that you do not care much about as it will be tossed away after the job is done.

Open the windows and turn on a fan to get a good flow of air through the room.

Otherwise, you are going to be overwhelmed by the odor that will be generated by the next step.

Add White Vinegar

Pour white vinegar into the pan until the brass fixtures are covered.

Then place the pan over a stove burner and then turn on the burner.

Heat the pan until the vinegar reaches a slow boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

After a few minutes, the vinegar will soften the paint which will start to separate from the brass fixtures.

Once you see that occurring, remove the pan from the burner.

If the brass fixtures stay in the heat too long the plating may start to dissolve. This is especially true on plating that has been thinned over the years.

Remove & Scrub

Once the pan has been safely removed from the burner, use a pair of tongs and pull one piece out and place it on a newspaper.

Be sure to wear thick rubber gloves to prevent any chance of burning your hands.

Next, scrub the fixture using #2 steel wool.

For any areas that are hard to reach, you can use a wire brush, toothpick, or bamboo skewers.

When the first piece is done, set it aside on another piece of newspaper and fish out the next piece.

You should only have three or four pieces maximum in the pan.

Once you have cleaned all the pieces, you can put in some more and heat the vinegar up again to a slow boil, then simmer.

After all the pieces are cleaned, you can then polish the fixtures using Brasso.

When you are done with all the work, throw the pan away as the paint that covers the brass fixtures has a high likelihood of containing lead.

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