For some reason, though, the door hardware tarnish is out of control.
Warning: don't be mistaken; this is not a "small" project. Many hours later, my labor is complete.
I've never de-tarnished brass before, so I looked up some helpful how-to's in Home Comforts, a book my buddy Sam thoughtfully sent me when I started this blog. This book is great, and it has helped me in several areas already, which I'll highlight in later posts.
Home Comforts told me to:
1) mix equal parts white flour and salt (I used table salt) with enough white vinegar to make a paste. (Oh, white vinegar, is there anything you can't do?)
2) Apply the paste to your brass surface and let it sit for an hour.
3) Remove the paste using a rag, and you should notice that the brownish tint has been replaced by a rose tint that can then be polished using standard metal polish.
There unfortunately does not appear to be a good non-chemical metal polish out there. If you know of a home remedy, I'd love to hear about it! So, I purchased 8 ounces of Brasso at Home Depot for $3.49.
Our outdoor light fixture only required one coating of the homemade paste before it was de-tarnished, but this door hardware was especially stubborn and required two applications.
Here's the hardware before
And a close-up for purposes of comparison
Here's how the hardware looks when covered in the paste
Here's the hardware after one application of the paste
And all clean, many, many hours of polishing later
The before-and-after close up
Why didn't I just buy a new light fixture and new door hardware, or spray paint them black, and call it a day? Well, two reasons:
1) to be as green as possible, I generally try to operate under the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, and in this case both items are fine and fully functioning
2) apparently the only acceptable finish for light fixtures and door hardware in our neighborhood is brass, so spray painting was out. Add that to the Draconian list.
The Brasso directions recommend polishing brass once every three months. So that I never have to spend a Sunday afternoon polishing brass again, I am going to get in the habit of maintaining these brass finishes once every three months on the same day I change our air filter.