How to Clean Bronze – 8 Steps to a Shiny Look

bronze service set of pot and cups on a indoor table

When bronze is new, it has a look that draws in attention and can be the focal point of just about any room. That being said, bronze is a combination of tin and copper. When these two metals are exposed to moisture and air, green build-up can develop on the surface. Some may feel that the patina adds character to your bronze pieces. However, others prefer their objects look shiny and clean.

For those who prefer their pieces looking as they used to when they were purchased, this how to clean bronze step-by-step guide will help them transform the bronze and remove all that built-up patina.

Step 1. Gather Cleaning Products

For this how to clean bronze guide, we are going to work with only all-natural products. They will do the same if not better job than those tarnish remover products that are available in retail shops.

What you are going to need to clean the bronze is:

  • Bowl with warm water.
  • Clean towel.
  • Cotton polishing cloths.
  • Rubber gloves.
  • Soft toothbrush.
  • White cotton tee-shirt.
  • Baking soda.
  • And lemon juice.

For the sake of cleaning the bronze, lemon juice from concentrate works just as fine.

Step 2. Rinse the Bronze

Depending on the size of the bronze pieces you need to clean, you should adjust the size of the bowl and the warm water accordingly. Place the piece in the bowl of warm water. Make sure that water gets into every crack and crevice of the piece.

The goal at this stage is getting any dirt particles or dust off the piece before the real cleaning begins. If you simply go straight to polishing, those particles can diminish the overall appearance. Once you feel that the piece it completely clean, use the towel to dry the surface thoroughly.

Bronze may be resistant to moisture. However, if the surface is still wet when you are trying to polish, it could result in an even faster formation of the patina.

Step 3. Make the Cleaning Paste

half cut lemons in and around lemon squeezer

The paste that we are going to use in this how to clean bronze guide is not going to harm the finish. On the contrary, it will only remove the patina and leave the piece shining. Start making the cleaning paste by adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a dish. Afterwards, drizzle a small amount of the lemon juice on top. Mix the baking soda and lemon juice thoroughly. Add more splashes of the juice until you get a soft paste.

Don’t worry. The bubbling is normal. Nonetheless, allow the bubbles to settle down before moving on to the next step.

Step 4. Apply the Cleaning Paste

Put on your rubber gloves, grab a small amount of the cleaning paste with your hands, and apply that paste to the bronze piece. You can use cotton polishing cloths to spread the paste all over the piece in circular motions.

If you are unable to find cotton polishing cloths, a great alternative is to find an old white cotton tee-shirt. Cut it up into a few square pieces. Once the cloth is covered in green patina, toss it and use a new clean cloth.

Step 5. Clean Intricate Bronze Pieces

Many bronze items are very intricate and complicated pieces with several tight spots and crevices. It might be impossible to get that cotton cloth into those areas. You might also have gotten some of the cleaning paste in there and can’t get it out.

If you don’t have one, purchase a cheap soft bristle toothbrush to reach that paste. This common household tool is perfect to rub it in those hard to reach locations. If the location is too tiny for the toothbrush, grab a wooden toothpick to rub that paste into the patina in those areas.

While using the polishing cloth on the bronze piece, keep rubbing in small circular motions. Stop only when you acquired the desired result.

intricate bronze piece as in a watch mechanism with small gears

Step 6. Patience and Persistence

While using this baking soda and lemon juice cleaning paste, you may not see the desired result instantly. It might take some serious elbow-grease. However, the longer you rub, the more patina will be stripped away. Although this guide on how to clean bronze is relatively easy, it does take a certain amount of time and patience. That greenish patina is quite stubborn to remove.

Another thing to remember is that some areas of the piece may have more patina than others, so to get a uniform shine, it is important to work those challenging areas longer.

Step 7. Clean the Bronze Piece

Once the piece has been cleaned with the cotton cloths, and you feel that the surface is as clean as it can be, allow the paste to remain on the surface for about half an hour. The paste will adhere to those loosened pieces of patina. Therefore, set each bronze piece aside while the paste dries. After thirty minutes has passed, rinse the bronze piece with warm water to get all the paste off the item. Be sure the water gets into any areas where the paste was used.

Once the bronze piece has been completely cleaned, use another clean towel to buff dry the entire piece. Make sure it is completely dry, and all the moisture has been removed.

Step 8. The Final Inspection

The bronze piece should look shiny and new at this point. If that green patina still remains in certain spots or you could have done a better job overall, simply repeat steps 2 through 8 again.

Final Word

This how to clean bronze guide may have been easy to implement. Nonetheless, rest assured that if you keep up the cleaning and dusting of the piece during the year, less polishing will be required. Maintain those bronze items by regularly rinsing and drying them. Regular maintenance care will keep those bronze pieces looking their best.

If you found other ways on how to clean bronze that you like to share, our readers will certainly appreciate it if you mention those tips here.

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