How to Clean Old Metal Fixtures




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Have you ever been given or purchased an antique that has metal fixtures that are rusty and tarnished? Bring those fixtures back to life with these simple instructions.

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Step 1: Soak Fixtures in a Vinegar and Ketchup Solution to Remove Rust

  1. Remove fixtures from antique.
  2. Place in the kitchen sink or large bowl.
  3. Pour white or apple cider vinegar that is 5% acidity into the sink with the fixtures.
  4. Put some ketchup in with the vinegar.
  5. Let the fixtures soak for a few hours.
  6. Wearing gloves, take each fixture and put some extra ketchup on them and scrub them using an old tooth brush. The ketchup helps make a paste to scrub the extra rust off.
  7. After scrubbing each fixture, place them back in the vinegar solution and let them rest a few more hours.
  8. Scrub more if necessary.
  9. Remove from vinegar solution, rinse off with water, and immediately dry with a cloth or paper towel afterwards. If you don't dry them they will oxidize again with the water and create more rust.

Step 2: Get Remaining Rust and Some Tarnish Off With Brasso

After you have used the vinegar mixture, use Brasso and a paint brush to get some of the harder rust spots off. Wipe the fixtures clean with a cloth.

Step 3: Use Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish

Use Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish to get rid of all the tarnish left over on the fixtures. Take your paint brush and scrub it onto each fixture. Continue to rub until the polish begins to turn grey. Take a clean terry cloth and gently rub the polish off. If the fixture is still tarnished repeat the process until the fixture shines.

Step 4: Seal Fixtures

Use a clear enamel spray to seal your fixture, or they will continue to rust and tarnish with time.

Step 5: Attach Fixtures Back to Antique

Once your sealant has properly dried, put your fixtures back onto your antique and admire your work.

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    4 Discussions


    1 year ago

    It only takes a dab of Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish to do a very good polishing job. I have the same small jar of Mothers I bought almost 20 years ago for around $3.50, and it is still about 1/2 full. I have polished many, many things with that jar of Mothers. One jar is a life-time investment. An old T-shirt cut into around 6"x 6" pads works great, and Mothers works great on plastic, antler, bone, all metals and really just about any hard, mostly smooth material. A dab the size of a pencil tip will usually be plenty to bring a very dull ring back to a high shine. I wouldn't be without my Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish.


    Tip 1 year ago on Step 5

    Try soaking then in 50/50 salt and vinegar. Give them a whirl round will your hand or rock the container they're in and the shine is nearly automatic :)