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How to clean brushed metal handles & knobs

As a homeowner, you want your abode to look as good as possibly can, all of the time, which means regular cleaning and maintaining of everything you see.

One area that often gets forgotten, however, in this process, is metal hardware, door handles, and door knobs. If they're tarnished or dirty, then they're not going to look their best and it will detract from your home's look.

You need a cleaning solution for each type of handle

The good news is that dirt and metal tarnishing is something that can be removed from your kitchen cabinet hardware and door handles, with the right cleaning solution.

Here we'll be covering how to clean brushed stainless steel clean door handles and cabinet knobs, as well as brushed nickel and brass. We'll even cover pewter kitchen cabinet hardware!

However, before offering some kitchen cleaning tips for cabinet hardware and doors made from brushed metal, we first need to take a look at how it becomes dirty and tarnished in the first place.

cleaning the handle

How Metal Cabinet Knobs & Door Handles Become Tarnished

The word tarnish comes from the middle eastern word 'ternysshen' meaning to make dim, which is essentially what happens when metal corrodes.

When tarnishing occurs, a thin layer of corrosion appears on metals like aluminium and brass. The only notable exception is stainless steel, which is impervious to both rust and corrosion.

tarnished door handle

A lack of lustre affects their look

That's not to say that stainless steel cabinet knobs and handles can't lose their lustre, because they can. It just tends to be a build-up of contaminants that dims the shine instead.

Aside from that, all door handles and cabinet hardware can become unsightly due to dirt, dust and grime. So now, let's look at how to clean each type of metal properly.

How to Clean Brushed Stainless Steel

brushed stainless steel door handle

Ok, so when you come to tackle the job of cleaning your brushed stainless steel cabinet hardware or brushed steel handles, you'll be pleased to know that it's not going to take more than just basic cleaning supplies.

Firstly, depending on the stain or dirt build-up, you might be able to get away with just using warm water and a soft rag for minor stains.

Try & Wipe With the Grain

As you'll see when inspecting brush steel, there's a grain and it's important to wipe with the grain rather than against it, as you can end up causing damage.

However, if warm water doesn't quite cut it, you might need to use a mild household cleaner of some kind or perhaps mix some mild dish soap in with the water.

Avoid being too rough or abrasive

Even though it might look like stainless steel can take a rough scrubbing, it can't if you want it to retain its aesthetic appeal, so you should absolutely avoid using steel wool.

Obviously, you could go out and buy specific cleaning products that are designed for brushed steel, but why would you if a soft cloth and some household alternatives are at hand?

Avoid Oven Cleaning Solutions & Chloride Products

The chemicals you use can also end up damaging brush steel cabinet hardware, so make sure to avoid products containing bleach or chloride, as well as oven cleaning products.

If you do have stainless steel cabinet handles or door knobs that are particularly dirty, try using some baking soda. It's messy, but it gets the job done!

How to Clean Brushed Nickel

brushed nickel door handle

Next, we look at brushed nickel door handles and cabinet hardware, which typically have an attractive silvery-white appearance.

As is the case with steel cabinet hardware, nickel needs to be first washed with warm water and dishwashing liquid when the stains aren't too stubborn.

More stubborn build-ups may require A vinegar solution

If you're faced with stains that water, dishwashing soap and a soft cloth can't dislodge, then you should perhaps try water and a white vinegar soaked cloth instead.

This should have the desired effect on your metal hardware, and because it's alkaline, it's much gentler and so won't cause damage as acidic cleansers can.

Getting Rid of Tarnish

In the event that your brushed nickel cabinet hardware already become tarnished, it might be possible to restore its look with the right approach.

You could again try baking soda applied with a soft toothbrush on the worst of it and check back in a few hours to see if another application is required.

How to Clean Brushed Brass

brushed brass door handle

Next, we look at brushed brass cabinet hardware and door handles, which require regular maintenance and polishing to retain their gleam and shine.

Anyone who's ever had brass door handles or cabinet hardware will know how easily they can lose their shine. In fact, sometimes they look like they need another clean just a few hours after you've just done them!

Hands Leave Grease Behind BRAss Cabinet hardware That Dims the Shine

Of course, brushed brassed kitchen cabinet hardware isn't as susceptible to finger marks as regular brass, but grease can be left behind after just a few uses.

As you may have gathered already, brushed metal cabinet hardware needs to be treated with kid gloves, which again means no harsh chemicals.

Clean brushed brass kitchen cabinet hardware with care

Brushed brass is very easy to scratch, so stay well away from steel wool when you clean kitchen cabinet hardware made from it.

So, we're talking about a wash with warm, soapy water and a soft, clean cloth on regular basis, again being sure to clean with the grain to ensure no damage is caused.

What about unlacquered brass knobs and handles?

Not all of the brass cabinet handles and handles you come across will be of the brushed brass variety, as many older types found on antique doors and furniture are unlacquered.

Unlacquered brass offers a much more rustic aesthetic and in truth, is pretty low maintenance. That said, you still need to be gentle.

How to clean kitchen cabinet hardware made from unlacquered brass

When you attempt to clean kitchen cabinet hardware and door handles made from unlacquered brass, it's essentially the same process, but with polishing at the end!

After cleaning the unlacquered brass hardware on your kitchen cabinets with warm soapy water, you should gently rub them with either a paper towel or a microfiber cloth and some brass polish.

How to Clean Pewter

antique pewter door handle

We couldn't talk about caring for metal kitchen cabinet hardware and door knobs without including pewter. It may be rarer to find pewter kitchen cabinet hardware, but it still needs to be cared for.

Fortunately, again, to clean kitchen cabinet hardware like this, you just need a little elbow grease and just a soft rag and some warm, soapy water.

Again, Baking soda Can Work Wonders

When you clean kitchen cabinet hardware and door knobs made from pewter, the ever-dependable baking soda can again help you remove both tarnishing and dirt.

However, what you should avoid is using anything with lemon juice in it. With lemon juice being highly acidic, it can easily damage your metal.

Keeping your Kitchen Cabinets & Doors Looking their Best

There you have it - now you know how to clean cabinet hardware and door handles manufactured from the most common types of metal.

Remember, look after your kitchen hardware and door handles and they'll look after you, but doing so does require regularity and the right approach.

As we've seen here though, there's no real need to spend money on expensive cleaning products, as you've likely already got everything you need at home.

Just a clean rag, an old toothbrush, some household items and perhaps some rubber gloves are all you need to get the job done.

So, whether dealing with satin nickel drawer pulls or your lounge door handles, take a moment to consider the type of metal you're using and always be as gentle as you can be.

Do that and you'll have no problem maintaining their look and function. That's it from us again. Check back with us again soon for more helpful tips and advice.