We left off with me buying what I knew would one day become the the coolest looking clothes drying rack ever. But after piling it in the complete disaster that is recently the back seat of my car, I realized I needed to do something about the tarnished state before I'd be willing to even put DIRTY clothes on it.
This required some research.
I used the Google logo, but in reality I'm one of the only people on the planet that uses Bing.
Go ahead and judge me, I like the pictures.
The internet can be both an amazingly informative place as well as a place with too much information that you can't be certain is remotely accurate. That's why when I look something up that I know absolutely nothing about, I prefer websites that have comments and reviews so I can learn from other peoples' mistakes.
In my search to find the perfect cure for tarnished brass I had two requirements; a) that it be free, or at least very inexpensive and b) that it wasn't oily or chemically (yes... I used that non-word). I knew that my clothes were going to be on it so I didn't want anything that might ruin them.
After looking at various possibilities I settled on one that required only two things; salt and lemons.
Salt, we had plenty of at home... but lemons I would have to go out and buy. Luckily I hadn't done my weekly Costco run yet for work (I get to go to Costco to buy stuff for our kitchen in the office. It's honestly pretty great). Unluckily, that meant that I couldn't just buy a lemon or two, but instead came home with a whole bag of lemons (much to Jake's dismay).
My leftover lemons.
When I got home from work that night I put on some older clothes and set up my supplies on the deck in the backyard. Jake was kind enough to take the quilt rack apart for me while I prepped everything so I could get straight to work.
I sliced my first lemon in half and poured a very unhealthy amount of salt on top of it. I then proceeded to scrub the lemon and salt combo onto the brass. The acidity of the lemon works some kind of chemical reaction against the tarnish and the salt is a mild abrasive that scrubs it all off.
The first pole (I can't help but feel like the term "brass pole" refers to a stripper's pole but I SWEAR that's not what I mean) took me about 15 minutes to get cleaned up properly but by the second pole I got impatient. I decided to start with the lemon and salt and then get out a scrub-sponge and use the extra abrasiveness of that to get the dirt and tarnish off quicker.
Side by side comparison of what it looked like before and after.
It definitely worked, however I'm pretty sure it scratched the surface. I'm quite pleased with the mildly matte finish, but if you like your brass to be super duper shiny, I'd avoid that particular lazy-man's step.
In the picture you'll notice that the cleaned up version has bits that look a little pink. Jake pointed that out to me and we believe that the quilt rack is actually brass-plated copper and that I scrubbed so hard it took the brass right off. I don't really care though because I think it adds a nice bit of contrast and makes those elements pop.
You definitely have to be careful with the lemon juice, if you don't clean it off quickly it continues to change the colour of the brass. I cleaned each piece thoroughly with dish soap and then gave them a good soak with the hose.
Finally, I let all of the pieces sit inside for a day to completely dry out.
After it was dry, I put it all back together and wiped it down completely with disinfectant wipes to guarantee there was no more lemon, salt, or soap residue left coating the metal.
I also came up with the brilliant (okay, pretty standard) plan to use this for all of our blankets in our living room while not in use as a drying rack.
There's more than one blanket in the living room... I just grabbed this one for the picture.
Again, I wasn't 100% sure that I'd be writing a blog so I didn't take as many pictures as I should have. But it was in the midst of doing this project that I thought I'd like to start one which is probably the only reason I have the three that I do. So that's a win really...
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this turned out. All in all I used three whole lemons, about a cup of salt, and it took me just over an hour's worth of work. Absolutely worth it.
Have you ever tried "home-made" cleaning techniques? If so, how did they turn out for you? Leave a comment and let me know!
Side Note: I used it this past weekend to dry some of my laundry and it worked perfectly. It's light enough that I could move it next to the washing machine easily and there are enough poles on it to hang various items. I'm VERY pleased.