How to Clean Brass Candlesticks

how to clean brass candlesticks on table

Ashley Montgomery Design

Candles make a room feel instantly warmer and cozier, but they can provide extra style too, especially if they're displayed a certain way. Jars are, of course, a classic, but candlesticks can provide elegance and a vintage vibe to nearly any space. Brass candlesticks are making a comeback, as they bring in a pops of cozy cottage, Victorian, and farmhouse style all at once.

You can buy brass candlesticks new, but they can also be found in abundance at thrift stores, flea markets, and online vintage retailers. But whether your candlesticks are brand new or decades old, eventually, they'll need to be cleaned.

And though cleaning brass candlesticks may seem intimidating, with a little bit of maintenance and little bit more elbow grease, your brass beauties will stay bright and shiny. Keep reading to learn how often to clean your candlesticks, the different ways you can clean them, what you'll need, and how to keep your candlesticks clean for longer.

cleaning brass candlesticks in dining room

Ashley Montgomery Design

How Often Should You Clean Brass Candlesticks?

For some, the appeal of brass is its tarnish—for a good reason, as tarnished brass can look beautifully vintage in the right circumstances. If you're trying to preserve tarnishing rather than getting rid of it, you'll want to clean your brass candlesticks far less often—maybe a quick monthly dusting when you start to notice an excess of dirt.

But if you're looking for a sparkly shine rather than a dull luster, you'll need to clean them whenever they start showing signs of dirt, dust, stains, or smudges. Depending on where your candlesticks are located (and how often they're used), this can be anytime from every weeks to every few months, as candlesticks that are handled a lot or that are in dustier areas will need more frequent cleaning.

how to clean brass candlesticks

Getty Images / Noemi Jimenez

Things You'll Need

There are many different ways to clean brass candlesticks with many different items, including some staples you already have. Here's what you'll need for each method we have listed below.

Method One: Warm Water and Gentle Soap

  • Magnet
  • Warm water
  • Gentle soap
  • Lint-free cloth

Method Two: Ketchup

  • Ketchup
  • Warm water
  • Lint-free cloth

Method Three: Baking Soda and Lemon

  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Small bowl
  • Warm water
  • Lint-free cloth
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Ashley Montgomery Design

How To Clean Brass Candlesticks

There isn't just one way to clean a brass candlestick. Rather, just as there are many types of brass candlesticks, there are many ways to clean them too. Rather not DIY? You can also clean your candlesticks with a commercial brass cleaner, or take them to a professional.

Method One: Warm Water and Gentle Soap

Not all brass candlesticks are 100% brass—some are simply brass-plated. To see if your candlesticks are brass-plated, place a magnet on them. If the magnet sticks, your candlesticks are brass-plated. Additionally, your brass can also be lacquered, meaning there is a clear coat of lacquer on top of the brass to keep it shiny. If either of these are case, it's important to clean the candlesticks especially gently, as any harsh abrasives can remove the plating or lacquer.

An easy cleaning solution for brass-plated or lacquered candlesticks is a mixture of warm water and a few drops of gentle soap. Using a lint-free cloth, gently rub the mixture onto the candlesticks then wipe and dry it off.

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Brexton Cole Interiors

Method Two: Ketchup

The acidity of the tomatoes in ketchup make them tough on tarnishes, and you can use ketchup to clean brass (but not brass-plated) candlesticks. You can also use tomato paste instead of ketchup, but whatever you do: remember to remove the tomato sauce after it sits, or risk sticky candlesticks.

To clean candlesticks with ketchup, rub a small amount of ketchup onto the candlesticks and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, wipe off with warm water and buff dry. Afterwards, you should be left with a tarnish-free candlestick.

Method Three: Baking Soda and Lemon

This tried-and-true cleaning combo also works for brass candlesticks. Use it on fully brass, non-lacquered candlesticks, as this cleaning method is abrasive and can damage plating or lacquer. And don't rub the paste on too hard, as baking soda is very abrasive and can leave scratches on brass.

To clean brass candlesticks with lemon and baking soda, first mix three tablespoons of lemon juice with two teaspoons of baking soda to create a paste. Gently rub the paste onto the candlesticks and let sit for 30 minutes. Then, like the ketchup method, wipe off with a damp cloth and buff dry.

How To Keep Brass Candlesticks Clean Longer

Prevention is the first defense against stained and tarnished candlesticks—don't make more work for yourself down the road by neglecting to do (a little bit of) work along the way. First thing's first—remember to clean off excess wax that may have fallen on your candlestick after you use it.

Consider the placement of your candlesticks. If you place them in an area that gets dusty quickly (like the bathroom or kitchen), you'll have to clean them far more often.

Another easy way to keep brass candlesticks clean longer is regular dusting. A quick run-down with a lint-free cloth can remove and dirt and prevent them from building up over time.

You can also keep candlesticks clean with mineral oil. Rub just a little bit of mineral oil onto your candlesticks to bring out brass's natural shine and slow down oxidization. Another way to do the same thing is by applying a small amount of car wax, then buffing excess off. Car wax, like mineral oil, provides an additional protective element against dirt and grime.

Looking for a tarnish prevention method that's truly low-maintenance? Consider lacquer. Getting your candlesticks lacquered professionally can keep them staying shiny and grime-free year after year.