Keeping metal looking new and pristine involves cleaning it regularly and polishing it as soon as it looks tarnished or as soon as it begins to oxidize. Commercial metal polish can get expensive. This is especially true because you might need to purchase a different type of metal polish for each type of metal in your home, be it silver, brass or stainless steel. Homemade metal polishing solutions help you save money and utilize items you may already have in your home. It also help you avoid using polishers that might contain harsh chemicals.
Ketchup is a common substitute for commercial metal polishes. It is specifically used to clean and polish solid brass. To use it, work a small amount of ketchup into the surface and crevices of the brass object with a water-dampened cloth. Work until the metal appears bright and polished. Wipe the ketchup off the object with a water-dampened cloth and dry it completely with another clean cloth.
White vinegar is a common ingredient in many home-cleaning solutions. Use it to remove alkaline oxidation of solid brass objects. Don't use this process to clean plated objects as it will wear away the metal plate. To use it, mix 1 tsp. salt with ½ cup white vinegar. Add enough flour to make a thick paste. Rub the metal polishing paste into the metal until it is covered. Let it dry for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with clear water and drying it with a clean cloth.
Ammonia is a strong chemical that can be toxic if ingested. It also has a strong odor that can irritate your nose and lungs. Work in a well-ventilated area when using it to polish stainless steel objects. To use it, mix 1 tsp. with 1 gallon warm water. Rinse the stainless steel with the ammonia solution. Rub it over the stainless steel surface until it appears polished and shiny. Rinse with clear water and buff it dry.
Silver polish can be expensive, and polishing silver and other metals can be time consuming. Instead, line a pot with aluminum foil and place the silver in it. Add ¼ cup washing soda per gallon of water. Add 1 gallon boiling water and let the pot sit for 15 minutes until the water is cloudy and black and the silver is clean. Remove the silver and dry it completely.
Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.