Lynnette Soltwedel
Lynnette Soltwedel
  • Tutorial Team
  • Spartanburg, SC

Cleaning up Old Hardware

3 Materials
$0
1 Day
Easy

I started doing this a few years ago when we were refinishing an old, wooden door, and decided I should share this helpful hint. Ever have a piece of furniture (or a door) that had pretty hardware, but beneath layers of paint and/or grime? Well, this is a great way to brush those layers away!
cleaning up old hardware
Grab a crockpot (one that will NOT be used for food again), and some dish soap. I had this dip sized crockpot laying around that works well for small pieces of hardware. I put in a drop (pea sized for this size crockpot) of dish soap (I prefer Dawn), fill with water (don’t forget to allow room for hardware), drop in hardware, and plug it in.

Grab a crockpot (one that will NOT be used for food again), and some dish soap. I had this dip sized crockpot laying around that works well for small pieces of hardware. I put in a drop (pea sized for this size crockpot) of dish soap (I prefer Dawn), fill with water (don’t forget to allow room for hardware), drop in hardware, and plug it in.
cleaning up old hardware
Today I wanted to clean up these drawer pulls from an old vanity. I started kind of late in the day, but thought I would have enough time.
cleaning up old hardware
This was after the first soaking, I took an old toothbrush and gave them a good scrubbing. It was late, and I was ready for bed...I could see they needed to soak a little more, but decided to wait until the next day to finish them up.
cleaning up old hardware
I let them soak for a few more hours today, and then gave them a good brushing with an old toothbrush. You can see the gunk that is coming off all over the paper towel. If they had paint on them, it would fall off in the crockpot. I love it when things are easy like that!!
cleaning up old hardware
Here they are all cleaned up. I plan on painting these as they have some bad places in the finish. You will see these all painted up when I post the vanity project (soon).
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 24 questions
  • Wendy doyle
    on Nov 11, 2017

    What setting do you put the crock pot on or do you just leave it off? Thanks

  • Carol
    on Nov 12, 2017

    OK folks, a lot of y'all must not know that until the late '70's, paint had lead in it. Using a throw away crock pot is the best thing, The dishwasher? Not on your life--literally!!! Brass cleaners, etc., will not remove paint, in most cases, and is expensive, stinks, and can be caustic as well. Stick with Lynette's way!!! (spoken as the owner of a 160 year old house that had painted hardware, and tried every method you've come up with, only to have scraped, skinned, burned hands and knuckles. )

    • Kate
      on Dec 19, 2017

      Many times the online warnings about "never let food touch that item again" are absurd so when a chemist, biochemist or physiologist puts a little common sense into the discussion they're attacked. I don't know about this but I wager this is different than removing paint from a significant area.

      Maybe the (real) Merck Index can answer any lingering questions.

      I'm not suggesting it's a bad idea to have a workshop crock pot or some sort of heating pot just because work areas can become messy. It may be a good idea to test the paint if the furniture is something you'll be working with a lot.


  • Che12868031
    on Dec 12, 2017

    how do you remove hardware which his been "tacked" on with teeny brads without marring the furniture??


    • Lynnette Soltwedel
      on Dec 12, 2017

      Those generally pop out easily. Slide something thin (putty knife works well) under edge of hardware and lift gently. Usually it will pop up, you will have to move around the hardware to get each side lifted. Hope this helps you!

Join the conversation

4 of 97 comments
  • I did this. However i used an old cast iron pan of grandma's. I did all the drawer and cupboard handles in my kitchen. As I was cleaning the rest of the kitchen I left the pot of dawn, water and handles summer on back burner. I discovered that my "brown" handles are actually copper and now they really make the room pop. Thank you so much for the tip.



  • Msf28807922
    on Nov 13, 2017

    Be VERY aware that antique furniture/hardware would probably lose its value if cleaned in such a manner.

    • Msf28807922
      on Nov 13, 2017

      My response was for those who might be considering your process on antique furniture. Your process is fine otherwise, to be sure!

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