How to Clean Brass Hardware on Mid Century Modern Furniture

2 Materials
15 Minutes

We just love a good mid century modern furniture makeover, don’t you? Oftentimes, MCM furniture has brass hardware. So today we’re showing you how to clean the hardware on these beautiful furniture pieces!


Hubs started a new hobby when the pandemic hit; restoring old vintage sewing machines. However, that inadvertently turning into a new hobby for me too: restoring old sewing tables. Every time Hubs purchases a new old machine, it usually comes with a table. Because of that, we’re become sewing table horders!

In this example, the sewing table sold with one of Hubs’ restored vintage sewing machines. These machines are workhorses and were built to last. This one will easily last another 100 years as long as there are people around, like my husband, to maintain them!


In case you’re wondering, we’re not going to smear ketchup on these pulls or mix up a paste of lemon/salt or vinegar, salt and flour. These may be methods you’re familiar with. But we have something else in mind. So let’s get on with the tutorial!

The thing I love about brass is the patina it builds up over time. So while we do want to clean the brass, we don’t want to remove every vestige of the lovely patina! We’re not looking to flash back to the ’80s so we have a method on how to clean hardware a bit more gently!

This method will remove any lacquer on the brass. You can chose to leave it bare so it continues to patina or re-seal again with lacquer.

When you remove the hardware, be sure to put all the screws and pulls together in a Ziploc bag to keep them all together.

An ultrasonic cleaner will remove decades of filth.

We put the hardware, and also the screws, into a Ziploc bag and cover it with Simple Green.

Then fill the unit with water and set the timer for 5 minutes. Add the bag, then come back in 5.

This is how it looks when I lift it out of the water! Yuck.

Be sure to pour the contents into a fine mesh colander so you don’t lose any screws down the drain!

Against the white of a plastic container, you can really see how dirty the cleaning solution really is!

Rinse a few times in fresh water and strain into the colander.

Allow to dry on a paper towel.

As you can see above, our MCM hardware is anything but shiny again. Two more steps will have it sparkling!

You might still have remnants of lacquer left clinging to the brass and obvious signs of tarnish. An ultrasonic cleaner does not remove tarnish. However, you CAN set it for a longer duration to remove the lacquer – or use acetone.

So dip a cotton swab, or small cotton ball, into some acetone (I’m using nail polish remover) and rub it on.

The cotton swab will lift the lacquer and help remove more black tarnish.

To bring up the lustre of the brass and remove the last of the tarnish, use a silver polishing cloth. I hate purchasing items just to use for one thing! I already had this cloth to remove tarnish on my silver jewelry – before I came up with this jewelry storage diy to keep it tarnish free!

The polishing cloth will target the tarnish you see below.

Use the inner white cloth to polish – that’s the one with the polishing solution. Then buff with the outer cloth.

Here’s a reminder before cleaning these brass pulls.

The Reveal

After reinstalling the brass hardware it looks pretty stunning on the front of our mid century modern sewing table! It may look bright in the picture. However in real life, it still has the warmth and patina we love about brass!

You’ll see the full table later in the week when we show you how to paint it :).

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Crochet for a Cure

Now in its second year, our pattern shop continues to donate 100% of our proceeds to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

You’ll find patterns, like our signature Kayla Pillow, Air Planter Pods and Tooth Fairy Pillow (shown below), available to purchase as a donation to our Alzheimer’s fundraiser.

Come visit us to gift a pattern any time of year; with 100% going to charity, it’s a win-win!

Suggested materials:
  • Ultrasonic cleaner   (
  • Simple Green Pro HD   (
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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