Cleaning up Old Hardware

Lynnette Soltwedel
by Lynnette Soltwedel
3 Materials
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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).
Suggested materials:
  • Dawn dish soap   (On hand)
  • Crockpot   (On hand)
  • Toothbrush   (On hand)
Frequently asked questions
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  • Homekeeper Homekeeper on Jun 19, 2019

    My secret weapons when taking on this kind of project. To remove paint from hardware, toss it in boiling water in an old coffee can or old metal coffee pot and TSP(there's a no phosphate version). Boiling water speeds the process and in a lot of cases paint will fall off the hardware in 30 minutes or so. Remove from stove, and when water cools enough, use scrub brush to remove remaining paint. Rinse well and follow-up with with a good scrub using Bar Keepers friend to remove tarnish. Just refinished my bedroom doors and used this method to restore all the original hardware (painted hinges look so sloppy, why do people do this?) and they turned out great.


  • Gina Flechsig-Scruggs Gina Flechsig-Scruggs on Jul 23, 2019

    These drawer pulls from a vintage vanity have Lucite or basically orange plastic also attached to the metal. They are e at least 4" wide. Any suggestions?

  • Alicia Kay Baer-Darrah Alicia Kay Baer-Darrah on Nov 17, 2019

    I left my kitchen hardware in the soapy water too long, got the 70 years of grime off, varnish or lacquer off, now the pretty gold coating is a little compromised and rusting. I have 0000 steel wool to clean the rust off and buff to a shine. Will spraying the hardware with a clear coat keep them from rusting?

Comments
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  • Dianne Volcensek DeWilde Dianne Volcensek DeWilde on Nov 09, 2017
    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 Msf28807922 on Nov 13, 2017
    Be VERY aware that antique furniture/hardware would probably lose its value if cleaned in such a manner.

    • See 1 previous
    • Msf28807922 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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