Clean Brass With Ketchup (Really!)

Shawna Bailey
by Shawna Bailey
2 Materials
45 Minutes

Who ever would have that my favorite condiment would make a great metal polish? Using ketchup as brass cleaner has got to be one of the most unusual ways to clean any object ever. And it's chemical free - the concentrated tomato in the ketchup is what makes the magic. (Tomato paste also works, just not as well.)

I broke it down so you can see how to do it yourself!

I found this cup in a second hand shop and thought it would be really great for storing pens in my home office. Unfortunately, the cup was filthy! So here's what I did...

Step 1: Squirt Ketchup onto the Brass

I’m the first to admit that I was overzealous with the amount of ketchup I put on this cup. You really only need enough to cover it (and not cover the whole counter), but it was just too fun!

Step 2: Wait 40 Minutes

I tried this on a few brass pieces and the amount of time needed for each object varied a bit. This cup looked much dirtier than it actually was, but 40 minutes was enough to make it shine. For something really dirty, it could take up to two hours of sitting, especially if the grime on the brass object is oily.

Step 3: Rinse off the Ketchup

I just rinsed the cup in my kitchen sink. Make sure not to leave any ketchup, or it will dry sticky (yuck)!

Step 4: Dry and Buff Your Brass

The cup did need a wipe with a microfiber cloth to get that really brilliant shine. In the end, there were still a few black spots that looked like damage and would not come off, but I think they added character.

Just look at that newly polished brass! This trick worked like a charm. The only downside? It made me kinda hungry!

And it works on jewelry too!

Suggested materials:
  • Ketchup   (Grocery Store)
  • Micorfiber cloth
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 26 questions
  • Aon Aon on Aug 17, 2016
    Does it work on copper?
  • Tanya Tanya on Jul 29, 2018

    Would sweet & sour sauce work in place of the ketchup?

  • 19749539797 19749539797 on Sep 04, 2020

    i dont know if my mockingjay pin is tarnished brass or not and i dont want to ruin it so how do i know if its brass

Join the conversation
3 of 166 comments
  • Chrissy Rae Ogden Chrissy Rae Ogden on Mar 26, 2021

    I will be trying this in the next week on an old brass umbrella holder inherited from my mom. Just couldn't let it go. Now it will have a new life on the front porch with branches, palm fronds(they blow all over the road) or anything I can repurpose. Happy to have an inexpensive cleaner! Thanks

  • Joann Joann on Mar 22, 2022

    What a money saver….great idea

    thanks for sharing !!

    • Wendy Wendy on Jun 02, 2022

      Apart from money saver, I think that it's the energy saver that I love about it, along with knowing that it will work well. I have some antique brass pieces that I've tried cleaning with Brasso but it didn't do much to return them to their original appearance, so I'll definitely give this a try!