Finicky Faucet Finishes
Here are some more specific instructions for different types of faucet materials:
Brass - To clean a brass faucet, use a mild soap or detergent with hot water on a soft cloth. Without a protective coat, brass finishes are easily scratched or scuffed. Avoid acidic fluids and astringent or abrasive cleaners as they can further damage the top coat of a brass finish, dulling the shine over time. Oxidation is also possible with brass finishes. To remove oxidation from a brass faucet, create a paste with baking soda and white vinegar and apply it with an old toothbrush. Let it sit for about half an hour before rinsing thoroughly and patting dry with a soft cloth. You can add a polish to complete the process as well. Lemon and table salt also work well on solid brass faucets to remove stains. As brass is prone to tarnishing, a polish/lacquer/wax or even oil (mineral, olive, linseed, etc.) helps keep brass shiny and protected for long-lasting shine.
Stainless steel - Routine cleaning with soap and water preserves stainless steel faucets’ sheen and integrity. Stay away from abrasive cleaners and scrubbers, like steel brushes, as they scratch and dull stainless steel. Simply rub and dry in the direction of the grain to optimize its appearance. Rinse any cleansers off stainless steel quickly to prevent corrosion. Drying stainless steel faucets after use prevents water marks and surface rust. Don’t let rags, cloths and sponges dry on stainless steel, as they also dull its shine.
Chrome - While durable, chrome’s shine can often get lost behind surface blemishes like fingerprints and water spots. Remedy splotches with a dry buff using a soft cloth. Soap and water is a staple for cleaning chrome, with a soft cloth or sponge, so long as it’s rinsed and dried afterward. A 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar is also a cleaning option for chrome. Be sure to not let it sit for too long as chrome finishes are particularly susceptible to damage from extended exposure to vinegar. Like most other finishes, avoid using abrasive soaps and scrubbers on chrome faucets.
Bronze - Routine cleaning is necessary to keep bronze finishes beautiful and free from corrosion, green film, and the dreaded deterioration. Gently wipe down your bronze faucet daily with a soft microfiber cloth to remove any soap or toothpaste residue and dust, as they can all eat away at a bronze finish. Clean bronze finishes with a teaspoon of salt mixed in one gallon of warm water, and use a soft-bristle brush to apply the mixture. To deep clean, add one teaspoon of salt to one cup of white vinegar, and add flour until it creates a paste. Coat the bronze faucet with the paste, let it dry for one hour, and rinse off with warm water. Always finish by drying your faucet with a soft cloth. However, avoid washing oil-rubbed bronze too often and instead gently wipe your faucet with a dry soft cloth after each use. Stick to cleaning your faucet with a damp soft cloth with clean water, and dry immediately after. If you see any moisture on your oil-rubbed bronze faucet, dab (opposed to rubbing) away the moisture immediately to prevent water spots. When using vinegar to clean your bronze faucet, always dilute it 50/50 with water and don’t let it sit for more than a few minutes. A periodic thin layer of liquid antique wax (Renaissance Wax is highly recommended), or even oil, is also good for bronze faucets and fixtures to restore shine.
Polished nickel - Polished nickel takes well to regular maintenance with a quick wipe down using a wet cloth, if not a damp, soapy washcloth, and a buff dry. Polished nickel is prone to showing fingerprints and water spots like chrome, but needs a bit more maintenance to maintain its luster. Like brass, nickel can also oxidize over time, especially if the top-layer polish cracks or chips, so regular maintenance is needed for polished nickel faucets. A damp rag with white vinegar is sufficient to gently rub off water spots when needed. For a more intense clean, spray a disinfectant on and leave to set for a minute before using a toothbrush to scrub small or tricky to reach areas (like edges). Remember to rinse the cleaner off the faucet before buff drying with a clean rag.
Brushed nickel - Unlike polished nickel, brushed nickel doesn’t show fingerprints or water spots. However, the maintenance is pretty low-key, a damp cloth wipe down is sufficient on a daily basis. Like chrome, brushed nickel is durable and is easy to clean. Corrosion is possible if you use harsh cleaners, so be sure to avoid using abrasive cleaners and scrubs.
When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s website for maintenance and care instructions. There are always finish-specific cleansers available for purchase as well.