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How do you clean oxidized door handles? Among the many household items, door handles belong to the messiest ones. No matter if your door handles are internal or external, they are frequently used and exposed to many factors. As a result, they get tarnished and worn. So, let’s find out how to fix this problem!

clean oxidized door handles
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How do you clean an oxidized door handle?

To clean door handles properly, you have to know what you are going to deal with.

There are some crucial points that certain cleaning methods depend on, such as commonly used metal types, or the conditions that interior and exterior doors are exposed to.

Let’s take a closer look at the world of door hardware!

Why my door handles are oxidized?

The oxidation is a common process for most types of metal. As for the metals used in door knockers, knobs, and handles, they are mostly prone to oxidation which is also known as tarnishing.

When tarnished, the metal surface looks dark and dull. Getting in contact with moisture and air, or even some chemicals, the metal surface gets covered with the upper dark layer of corrosion. A tarnished brass surface is a common situation that needs the proper cleaning so as not to worsen it.

What types of door handles can you clean?

To clean door handles properly, find out which type of metal they are made of. Here is a list of the most popular materials that are used in the exterior and interior door handles:

  • Aluminum door hardware
  • Brass door handles
  • Chrome door handles
  • Copper handles
  • Nickel door handles
  • Stainless steel door handles

Brass handles are the most common type of handles that are likely to tarnish with time. For those who have lacquered brass door handles and door knobs, a good idea is to give them an extra protective layer of natural wax.

Exterior vs interior door handles

Cleaning and care tips depend on the material they are made of and their location. Unlike the interior handles, the external door handles and door knobs are constantly exposed to different weather conditions.

  • Internal handles are much easier to maintain and clean. They can have several marks and stains on the surface, as well as some grime accumulations or rusty spots.
  • External door handles are more prone to get dirty and tarnished. Along with picking mess from hands, they also get oxidized or rusty from the water and wind exposure and the temperature changes.
Check Out:  How to Clean Brass

No matter if you have a solid brass or a plastic PVC door handle, it requires special care to stay in tip-top condition.

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How to clean brass door handles?

Cleaning brass door handles or door knobs is insanely simple when you know what to do!

The solid brass surface is often covered with a layer of lacquer protecting the metal underneath from tarnishing. However, it is prone to wear and tear when constantly used. So, keep your lacquered brass door handles away from further damage.

The good news is that brass hardware cleaning methods are also suitable for copper ones.

Besides, there are several simple methods that you can choose from.

Of course, you can get a commercial solution, such as brass cleaner. However, there are more eco-friendly and money-saving methods to complete this task.

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Baking soda method

This versatile product is widely used for cleaning, so you can use it as a good brass cleaner.

  • Make a thick paste of baking soda and lemon juice. Be sure to add a small amount of lemon juice as it can be too harsh for the metal surface in large quantities.
  • Cover the tarnished brass doorknobs and handles with a thin layer of this paste. Lightly rub the surface to remove the oxidation.
  • Let the baking soda paste sit and work for a while, Then, wipe the paste with a clean cloth.
  • Rinse the brass handles thoroughly with warm water to remove the residue of the baking soda cleaning solution and oxidized mess.
  • Wipe the handles dry with a microfiber cloth. As soon as it is dry, apply a layer of natural wax for better protection.

Ketchup method

It may sound weird but tomato sauces can help you magically clean external door handles!

Being mildly acidic, ketchup dissolves many types of mess safely.

  • Cover the exterior handle with a thin layer of ketchup.
  • Let it sit and work for a while (no less than 5 minutes).
  • Wipe the ketchup off with a paper towel.
  • Rinse the handle with warm water to dispose of all the residue.
  • Wipe the handle dry and you are good to go!
Check Out:  How to Clean Copper

White vinegar method

One more household cleanser is white vinegar. No wonder you can clean door handles with this all-purpose helper!

  • Wipe all the mess from the handle.
  • Make a paste of flour, salt, and vinegar in equal amounts (1 tsp of each ingredient).
  • Gently rub the handle with this paste.
  • Let it sit and work for about 3 minutes.
  • Wipe the paste off and rinse the handles with hot soapy water.
  • Wipe the handle dry with a clean soft cloth.
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How to clean chrome door handles?

Chrome hardware not only looks glossy and neat but is also super-easy to maintain and clean. The cleaning method for chrome handles takes minimum time and cleaning sources to do this job.

  • Take a soft cloth and wipe all the mess away from the handle’s surface.
  • Mix a few drops of mild soap and clean water. Opt for high-quality cleaning supplies as the cheap ones contain chemicals that can boost the tarnishing process.
  • With the help of a clean dampened cloth and soapy water, rub the handle’s surface gently to remove the oxidation layer.
  • Take the other clean damp cloth to wipe the handle again. You need to remove the traces of dish soap thoroughly to avoid further oxidation.
  • Wipe the handle dry with a dry microfiber cloth. Be sure to remove any droplets of water!

How to clean nickel door handles?

Nickel handles are extremely easy to clean with the help of dish soap and warm water. Add a layer of chrome polishing when you finish the cleaning session. Avoid rough polishing so as not to damage their surfaces.

How to clean stainless steel hardware?

Stainless steel is quite tricky to clean, so it’s better to maintain it properly than deal with it afterward. Use a damp rag and some warm water to gently clean these surfaces. Wipe the surface dry.

The most stubborn areas are good to clean with olive oil and vinegar in a ratio of 1:1.

Don’t try to do this!

Now, you know several ways to clean the metal hardware. Be sure that you avoid certain options while cleaning the metal door hardware:

#1. No hard water

When cleaning brass door handles or any other metal handles, never use hard water! The mineral deposits contained in such water can worsen the situation significantly.

Check Out:  How to clean hot tub with vinegar: the best guide

#2. No chlorine cleaners

Choose the proper cleanser for the brass handles. Avoid using cleaning agents that contain chlorine, such as bleach or any other similar household products.

#3. No abrasive cleaners and materials

As you deal with the metal units, say no to abrasive materials such as wire wool, steel wool sponges, or any other similar scrubbing units that can destroy the handle surface and get to the metal underneath.

Besides, avoid using harsh chemicals that can cause more damage to the affected surfaces.

#4. No high temperatures

This hack is mostly true for the external door handles (especially for the stainless steel door furniture) that have to bake in the sun for several hours.

While the metal is hot, don’t start cleaning door handles! Wait until they cool down to start the process.

This point is especially true for stainless steel door furniture that is easy to damage while it is hot.


How do you remove oxidation from exterior door handles?

The exterior door handles are quite easy to clean. To remove the oxidation from the common brass handles, you can use just warm water and mild dish soap. Apply the cleaner with the help of a soft cloth or sponge moving along the grain. After cleaning and rinsing, wipe the brass door handle dry.

Prepare a simple cleanser with olive oil and white vinegar in a ratio of 1:1. Clean the stubborn areas thoroughly, then rinse the door knob and wipe it dry with a clean soft cloth.

How do you clean oxidized bronze door handles?

Bronze door hardware is easy to clean with warm soapy water. Clean all the surfaces thoroughly, then rinse with fresh water and wipe it dry.

How do you remove oxidation from oil rubbed bronze door handle?

Cleaning oil-rubbed bronze door handles is a simple task. Just dampen a soft rag in warm clean water and a bit of dish soap. Then, rub the surface until it is clean. Finally, rinse and dry it completely.

Final thoughts

Cleaning any door handles, internal or external ones, is not a science. You can opt for the most suitable method and maintain your door hardware in the best condition!

Mary Ann

I'm a mom of 3 and spend a good chunk of my time cleaning and organizing our crazy home. My goal is to help people keep their homes tidy in a way that saves them time and money! I hope the resources on this site are a help to you and your family.

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