How to Clean an Antique Brass Chandelier and Remove Tarnish


I thought it would be fun to swap out a traditional bathroom light fixture for a vintage chandelier! Use a few household staples for this surprisingly simple way to clean an antique brass chandelier and crystals.

We are in week two of the One Room Challenge. While the new drywall was going up in our bathroom, I was shopping on Facebook Marketplace!

I feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon this antique brass chandelier. It was removed from an old church outside Lancaster, isn’t it dreamy?


I think it will be the perfect thing to replace the vanity light in our guest bathroom remodel. There is only one problem. There is so much grime and tarnish hiding just how beautiful it is!


I decided to try some of the affordable home cleaning methods before spending money on crystal cleaner and Brasso.

After some research on methods to clean an antique brass chandelier and remove tarnish, I can tell you the internet has no shortage of ideas!

In the end, I used a combination of two methods, and it worked just as I had hoped!

Surprisingly, the primary method I used to clean the brass chandelier…was ketchup! I’m excited to share the results with you!

Chandelier Cleaning Supplies

  • rubbing alcohol
  • distilled water
  • spray bottle
  • several cotton rags
  • ketchup
  • fine steel wool

Is It Solid Brass?

The first thing I learned from this article on Hunker was how to check if a chandelier is brass plated or solid brass before cleaning.


A simple way to do this is with a magnet. If a magnet sticks to the fixture, it is likely brass plated steel or cast iron, and the tarnish is actually rust.


If it is rusty, steel wool will remove the surface rust. Any damage to the finish can be replated, or painted with spray paint.


Cleaning a Brass Chandelier

I couldn’t believe it, but ketchup works exceptionally well for cleaning brass! Check out this experiment by Little House on the Corner. She goes through a few of the more popular home brass cleaning methods, and compares them against brass cleaner. I was so surprised how well ketchup worked for her, and I had to try it out!


The first step is to carefully remove the crystals from the chandelier and lay them on a cloth. It will make it easier to clean the tarnish from the brass with the crystals removed.


Next, I wiped down the brass chandelier with a damp rag to remove any loose dust and dirt.


I put a generous amount of ketchup into a ramekin.


Then, I used another rag to wipe the ketchup onto the chandelier, leaving enough to completely coat the brass.


I could see some great progress almost instantly!

Once I completely covered the surface, I left it to work for about 10 minutes,

While the ketchup did its thing, I gently wiped down each crystal. To clean the crystals, I used a mixture of one part isopropyl alcohol and three parts water. After liberally spraying the crystals with the mixture, I dried them gently with a clean cotton cloth.

Next, I gradually removed the ketchup from the brass with a damp rag. I rinsed and rung out the rag as needed.

After the chandelier was clean, it looked so much better! The ketchup took off the majority of the tarnish, but left enough to give it the nice vintage patina I was hoping for.


However, I noticed a some small areas that still had quite a lot of tarnish. I think I missed a couple spots with the ketchup, and it just didn’t get into some of the crannies.


Rather than repeating the process, I used steel wool. I gently scrubbed the areas that needed it. The excess tarnish came off easily.


I think steel wool would be a good option on its own to revive an old chandelier when the crystals cannot be removed.

Once the chandelier was clean, I reattached the crystals.

how to clean an antique brass chandelier

I am so happy with the finished result. This marketplace chandelier was totally worth the effort! I can’t wait to see how it works with the rest of the bathroom.

Next week, I’m planning to share what we decided on for our walls, floors and vanity. I can’t wait to share details about how we are getting the vanity we want on a budget!

Be sure to check out the other room makeovers on the ORC blog. From there, you can view both the featured and guest participants!

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