How to Clean Your Home Furnishings

Cleaning Metals

It's time to pull out your best silver for the holidays, and -- surprise, surprise -- it's tarnished! In this section, we'll tell you how to best remove tarnish, as well as how to clean other metals, including brass and pewter.


  • Strip cracked and peeling lacquer from coated brass objects with a solution of 1 cup baking soda in 2 gallons boiling water. Let the article stand in the water until it cools, then peel off the lacquer.
  • To clean brass, make a paste from 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Apply the paste with a soft cloth and rub. You may also dip a cut lemon in salt and rub it on the brass. Wash the object in warm soapy water, and buff to bring up the shine.


These two cleaning recipes will help keep your copper in good shape:

  • Make a paste of 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Rub it over the copper surface, then wash the copper object in hot soapy water. Rinse and buff for a shiny finish.
  • Mix 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt to make a copper cleaner. Wash, rinse, and dry the item after this treatment. A cut lemon dipped in salt will also clean copper.


Here's an excellent way to clean gold: Mix 1 teaspoon of ash with enough water to form a paste. Rub the paste on the surface of the gold with a soft cloth, rinse, and buff with a chamois. Baking soda can be substituted for ash.


  • Pewter can be cleaned with the outer leaves from a head of cabbage. Rub a leaf over the surface, and then buff it with a soft cloth.
  • Since pewter stains easily, wash pewter food containers and flatware immediately after use. Acidic foods, salt, and salad dressing are likely to blacken pewter.


We have three foolproof recipes for removing tarnish from your silver:

  • Place tarnished silver in a glass dish, add a piece of aluminum foil, and cover with 1 quart of hot water mixed with 1 tablespoon baking soda. A reaction between the foil and the silver will remove any tarnish. Don't use this process on raised designs; you will lose the dark accents of the pattern.
  • Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Using a soft cloth, rub the paste gently on the silver. Tarnish will disappear rapidly. After rinsing, buff the silver with a soft cloth.
  • Make a paste by mixing powdered white chalk with just enough ammonia to moisten. Rub the paste gently on the silver with a soft cloth. Rinse and buff to bring up the shine.

Just like your most precious silver, a high-priced item like a piano needs the utmost care. Keep reading for piano-cleaning tips.