My kitchen cabinets are a bit outdated. OK, a LOT outdated. I would love to have them replaced, but since that’s not an option right now, I thought just updating the hardware would do the trick. I read that a simple fix like replacing old cabinet hardware can really give your kitchen a freshening-up for a fraction of the cost of remodeling.
But the words of Farmers’ Almanac (and my late grandmother, who raised a family during the depression) echoed loudly in my brain:
Don’t spend your money on new fixtures! Fix up the old! What, are you crazy?
Seriously, what was I thinking? Why was my first instinct to buy new? With a little elbow grease and one of our favorite Almanac hacks, I knew I could shine up these cabinet pulls and drawer knobs until they sparkled like new. But was I biting off more than I could chew? Would all the fixtures be in a box for weeks because it was too hard to deal with?
Replacing 16 kitchen cabinet pulls and 8 drawer knobs was not something I budgeted for, so cleaning and polishing them made much more financial sense if anything. So I put any misgivings I had aside, and got to work.
Step 1: Clean and Degunk
First, I determined that all the hardware was brass, and it was going to need a good cleaning—just the pulls and knobs (the hinges looked fine).
I removed everything easily with a screwdriver, put the screws in a bag so they wouldn’t disappear, and tossed all the gunky pulls and knobs into a washtub filled with about a gallon of hot water and a cup of white vinegar. I let everything soak for about an hour. Then I drained the water and filled the basin up again with the same amount of hot water and Dawn dish soap, and let everything soak in the suds for another hour. The two soaking steps really loosened years of kitchen build-up (it was pretty ugly so I didn’t take pictures of that step), which I scrubbed away using a kitchen scrubbie pad.
Once clean, I rinsed the pieces thoroughly, and prepared for the next step. This was going to be the fun part!
Step 2. Shine
Once the pieces were clean, it was time to shine the tarnished brass. The Farmers’ Almanac has several metal polishing hacks, including dipping items in a bowl of ketchup, but I went with our popular salt and lemon hack. Simply cut a lemon in half, dip it in table salt, then using the lemon as a scouring pad, scrub it across the hardware. The tarnish will melt away. And it did!
I rinsed everything again, dried with a towel, then let them air-dry completely.
Note: the lemon juice can be a little tough on hands, especially when you’re working on so many items, so I recommend wearing kitchen gloves for the project.
Step 3. Enjoy The Finished Product
Before screwing everything back into place, I buffed the hardware using a little lemon oil and an old T-shirt as a final step. Voila! They looked like new! And as I hoped, the kitchen cabinets got a nice freshening up with their gleaming brass pulls.
This method can also be used on copper—it works great on the bottoms of copper cookware.
This project showed me I was able to repurpose with a purpose. And rather than burn a hole in my wallet, I maybe burned a few calories in the process!
If you tried this brass polishing tip, let us know in the comments below.