The Two Easy Ingredients You Need To Clean Your Brass Menorah

The holiday season is officially in full swing and — for many households — that means it's time to pull the Hanukkah menorah out of the basement, attic, or garage. For those whose menorah happens to be made out of brass, this can lead to a rather disconcerting discovery when the surface appears even more tarnished than it did last year. Typically, this tarnish can look like green, blue, or white spots that are caused by oxidation, which happens when the material is exposed to air. Humidity or debris can also make the spots look worse. Since your menorah is guaranteed to be on display for at least eight nights, it's worth it to take the time to make it shine before the holiday begins. Fortunately, cleaning a brass menorah is a simple process that only requires two simple ingredients from your kitchen: lemons and table salt. 

Because you probably already have these two items on hand, this could be the easiest and most cost-effective way to clean your menorah. These ingredients are believed to work for cleaning brass because lemon is acidic and salt is slightly abrasive. When used in conjunction, both these materials work together to remove any tarnish from the brass surface. For tools, you'll need a small bowl, a soft cloth or sponge, and a microfiber towel. Gather your supplies and your menorah and find yourself a work surface to do your cleaning on — you'll be ready for Hanukkah in no time. 

Cleaning a lightly-tarnished brass menorah

If your brass menorah is only slightly-tarnished, you can easily clean it using only a half of a lemon and some table salt. First, clean any melted wax out of your menorah, which can easily be done with just your fingernails. Then, cover the top of the lemon half with salt and use it to gently scrub away the dirt, grime, and tarnish. Be sure to use only gentle pressure, as pushing too hard may result in visible scratches being left behind on the brass.

Scrub the entire surface of the menorah with the salt-coated lemon half at last once. Then, focus on the areas that show the most tarnish. Revisit these areas several times, gently buffing and adding fresh salt to the lemon half as needed. When you feel like you've stopped seeing as much dirt and tarnish stripping away, it's time to rinse. Run the menorah under warm water until all the lemon juice and salt have been thoroughly washed away. Let it air dry and then use your microfiber cloth to buff it to a high shine. 

Cleaning a heavily-tarnished brass menorah

If your brass menorah is more than just a little tarnished and needs some serious help this holiday season, you can still clean it up using the same natural cleaning ingredients, i.e. lemons and salt. In the case of a heavily-tarnished menorah, however, you'll need to utilize the ingredients in a different way. Rather than applying the salt directly to the lemon and applying the lemon directly to the menorah, make a cleaning solution paste in a bowl. This will be applied to the surface of the menorah for half an hour, allowing the acidic nature of the lemon to work away at the tarnish for a longer amount of time.

In the bowl, juice your lemons using your hands or a juicer — you should use about ¼ cup of lemon juice. Then, gradually stir in about 1 cup of salt until the mixture turns into a paste. After removing any melted wax from your menorah, apply the paste to the entire brass piece and let it sit for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes have passed, dampen your soft cloth or sponge and gently scrub the menorah's surface. Then, rinse it thoroughly with warm water and let it air dry. Once dry, buff the menorah with a microfiber towel and enjoy its restored beauty and shine.