Revitalizing vintage brass door knockers

Mother Hen

published 01/22/2017

A few years ago we visited the Victorian mansion at Auburn Heights Preserve in Hockessin, Delaware, where I was intrigued by small, identical door knockers on interior doors. The owners of the mansion saw door knockers used in that manner on their travels in Europe and did the same in their home.

I decided to adopt this in my home as well, but with a slight twist. After searching for small door knockers, also called modesty or privacy knockers, I found a series of English brass dog breed themed knockers. I have been buying different breeds as I can find them. They are all "used", inexpensive, and some arived looking a bit sad.

Here is what I found seems to work fairly well for cleaning and polishing:

  • Soaking the knockers in a mixture of two parts white vinegar, one part water, for a few hours. If needed, I scrubbed with a toothbrush. After that I rinsed off the vinegar solution with water and allowed the knockers to completely dry. If you don't have vinegar, I have seen resources say lemon juice and tomato ketchup work.
  • Occasionally the knockers had laquer or gunk on them. Hot water seemed to help soften it, and I used a plastic pick to gently scrape, when absolutely necessary.
  • Polishing using Flitz Polish-Paste and cloths. Flitz recommends microfiber cloth. I used painter's rags, which are basically shredded t-shirts.

I found the Flitz Polish-Paste online. It works well, and per the manufacturer is non-toxic, though it has a strong odor.

Below you can see an example of before and after for one of the knockers. Of course your mileage may vary in improving the appearance of a vintage brass item. Also keep in mind too that some may value an old patina - and for a bronze sculpture or similar fine art item with an intentionally added patina, removing the patina can significantly decrease the value of an item and should not be done.

Before and After Knockers