An oil-rubbed bronze faucet can be the perfect finishing touch to your new remodel. Shiny chrome and stainless steel used to be the hallmarks of luxury.
Today, more people seek the understated beauty of the aged antique look that oil-rubbed bronze gains over time.
Created by rubbing a dark oil solution over copper-plated hardware, oil-rubbed bronze is considered a “live finish”. The look changes as the oil fades.
Because of its changing nature, it can be susceptible to wear, including hard water spots. Properly cared for, oil-rubbed bronze can last and continue to look great for generations.
The key to keeping your bronze faucets looking fantastic is knowing how to clean them properly. If you have hard water, you will see mineral deposits which will cause discoloration and corrosion.
The best way to keep your faucet clean is to wipe it down after every use, with a soft cloth or paper towel.
There will be times you need a more in-depth cleaning, and there are a few DIY steps you can take that will minimize damage and wear.
Step 1: Start With Water
You will be able to get the majority of your cleaning done with just plain water on a soft cloth. The key to maintaining the look of oil-rubbed bronze fixtures is to clean as little as possible.
Vigorous cleaning and harsh chemicals will dramatically speed up the wear. Cleaning gently with appropriate cleansers will retain the beautiful patina.
Once you have wiped the faucet with your cloth, dry it immediately to help prevent any water spots.
Step 2: Scouring
If you have calcium stains, soap scum, build-up, or mineral deposits that do not come off with water alone, you may need to apply a bit of elbow grease. You can scrub the faucet with a non-abrasive sponge and water.
This can be very effective in removing hard water stains.
Never use anything abrasive, like steel wool, as it will scratch the bronze surface. It is preferable to still only use water; if you do use any other cleaner, always test it first on an inconspicuous area.
Step 3: Vinegar
If you have stubborn stains that persist after scouring with a soft sponge, you can try a white vinegar cleaning solution. Mix your vinegar one-to-one with water to tackle those persistent marks and hard water deposits.
Use a soft cloth to rub the vinegar mixture onto the fixture, or soak a paper towel in the solution and leave it sitting on your fixture for a few minutes. Vinegar is safe to use on bronze for short periods of time, but do not leave it soaking for long.
Remove the vinegar with plain warm water and a soft cloth.
Removing The Green
If your faucet develops a green patina, this is copper oxide. To tackle the oxidation, make a paste with two tablespoons of baking soda, adding lemon juice until you have a consistency like toothpaste.
Apply this to the green parts on your fixture and rub it in using a dry cloth.
Rinse off the paste with warm water. If the green persists, repeat the process.
Tips And Tricks
Although rubbed bronze is a robust finish, some solvents will damage it.
Avoid using alcohol or any scale removers.
Do not clean with bleach or bleach-based cleaners.
Avoid all-purpose bathroom cleaners.
Do not use any product that claims to remove rust or tarnish.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to attack persistent stains.
How To Maintain Your Bronze Finish
You can use a high-quality wax to help maintain the shine and protect against water stains. After applying the wax, use a small amount of clean oil to help the faucet retain its original color.
If you consistently wipe your faucet and remove water marks, you will rarely have to do any in-depth cleaning. Your oil-rubbed bronze finish will look beautiful for years to come!