How to Clean Old Furniture Hardware

Are you tired of looking at your old furniture hardware and seeing years of grime and build-up? Whether you’re repairing old furniture or just wanting to give your pieces a fresh, clean look, knowing how to clean old furniture hardware is an important skill.

Not only will you be able to improve the appearance of your furniture, but cleaning and restoring old hardware can also help prolong its lifespan.

painted furniture hinges

Over time, dust, dirt, and grime can accumulate on the surface of hardware pieces. This can be especially true if they are frequently touched or used.

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Additionally, exposure to air and moisture can cause metals to oxidize and tarnish, leaving behind a dull and dirty appearance.

They definitely need some cleaning and restoration if you want to keep your furniture looking its best.

Today I’m sharing a super easy and quick way to clean old furniture hardware. This works for tarnished hardware and hardware that has old paint on it.

And it’s the best way that I have found to clean furniture hardware without spending a ton of time scrubbing.

Supplies Used to Clean Old Furniture Hardware

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How to Clean Old Furniture Hardware

Follow the simple process below to bring new life back into your old and tarnished furniture hardware!

Remove the Hardware From Furniture

First, remove the hardware from your furniture if you haven’t already. I absolutely love using this little electric screwdriver to remove all of it instead of using a manual screwdriver.

It’s super helpful and handy when you have to remove a bunch of hardware in tight spaces.

Boil Hardware in Water

Then put it all in a pot of water and bring it to a boil.

hardware in boiling pot of water

I use this old pan I got at the thrift store so I don’t ruin my nice pots and pans. And I think it’s just a little bit gross to use the pans I regularly cook in. Maybe that’s just me though!

I let the hardware boil in the water for about 5 minutes and then I remove the pan from the heat. (You can add some vinegar to the water too to help it cut through whatever is on your hardware. I find water to be just fine though.)

after boiling hardware in water for 5 minutes

Then grab the hardware out of the pan with some tongs or something similar and bring them over to your sink.

Scrub Hardware Clean

Then sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend all over one or two pieces of hardware and let it sit for about 30 seconds. This stuff is the secret sauce!

sprinkling bar keepers friend on the hardware
bar keepers friend powdered version

It comes in either a powder version or a liquid version. I’ve used both with success! Then start scrubbing the grime away with a scrubbing sponge or a toothbrush.

scrubbing the hardware with a scrubbing sponge

For really tough spots you can use really fine steel wool, but for this hardware, I stuck with the regular ole toothbrush.

How Long Do You Have To Scrub Hardware?

Each piece of hardware took me a couple of minutes to scrub clean, and I left a little bit of the old patina in the details to make it pop a little bit.

If you don’t want to boil the hardware, you can also get away with just getting it wet, and then sprinkling on the bar keepers friend and scrubbing.

I tested it out on one or two of these pieces, and it just took longer to scrub them clean when I didn’t boil them first.

I also have tried to just boil the hardware and not use any Bar Keepers Friend, but it just doesn’t work very well.

Rinse Hardware

Once it’s clean, rinse off the Bar Keepers Friend, and let it dry.

rinsing off Bar Keepers Friend and dirt from the hardware

That’s all there is to it! You could also decide to paint the hardware with a fresh new look like we did with these Benjamin Moore Advance nightstands.

Watch the video of the process here:

So here’s what they looked like before and after a good cleaning.

brass hardware before and after cleaning

And here’s what they look like on the dresser after we painted it. Check out this dark green chalk painted dresser makeover here.

closeup of cleaned brass hardware on green dresser
cleaned brass hardware on dark green painted dresser

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

How often should I clean my old furniture hardware?

It’s recommended to clean your old furniture hardware at least every month by wiping it down with a damp cloth to remove any gunk. This will prevent too much gunk from building up over time.

However, if you’re wondering how often you need to do a deep clean on your furniture hardware, that is a different story.

It depends on what your hardware’s finish is and how much usage your furniture hardware gets on a day to day basis.

For the most part, you do not have to worry about doing this deep cleaning on your furniture in a routine manner. When it looks tarnished, or you are ready for a new look, give it a deep clean.

Overall, the key is to regularly inspect your old furniture hardware and clean it whenever necessary to keep it looking its best.

A little bit of maintenance can go a long way in preserving the beauty and functionality of your furniture.

How do I prevent my furniture hardware from tarnishing?

One of the best ways to prevent your furniture hardware from tarnishing is to seal it with a protective coat.

You can use clear polyurethane or wax to create a barrier between the hardware and any potential sources of damage, such as moisture or air.

You can also avoid the tarnishing by not handling them with wet or dirty hands. This will help prevent any buildup of oils or grime, which can cause tarnishing over time.

Additionally, try to keep your furniture in a dry and cool environment to minimize exposure to humidity and prevent rusting.

Yes, you can easily bring back your furniture hardware’s original shine and charm with a simple cleaning process.

By boiling the hardware and scrubbing it with Bar Keepers Friend, you can remove years of dirt and grime buildup.

Remember to clean your hardware at least once a year to keep it at its best. And don’t forget to seal the hardware with a protective coat to prevent tarnishing in the future.

How To Clean Old Furniture Hardware

before and after of cleaning furniture hardware

Easily transform your old hardware just by cleaning it up. Here's how to clean old furniture hardware.


  1. First, remove the hardware you want to clean from your furniture.
  2. Put your hardware in a pot of water and let it boil for about 5 minutes. You may also add vinegar to the water to help it cut through whatever is on your hardware.
  3. Sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend all over the hardware and let sit for about 30 seconds.
  4. Start scrubbing the grime away with a scrubbing sponge or a toothbrush. For really tough spots you can use really fine steel wool.
  5. Once the hardware is clean, rinse off the Bar Keepers Friend, and let it dry.
  6. You can leave it as is or paint the hardware for a fresh new look!

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hardware in boiling pot of water and comparison of hardware before and after cleaning
cleaning furniture hardware by bioling it and using bar keepers friend

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