How to Care for a Brass Sink
There is no doubt about it; the number one commented upon item in our new kitchen is the brass apron sink, and that doesn’t surprise me. Being an enneagram 4 (the individualist), I am naturally attracted to things that are different, pieces I have never seen in anyone else’s home. I remember years ago when I worked as a manager for Abercrombie & Fitch, and these plaid bell bottom pants arrived for the winter season. All of my employees were bashing them, and exclaiming how hideous they were. Not this girl… no one else liked them, so I responded with, “Ring me up please! One pair of crazy plaid pants!” I wore those pants proudly, and my employees complimented me and several ended up buying them as well. Now, I am no fashionista at all and the point isn’t to tell you that I start trends, because I definitely do now. I just want you to understand my mentality… I just really enjoy doing things differently. That even affects my motivation. If everyone tells me something is a stupid idea and it will look terrible, that lights my fire to go and do exactly that thing. Perhaps I shouldn’t even write that statement, because now you’ll all be able to get me to do what you want. 😉 Luckily Chris doesn’t read my blog so I think I am safe, and to be honest, I am pretty sure my parents already know about this character
trait flaw. But enough about me… back to this sink! Because not many people have seen a brass kitchen sink, there have been a lot of questions with how I care for it, so today I am going to tell you all about what we do to clean and care for our brass beauty. (This blog uses affiliate links as well as amazon associate links).
First of all, before we talk about the cleaning process that I go through, I want to dive into patina. Webster defines patina as “a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color” or “a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use.” Brass is a metal that will develop a patina over time, and will go rather quickly from a shiny metal to a brownish toned down finish. When I originally visited Thompson Traders and saw the brass sink in person for the first time, I was able to see two different looks of the same exact sink model.
You can see the difference here in the showroom between the sink that has the brand new finish (top) compared to the lower level sink that has a bit of patina. Thompson Traders actually refers to this as a living finish because it will continue to patina over time. I love the darker look the brass takes with wear, and you can see a but of that look here in this photo from Christmas.
However, a month later for the kitchen reveal. I decided to take it back to its shinier finish with just a tiny bit of effort. I love it both ways, to be honest, but I wanted to show it in its “new” looking state for the reveal.
There is really no wrong way to leave your brass sink (aside from just dirty…). You can allow it to patina over time, or you can go for the shinier look, and you can clean that patina away at any time, which is what I am going to show you next.
One note here: I did reach out to Thompson Traders to ask what they recommend, and they said that if you’d like to preserve your shine, and slow the patina process, you can use a paste wax on your sink. They recommended using Johnson Paste Wax. This choice is totally personal! I opt not to do this step, because I worked with paste wax on furniture for years, and I really didn’t care for the smell or toxicity of this particular brand. I don’t mind the patina, and I don’t mind cleaning my sink more often.
Cleaning Your Brass Sink
Items & Tools Needed
- bar keeper’s friend
- soft sponge (not the scrubby side!)
- cleaning gloves (you will note in the video I am not wearing any… If they could talk, my dried cracked hands would tell you not to make the same mistake.)
Another little note here: I use bar keeper’s friend and have used it to clean brass for years. I love the ease of using it, and love that it’s bleach free. In fact, I shared all about how I used it to clean vintage brass items here. Thompson Traders recommended Wright’s copper cream cleaner. I have no experience with this product, but from the reviews on Amazon, it looks like it’s pretty easy to use as well.
Before I cleaned the sink, it had developed a lot of patina, and this is just in the matter of a couple of weeks. It was clean in this photo (minus a stray tomato seed… whoops!), but it was wearing its living patina.
Enter bar keeper’s friend!
All I had to do was sprinkle the damp sink with bar keeper’s friend, and use the soft side of my slightly damp sponge to clean. I typically move my sponge in circles, and it takes no time at all to get back to its original shine. Then I take my spray faucet, and simply rinse all around. The whole sink takes less than 5 minutes to clean well and requires minimal effort. In fact, the sponge dripped a bit over the edge of the apron front and you can see that it cleans with no effort as it drips down. I took this photo of the two clean shiny drip makes just so you could see what I mean.
I made a quick video for you, just about a minute long, so you could see the process and just how easy it is!
After I was done, the inside of the sink looked just like this…
It’s a pretty incredible difference from the before and just a few easy minutes of light effort.
I have always loved shiny gold things, and used to collect brass animals like crazy… it’s always been a metal that I’ve appreciated (even way back to that white and brass daybed of my childhood. 😉 ). I had never given it a thought as a kitchen sink until I saw it in person myself. In my opinion, they are timeless and classic, and can create a modern or more farmhouse look based on whatever type of finish is maintained. As I’ve just shown you, maintenance is a lot easier than you probably thought it was. It certainly was much easier than I expected it to be, but the effort would have been worth it anyhow! It’s just a nice surprise that it’s so easy. If you’re considering a brass sink, you can find the Thompson Traders brass apron sink here.