Brushed nickel is a popular metal finish found in many homes. Over time it can tarnish, spot and lose its luster. Keeping brushed nickel clean not only makes it look its best but also helps prevent corrosion and deterioration.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Clean brushed nickel regularly by using a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap. Gently wipe in the direction of the brush lines, rinse and dry.

For stubborn dirt or tarnish, use a nickel-safe polish.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know to clean brushed nickel properly and keep it looking beautiful.

Understanding Brushed Nickel Finishes

Brushed nickel is a popular finish for various household fixtures and accessories due to its sleek and modern look. Understanding the process of creating brushed nickel finishes, the benefits it offers, and the maintenance needs it requires can help you make informed decisions about incorporating this finish into your home.

The Brushing Process

The brushing process is an essential step in creating the distinctive appearance of brushed nickel. It involves using abrasive materials, such as wire brushes or sandpaper, to create fine linear or circular grooves on the surface of the metal.

This technique gives brushed nickel its unique texture and helps to hide fingerprints and water spots.

During the brushing process, the metal is often treated with a clear protective coating to enhance its durability and resistance to corrosion. This coating also helps to maintain the brushed appearance over time, preventing the finish from becoming shiny or polished.

Benefits of Brushed Nickel

One of the main benefits of brushed nickel is its ability to complement a wide range of design styles. Whether your home has a contemporary, traditional, or transitional aesthetic, brushed nickel can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to any space.

Additionally, brushed nickel finishes are known for their durability and resistance to tarnishing. Unlike other finishes that may show signs of wear and tear over time, brushed nickel retains its original appearance for years, making it a cost-effective choice for long-term use.

Furthermore, the textured surface of brushed nickel helps to conceal minor scratches and imperfections, making it a practical choice for high-traffic areas in your home.

Maintenance Needs

Maintaining brushed nickel finishes is relatively simple and straightforward. Regular dusting with a soft cloth is usually sufficient to remove any surface dirt or debris. For more stubborn stains or fingerprints, a mild soap and water solution can be used.

It’s important to avoid harsh cleaning agents or abrasive materials, as they can damage the protective coating and alter the appearance of the finish.

To maintain the longevity of your brushed nickel fixtures, it’s recommended to avoid using abrasive sponges or scrub brushes during cleaning. Instead, opt for soft cloths or non-abrasive cleaning tools to prevent scratching the surface.

Supplies for Cleaning Brushed Nickel

When it comes to cleaning brushed nickel, having the right supplies is essential. Here are some of the items you will need to effectively clean this type of metal:

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are a must-have for cleaning brushed nickel. They are soft, non-abrasive, and won’t scratch or damage the metal surface. These cloths are great for removing dust, fingerprints, and other debris from your brushed nickel fixtures.

Remember to use gentle, circular motions when cleaning to avoid leaving streaks behind.

Mild Dish Soap

Mild dish soap is another essential item for cleaning brushed nickel. It is effective in removing grease and grime without causing any damage. Dilute a small amount of dish soap in warm water and use a microfiber cloth to gently clean the surface.

Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth to prevent water spots.


Vinegar is a natural and inexpensive cleaning solution that can be used on brushed nickel. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean the metal surface. Vinegar is particularly useful for removing hard water stains and mineral deposits.

Simply spray the solution onto the surface, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile cleaning agent that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including brushed nickel. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with water, and then apply it to the metal surface. Gently scrub the area with a soft cloth or sponge, and rinse thoroughly.

Baking soda is effective in removing stubborn stains and tarnish from brushed nickel fixtures.

Nickel Polishes

If your brushed nickel fixtures have become tarnished or dull, using a nickel polish can help restore their shine. There are various nickel polishes available on the market specifically designed for cleaning and polishing this type of metal.

Follow the instructions on the product packaging for best results. Remember to test the polish on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire surface.

By having these supplies on hand, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your brushed nickel fixtures looking their best. Regular cleaning and maintenance will help prevent tarnish and keep your fixtures sparkling for years to come.

Cleaning Methods for Brushed Nickel

Regular Dusting and Wiping

One of the simplest and most effective ways to clean brushed nickel is through regular dusting and wiping. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth to gently remove dust and dirt from the surface of the nickel.

Regular dusting helps prevent the buildup of grime and keeps the brushed nickel looking shiny and polished. Remember to avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that could damage the finish of the metal.

Soap and Water Cleaning

If the brushed nickel needs a deeper clean, you can use a solution of mild soap and warm water. Mix a few drops of gentle dish soap with warm water in a bucket or sink. Dampen a soft cloth in the soapy water and gently scrub the nickel surface.

Rinse the cloth with clean water and wipe away any soapy residue. Finally, dry the brushed nickel with a clean, dry cloth to prevent water spots or streaks.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

If you’re dealing with tougher stains or mineral deposits on the brushed nickel, you can try using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Create a paste by mixing equal parts vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl. Apply the paste to the stained areas and let it sit for a few minutes.

Then, gently scrub the surface with a soft cloth or a non-abrasive brush. Rinse the brushed nickel with clean water and dry it thoroughly.

Nickel Polish for Tough Stains

For stubborn stains or scratches on brushed nickel, a specialized nickel polish can be used. Apply a small amount of the polish to a soft cloth and gently rub it onto the stained or scratched area. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific polish you are using.

Be sure to test the polish on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it does not damage the brushed nickel. After polishing, wipe away any excess polish and buff the surface to a shine.

Remember, always check the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning and maintaining brushed nickel surfaces. It’s also important to test any cleaning solution or polish on a small area before applying it to the entire surface.

For more information and tips on cleaning brushed nickel, you can visit websites like Home Depot or Bob Vila.

Caring for Brushed Nickel Long-Term

Brushed nickel is a popular choice for fixtures and hardware due to its sleek and modern appearance. To ensure that your brushed nickel items retain their beauty and durability for years to come, it’s important to implement a long-term care routine.

Here are some essential tips for caring for brushed nickel:

Preventative Cleaning

Regular cleaning is crucial to prevent the buildup of dirt, grime, and fingerprints on your brushed nickel surfaces. A simple solution of warm water and mild dish soap can be used to clean most brushed nickel items.

Gently wipe the surface with a soft cloth or sponge, and remember to dry thoroughly to prevent water spots. For stubborn stains or dirt, a non-abrasive cleaner specifically designed for brushed nickel can be used.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

When cleaning brushed nickel, it’s important to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the finish. Avoid products that contain ammonia, bleach, or acids, as these can cause discoloration or etching. Instead, opt for gentle cleaning solutions or natural alternatives.

Vinegar diluted with water or lemon juice can be effective at removing tough stains without harming the brushed nickel surface.

Protect from Moisture

Moisture can be detrimental to brushed nickel, as it can cause corrosion or rusting over time. To protect your brushed nickel items from moisture, be sure to wipe them dry after each use. This is especially important for items in the bathroom, such as faucets and shower fixtures.

Additionally, avoid exposing brushed nickel items to excessive humidity or prolonged contact with water.

Re-brush Severely Damaged Areas

If your brushed nickel items have severely damaged areas, such as scratches or scuffs, they can be re-brushed to restore their appearance. This process involves using a brush made specifically for brushed nickel surfaces to create a consistent brushed pattern.

However, re-brushing should only be attempted by professionals or individuals with experience in refinishing metal surfaces.

By following these tips for caring for brushed nickel long-term, you can keep your fixtures and hardware looking great and functioning properly for years to come.

When to Call a Professional

Cleaning brushed nickel can typically be done on your own with a few simple steps and the right cleaning products. However, there are certain situations where it may be necessary to call a professional for assistance. Here are a few instances where it is best to leave the job to the experts:

Extensive Pitting or Corrosion

If you notice extensive pitting or corrosion on your brushed nickel surfaces, it may be a sign of underlying damage that requires professional attention. Pitting refers to small holes or indentations in the metal, while corrosion is the result of chemical reactions that cause the metal to deteriorate.

These issues can be challenging to address without the proper tools and expertise. A professional cleaner will have the knowledge and experience to assess the damage and recommend the best course of action.

Previous Damage from Harsh Chemicals

Using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on brushed nickel surfaces can cause irreversible damage. If you have previously used such products and notice signs of discoloration or deterioration, it is essential to seek professional help.

Attempting to clean the surfaces further on your own may worsen the damage and potentially lead to costly repairs or replacements. A professional cleaner will have the expertise to assess the extent of the damage and provide appropriate solutions to restore the appearance of your brushed nickel.

Major Discoloration Issues

If your brushed nickel surfaces have major discoloration issues that cannot be resolved with regular cleaning methods, it may be time to reach out to a professional cleaner. Discoloration can occur due to various factors, including water stains, mineral deposits, or chemical reactions.

A professional cleaner will have access to specialized cleaning agents and techniques to effectively remove the discoloration without causing further damage to the metal. They can also provide recommendations on preventive measures to maintain the appearance of your brushed nickel surfaces in the future.

Remember, while it is possible to clean brushed nickel yourself in most cases, there are situations where calling a professional is the wisest choice. By doing so, you can ensure that the proper steps are taken to address any underlying issues and restore the beauty of your brushed nickel surfaces.


With proper care and regular cleaning, brushed nickel can maintain its beautiful appearance for years. By using gentle cleaners and polishes designed for nickel, you can keep your fixtures, appliances and hardware looking their best.

Avoid abrasive scrubbers or harsh chemicals that could damage the finish. With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge to clean and care for brushed nickel in your home.

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