How To Clean Brass Beer Taps

Antique beer taps, brass beer taps with oak handles, solid brass or brass-plated taps all look wonderful in your bar, but at some point, you’re going to have to figure out how to clean brass beer taps if you want your bar to stay looking sharp. The process isn’t that hard. In fact, unless your tap is really tarnished and grimy, it should only take you a few moments every couple of weeks.

If you just need to wipe and polish your new brass taps to keep them shiny, a weak solution of one part vinegar or ammonia to three parts water is all you need. Wipe the taps with solution, dry, and polish with a clean white cloth. However, if you need to remove tarnish or otherwise really clean your beer taps, follow the steps listed below. This process will clean and polish your taps without the use of commercial chemicals or pastes that can leave a residue that affects the flavor of your beer.

What you’ll need:

  • One or two white cotton cloths and one yellow polishing cloth
  • Two or three white cotton cloths
  • Boiled Linseed Oil
  • Warm water
  • Mild Soap
  • Sponge
  • Q-tips
  1. Remove your taps. Wash in warm, soapy water with a soft sponge to remove surface dirt. Use Q-tips or a small soft bristled brush to get the inside ridges of the tap, if needed.
  2. Dry your taps thoroughly with a clean white cotton cloth. You’re going to apply a thin coat of oil in the next steps and we all know oil and water don’t mix, so be sure to dry them completely.
  3. For this next step, you can use a pre-oiled yellow polishing cloth, or a plain white cotton cloth with a little boiled linseed oil poured onto the cloth. In this case, less is definitely more. The idea is to apply a very thin coat of oil to the entire surface of the brass tap. Too much oil will make fingerprints and smudges more obvious.
  4. Wipe down the entire surface of the tap with either the yellow cloth or the white cloth with linseed oil applied. Wipe until all tarnish is removed. Be sure to polish away all smudges and dry spots. You may opt to wipe any excess linseed oil with another clean white cloth. Linseed oil acts as a natural tarnish retardant, so it will help to slow future tarnishing.


  • Olive oil is another natural tarnish retardant for routine polishing.
  • For heavily tarnished taps, try scrubbing with a lemon slice dipped in table salt before applying the linseed oil. For the best results, do not use a circular motion to scrub brass. Go with the grain of the metal for best results. Circular motions are fine for polishing, just not scrubbing.


  • Antique brass will have a mellow aged color to it. If you want to retain that mellowing, do NOT use commercial brass polish/tarnish remover as these may also remove the mellow color, in addition to the tarnish.
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