When it comes to bright, shiny metal finishes, it’s hard to beat chrome. That’s why you’ll find it on everything from bathroom fixtures to outdoor furniture to car wheels and bumpers. But if chrome surfaces aren’t properly cared for, they can tarnish over time and even eventually develop rust. Fortunately, keeping chrome clean so it maintains its shine isn’t a difficult task. All it requires is a little time and some elbow grease.
How to Clean Chrome
- Soap and Water
When it comes to helping keep your chrome shiny, regular cleanings are going to be the best approach. For chrome that is cleaned on a regular basis, a little dish soap and some warm water work just as well as commercial chrome cleaners to keep it shiny. Simply dip a soft rag into warm, soapy water and wipe any grime away. To get into tight spots in chrome surfaces, a soft toothbrush can be used for cleaning as well. After you’ve cleaned your chrome, simply rinse with warm water in order to remove any remaining soap. Then be sure to dry it thoroughly to prevent water spots from forming.
If soap and water aren't working well enough to get your chrome clean, or if it hasn’t been cleaned on a regular basis, try using vinegar. Vinegar is acidic and cuts through dirt and grime that soap can't. To use it, simply dampen your rag with vinegar and start polishing. No rinsing is required, and you don’t have to worry about water spots.
Like vinegar, soda is effective at cleaning chrome because it is acidic. It works well to cut through grease and grime, but it does leave behind a sticky residue. If you choose to clean your chrome with soda, you'll need to wash it again in warm, soapy water when you're done, then rinse and dry. This adds an extra step to the cleaning process, but leaves chrome clean and shiny.
- Aluminum Foil
If your chrome is badly tarnished or rusty, try cleaning it with aluminum foil. Simply cut a square of foil and crumple it a bit before dipping into warm soapy water or vinegar. Use the foil much like you would a scrub brush, rubbing it over the chrome while applying light pressure. Keep the foil wet as you work, dipping it into your cleaning solution frequently. If the foil starts to tear or becomes covered in large bits of grime, cut a fresh piece to use. When you’re done, rise the chrome with warm water and dry with a soft rag.
- Commercial Chrome Polish
If your chrome is exceptionally dirty or rusty, home cleaners may not be able to get it back to new. Commercial chrome polishes and restoring kits are available at many home improvement stores and online. However, you will need to be sure to read the directions carefully and follow all instructions. Unlike household products, commercial chrome cleaning products can be quite toxic and often require special precautions like gloves and a mask, as well as plenty of ventilation.
Once you have your chrome cleaned and dried, it is a good idea to apply a carnauba-oil based automotive wax. Apply at least two coats, buffing in between. The first coat will help fill small scratches, and the second will add more shine as well as protective layer to resist dirt and rust.
What NOT to do When Cleaning Chrome
Although it lasts a long time with proper care, chrome is a soft metal and can be easily damaged. When cleaning chrome, never use abrasive cleansers or brushes with stiff bristles. Even a scouring pad can cause damage, so choose your chrome-cleaning tools carefully.
If you’re looking for a quality vinegar to help keep your chrome surfaces clean, try our Green Gobbler 30% Vinegar! A safe and all-natural cleaning option, our 30% vinegar can tackle all sorts of cleaning chores around your home. And unlike most cleaners, vinegar is naturally non-toxic, biodegradable, and non-caustic, which means you never have to worry about using harmful products to clean your chrome surfaces. Give it a try today, and see how easy it is to use vinegar to keep chrome shiny for years to come!