How to Clean Door Handles

Cleaning door handles has always been important, but over the last year, we’ve all become increasingly aware of the reasons why it’s a task we should be doing regularly. The pandemic has taught us all to wash our hands – but let’s apply that to the hardware we, and those around us, touch on a regular basis, too.

Even without concerns of a virus on your door handles, there’s the unfortunate fact that, over the lifetime of a door’s hardware, they’ll pick up general grime. This will eventually result in tarnishing, making the door handles look old, unclean, and a bit of an eyesore. A regular cleaning habit will ensure the handles look their best for longer.

The process of cleaning door handles will depend on the material they’re manufactured from. Different materials will react to cleaning products badly if they’re not suitable. So to help you avoid this, here at Handles4Homes, we’ve broken down exactly how to clean your door handles based on what they’re made of.

Cleaning brass and copper door handles

Brass/Bronze/Copper Door Handles

Cleaning copper, bronze, or brass door handles is a fairly similar process. These metals are typically used in traditional door handles and have featured in many homes for many years. These handles look fantastic but are unfortunately prone to tarnishing.

Fortunately, this tarnishing process is easy to combat if you’re willing to put the effort in. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to make a cleaning paste for your brass, bronze, and copper handles.

  1. Take a bowl and mix together a single tablespoon of flour, one of salt, and another tablespoon of vinegar. Mixing thoroughly will result in a thick paste. 
  2. Apply this paste to your handles, everywhere that you’d like to clean. 
  3. After two or three minutes, use hot soapy water to remove the paste from your handles, and then buff the metal with a soft cloth to get brand new door handles.

Of course, if you have antique brass or bronze handles, then don’t go too overboard on the buffing!

Cleaning chrome and nickel door handles

Cleaning Chrome and Nickel Door Handles

Chrome door handles and nickel door handles are a much more modern style for your home and have become increasingly popular over time. These metal finishes often have a burnished or patterned look that we don’t want to remove.

Staying away from harsh cleaning chemicals is a great idea for chrome and nickel door handles. In fact, all you’re really going to need is warm water, soap, a soft cloth, and potentially some wax.

  1. Mixing your warm water and soap together, soak a soft cloth (we prefer microfibre cloths) in the water and rub over the metal.
  2. Once you’ve cleaned the whole surface, use a second, dry, soft cloth to remove the remaining moisture. 
  3. After drying your chrome and nickel handles, you can apply a wax to the surface with a third cloth to ensure that you’re protecting the hardware from grime, dirt, and dust in future. Make sure that your wax is non-abrasive.
Cleaning pewter door handles

Cleaning Pewter Door Handles

Pewter is extremely hard-wearing metal. It generally will not deteriorate. There is a good chance of dirt deposits building up over a long period of time, however, and so using warm soapy water to remove any dirt build-up will ensure that the pewter stays pristine for as long as possible.

Occasionally, an all-purpose (non-silver) metal polish can be used on pewter to make it look its best. However, if you’ve purchased a pewter door handle that has a patina that makes it look antique, then this step is not necessary.

Cleaning stainless steal door handles

Taking care of Stainless Steel Door Handles

Stainless steel is a fantastic metal for door handles, and unlike other materials, cannot wear away with excessive cleaning. The way that stainless steel protects itself from corrosion is actually the chromium added to the steel, which bonds with oxygen in the air (which would normally cause rust in iron-based metals) to form a passive barrier of chromium oxide on the surface of your stainless steel door handles.

However, when stainless steel has foreign bodies and substances on the surface, dirt or oils from hands, for example, it’s actually possible to reduce the effectiveness of this natural chromium oxide layer. Cleaning your stainless steel is essential to the longevity of the material.

  • Regularly clean your stainless steel surfaces with a soft cloth and warm water mixed with a mild detergent or soap.
  • For stubborn stains or dirt, use a mild, non-scratching abrasive powder such as typical household cleaners. A more aggressive form of sponge, cloth, or bristled brush can be used here. However, steel wool and carbon steel brushes should be avoided, as they can leave particles embedded in your stainless steel surfaces, leading to rusting over time.
  • For the most aggressive cleaning required, add a small amount of vinegar to your powder as you clean.
  • After you have cleaned your stainless steel surface, immediately rinse with hot water and dry with a clean cloth or towel.

This routine is recommended once a month, more only on surfaces that are more regularly handled. If routine maintenance is required for compliance with a guarantee, a maintenance log should be kept for each installation.

Cleaning cast iron and antique door handles

Cleaning Black Iron / Antique Handles

All types of iron are susceptible to rusting (oxidisation), cast or malleable. For your antique or black iron door handles, we recommend that over time you remove any harmful deposits that can cause corrosion by wiping over all areas of iron with a lightly oiled cloth.

Cleaning wooden door handles

Caring for Wooden Door Handles

Wood is a porous material, and it can absorb the substances placed on it rather easily. This is why all wooden door knobs and handles should be sealed, using wax or polish, and carefully maintained over time. To clean a solid wood door handle:

  • Use a simple solution of water and vinegar. A dry cloth should then be used to remove all moisture left on the handle.
  • If the stain or mark on the timber is more stubborn, consider a small amount of washing up liquid in water, but avoid using this method too frequently to ensure that the finish on the wood isn’t removed over time.
Cleaning crystal door handles

Cleaning Crystal & Glass Door Handles

While they add a stunning addition to a home, glass and crystal door handles require frequent cleaning. However, this can be done simply by using a damp cloth to remove dirt deposits, followed by drying with a soft lint-free cloth to a shine. 

Note: Avoid harsh chemical and glass cleaners as much as possible, and do not soak or immerse door furniture in water when cleaning.


Now you know how to clean door handles throughout your home, you can keep them looking their best for years to come. However, if cleaning your door handles hasn’t done the job or you simply want to give your doors a new look, check out our full range of door handles here at Handles4Home.

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