Why Is The Oil Rubbed Bronze Finish Coming Off My Faucet?

The rich, chocolatey color of oil-rubbed bronze, topped with shiny hints of bronze peeking through, is a beautiful combination. Many folks appreciate the contrast between the two hues, choosing to integrate the finish into their homes – whether it’s the faucets in your bathroom, the hardware on your kitchen cabinets, or other fixtures. 

However, over time, the finish may begin to wear away. There are a few reasons this happens, but luckily, it might be reversible. Continue reading to learn more about restoring the beautiful finish on your oil-rubbed bronze fixtures. 

Why Is The Oil-Rubbed Bronze Finish Wearing Off My Faucet?

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Oil-rubbed bronze faucets are created by rubbing a dark oil solution over copper plating. Generally, the base underneath the plating is made of brass or a similar metal. The combination of the oil and the copper plating creates a deep, stunning hue with streaks of copper peeking through. 

Over time, the oil solution wears down, giving the fixture an aged, antique look. However, in order to preserve the dark color of the faucet, proper care is essential. Certain chemicals and products can damage the surface, causing discoloration and a worn-out finish. 

In some cases, your faucet might turn green after you clean it. This is usually the result of the wrong chemicals used for cleaning. The bronze oxidizes over time, but the addition of chemicals can mess up this process. 

Can You Restore Oil-Rubbed Bonze?

If you have oil-rubbed bronze fixtures or faucets that are beginning to lose their finish, you might be able to restore them. Thankfully, it’s a relatively straightforward process that won’t cost hundreds of dollars. 

You might already have some of these materials on hand, but if not, they shouldn’t be overly expensive. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Warm water
  • Soft cloths
  • Furniture wax or beeswax
  • Mineral oil
  • Cotton balls

First things first, start by cleaning the faucet or fixture to remove any dust. Using a clean, soft cloth, gently buff away any dust or dirt. Don’t use harsh cleaners, as this can further damage the finish. For extra cleaning, simply dampen the cloth with warm water and gently wipe away stubborn dirt and dust.

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Once you finish cleaning the faucet, allow the surface to dry completely. After the surface is dry to the touch, apply a small amount of furniture wax to a soft cloth. Alternatively, use a small amount of beeswax. It will help restore the luster and original beauty of the bronze. If you can’t find beeswax at stores in your area, furniture wax will do the trick.

Massage the wax into the surface of the bronze using circular motions. If there are small scratches or dings on the surface, focus on those areas. Rub the wax into the scratches until they’re no longer easily visible. 

Allow the wax to set for a few minutes, then wipe away any excess with a dry, clean cloth. Using that same cloth, buff the surface to remove any excess and ensure there’s no residue on the faucet. To restore the faucet’s luster, saturate a cotton ball with mineral oil, then rub it over the surface of the faucet. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Shouldn’t I Use On Oil-Rubbed Bronze?

Oil-rubbed bronze faucets and fixtures feature a somewhat finicky finish. If you use the wrong chemicals or cleaners, you might damage the surface of the fixture, potentially causing irreversible damage. You should steer clear of harsh or caustic cleaners, like those containing bleach or limescale removers. 

Additionally, avoid using abrasive sponges, which will leave small scratches on the surface of the bronze. 

What Should I Use To Clean Oil-Rubbed Bronze?

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Instead of reaching for caustic chemical cocktails to clean your oil-rubbed bronze faucet, opt for something more natural or mild. Mild dish soap, like Dawn dish detergent, mixed with warm water, is great for general cleaning. Use a soft cloth or sponge to rub the mixture into the faucet’s surface, avoiding abrasive sponges like steel wool. 

Mildly-abrasive cleaners, like Bar Keeper’s Friend, are usually safe for use on oil-rubbed bronze, but avoid using anything harsher. Vinegar can help cut stubborn water stains and mineral deposits, which may build up on the surface of the fixture, leaving unattractive, eye-catching marks. For more on removing annoying mineral deposits from your faucet, read through our guide

After you clean your oil-rubbed bronze faucet, make sure you wipe the surface down with a soft cloth. Ensure the surface is dry after you’re done, as water droplets left to dry can leave mineral deposits on the surface. 

Can You Remove Oxidation From Oil-Rubbed Bronze?

Yes, oxidation is removable from your oil-rubbed bronze faucet. You might notice greenish marks on your tap, which is the result of a chemical reaction called oxidation. This happens when the copper (brass is made of copper and zinc) within the faucet reacts with oxygen in the air and water. 

To remove oxidation from your oil-rubbed bronze faucet without the help of chemical cleaners, you’ll need baking soda, lemon juice, warm, clean water, and a few clean, soft cloths. Make a paste using baking soda and lemon juice, then apply it to the sections of the faucet with oxidation. 

Rub it into the surface with a soft cloth, then rinse it clean with warm water. Be sure to remove all of the residue from the paste. If the marks persist, you might have to repeat the process a few times to remove the oxidation entirely.

To read more about the general care and maintenance for oil-rubbed bronze faucets and fixtures, click here to read through our guide.

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