How to Spruce Up and Clean Your Household Hardware

Whether you’re a cleaning fanatic or more laid back in your approach, you probably wipe down the surfaces and clean the touchpoints in your home regularly. A weekly wipe down of high touch areas can seriously help keep your family healthy.

But what about really cleaning that household hardware? After years of use, a weekly wipe off is probably not enough to keep doorknobs, pulls, and faucets looking their best and brightest. Not to mention the unsightly buildup of hard water, tarnish, and even rust that can accumulate over time.

Faucets, door handles, knobs, and pulls—these often-overlooked items in your home see a lot of action, but rarely get deep cleaned or shined up. Here’s how to clean household hardware to get every piece gleaming like new!

brushed nickel kitchen faucet with pulldown sprayer over large white sink plus text "How To Clean Household Hardware"

How to Clean Doorknobs, Handles, and Locks

Whether you live in an older home or a brand-new house, your doorknobs, handles, and locks can see a lot of activity. Think about how often your family touches these items—every time they walk in the room, a hand turns the knob or pulls the door handle.

But honestly, when was the last time you cleaned your front doorknob? Or even your bathroom doorknob? Most of us don’t focus on these items when we clean our house (even though they’re the most frequent touchpoints). Door handles, deadbolts, locks, knobs, and handles are a great starting point for any deep cleaning project.

For basic cleaning, almost any household hardware piece can be cleaned with a few drops of dishwashing liquid and warm water. Use a rag or an old, soft toothbrush to clean doorknobs. Dampen the cloth and then wipe the doorknob and hardware. Depending on the level of griminess, you may also need to use the toothbrush to scrub the nooks and crannies where dirt can get trapped. Once you’ve washed the hardware, thoroughly dry it to prevent rust.

You may need to use more robust cleaning methods for more severe soil levels, such as rust, tarnish, or grime. For squeaky hinges, oil will lubricate and silence the noise. Be sure to wipe up any extra oil to keep it from transferring to carpet, clothes, or tiny hands.

Oil may also help remove rust from hardware. Apply a small amount of oil to a rag and rub with pressure. I don’t recommend removing door hardware just for cleaning because it can be tough to get all the pieces back in place. If you do remove the hardware, or you’re attempting to restore already-removed hardware, don’t cover the hardware in liquid! If water gets into the locking mechanism or small mechanical components, it can damage or destroy the piece.

For grimy pieces, vinegar is another option to remove built-up dirt and gunk. Vinegar works well to remove tarnish from copper and brass hardware as well. You can make a paste of flour, salt, and vinegar. Rub it on the piece and then let it sit for several minutes. Wash it off with warm water and buff it with a cloth. Remember that vinegar is an acid, so proceed with caution; it can take the finish off some types of hardware. Test it on a small, inconspicuous area first.

Silver tarnished pieces can be cleaned and restored using a baking soda paste. Once again, test the mixture before slathering it over the doorknob, knocker, or handle. If it doesn’t seem to harm the finish, cover the piece with the paste and let it sit for a few hours. Then wipe off with warm water and polish dry with a soft cloth.

These tips should help you clean household hardware with ease and get those doorknobs looking bright, shiny, and brand new!

hands wearing blue rubber gloves holding a spray bottle and a rag and wiping a door handle

How to Clean Cupboard Pulls, Hinges, and Handles

Handles and other touchpoints should also be cleaned regularly. Now, most of us clean the faucet each time we clean the kitchen or bathroom—it’s part of our cleaning routine. Cupboard handles, drawer pulls, and knobs, on the other hand, are often ignored until they’re sticky, greasy, or downright gross.

In a kitchen (or bathroom), moisture, dust, and grease can build up and form a grungy paste covering almost every surface. Handles will start looking dull, blackened, and gross. A regular cleaning schedule will help keep them germ and gunk-free.

To clean your cupboard pulls and handles, you may want to take a screwdriver and remove them. I don’t suggest removing the hinges (they don’t tend to get as dirty anyway). Once the handles are removed, soak in the sink or a container in a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. When cleaning a few handles, I usually use three cups of vinegar to three cups of water. Soak the handles for at least a few hours, or even overnight.

Once the handles and pulls are done soaking, you can rinse them off with water and dishwashing soap, which will cut any remaining grease. Then give each piece a final rinse and use a soft cloth to dry and shine.

For any unremovable hardware, use a cloth dampened in warm soapy water. Scrub the surface of the hinge or latch, and then wipe off and dry to a shine. I made magnetic latches for our cupboards to keep the kitties out. You can use soap and water to clean these kinds of latches as well. Just be sure to dry everything thoroughly when you’re done.

If you have vintage handles, knobs, or other hardware in your house, always test the items first. You can clean silver with a baking soda paste (following the same process for doorknobs). You should clean brass with lemon juice or vinegar and water in a 50/50 ratio. You may need to really scrub or even use a toothbrush to get these items polished up (especially if they haven’t been cleaned for a long time). Small bottle brushes or pipe cleaners can be useful for cleaning out intricately detailed spaces. Always be sure to dry each piece completely to avoid water damage.

How to Clean Your Bathroom Faucet

Now, I know, like me, you clean your bathroom regularly. But if you’ve ever taken a critical look at your bathroom faucets, you may notice a few grimy areas that need some attention. Water and soap can build up underneath the faucet. The area surrounding the faucet and handles can be tricky to clean and sometimes gets overlooked. Additional gunk can build up inside the ball-style handle of the sink or shower faucet. Plus, hard water mineral residue may end up clogging up the sprayer of your sink and shower.

If you notice any of these issues in your bathroom, it’s time to do a deep clean!

Plain old soap and water or multipurpose cleaning spray will do the trick for the basic cleaning. Use a sponge or scrub brush so you can really get in the nooks and crannies of your sink. A toothbrush makes an excellent tool for cleaning the area behind the faucet and around the handles.

If your bathroom hardware is looking particularly grimy or you notice white mineral buildup around the fixtures, it may be time for a more in-depth approach. To deep clean your sink, consider removing the handles. If your sink handles feature the globe-style clear plastic covers, use a knife to pry off the flat piece on the end. From there, unscrew the handle and remove it so that you can give it a thorough cleaning.

Vinegar will remove most hard water and mineral staining. If your faucet is clogged or gunked with mineral deposits, try the simple trick of putting vinegar in a plastic bag. Affix the bag to the faucet using a rubber band and let it sit for several hours (even overnight). Once you remove the bag, rinse and scrub as usual. Your shower or sink faucet will be shiny, and the spray will be strong. No more clogs!

removable shower sprayer head soaking in vinegar in a ziploc bag

Eventually, you may need to replace the faucet, which is an easy DIY home project. I created a tutorial when I updated my bathroom faucet and I must admit, replacing it made a huge difference. The whole bathroom felt refreshed!

How to Clean Your Kitchen Faucet and Sink

The next bit of household hardware that I like to tackle is the kitchen faucet and sink. I find that kitchen sinks get particularly gross; the combination of grease, food, and water makes for a sink sludge that seems to lurk even after you wipe down your faucet and sink.

First of all, the biggest tip for keeping your kitchen faucet and sink clean is always to do your dishes and wipe the sink down afterward. When even a small amount of water sits around the fixtures, it can warp the surrounding countertop, rot the caulk around the sink, and lead to mildew and mold. When combined with food residue, your sink is the perfect storm for bacteria.

Each time you eat, rinse your dishes and put it in the dishwasher (or wash the dish by hand). Dry the dishes and put them away, then wipe down the sink. Be sure to wipe and dry behind the faucet—this narrow area is hard to reach and often gets gunky.

If your sink is looking dull with water spots or grime, take some time for deep cleaning. Like the bathroom faucet, you can usually clean these fixtures with a multipurpose cleaning spray or soap and water. Wash thoroughly and scrub using a brush or sponge. If you need more robust cleaning power, vinegar does the trick. A natural grease-cutter, vinegar is great for cleaning and shining up areas of the kitchen.

Like your bathroom faucet, your kitchen fixtures can likely be unscrewed and removed for more thorough cleaning. Clogs can be alleviated with the vinegar-in-a-bag trick, which will keep your kitchen sprayer powerful.

One word of caution—if you have special finishes on your kitchen hardware (vintage brass, brushed nickel, or plating), you may need to check the manufacturers’ instructions. Soap and water are safe for most kitchen surfaces but always do your research to make sure.

brushed nickel kitchen faucet with pulldown sprayer over large white sink

How to Touch Up Other Hardware in Your Home

Now that your faucets, knobs, and fixtures are gleaming, let’s talk about the other hardware around your home. For the most part, the tips outlined above will help you clean your household hardware in every room.

In your kitchen, the handles on your stove and fridge should be cleaned regularly. You can wipe these down with soap and water or multipurpose spray. A scrub brush or toothbrush is useful for getting into tight spots. Even a toothpick can help you to de-gunk the small cracks and crevices in these areas.

In the bedroom and living room, clean the drawer handles and shelving with a soft, damp cloth. If you’re sure about the material, you can use brass or silver polish to remove tarnish. If you’re unsure, test a small, inconspicuous area, or use a small amount of soapy water. Some older knobs are plated, and I’ve even seen knobs made of plastic and painted with metallic paint. Use caution that you don’t remove the finish when you’re cleaning.

If you’re anything like me, as soon as you start looking around your house, you’ll notice all kinds of hardware that need sprucing up. Once you’ve done a deep clean, touch up and clean your household hardware regularly as part of your monthly cleaning routine (more often for high touchpoints). With a regular schedule, the hardware around your house will stay bright, shiny, and looking like new!

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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