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Question DetailsAsked on 6/19/2016

how to get cat urine stains off a brass floor lamp

I didnt notice it at first, now the base of the lamp is pitted with black stains.

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1 Answer


First try simple Dawn dishwashing liquid on a non-abrasive pad - used laundry anti-static sheets actually work pretty well for this. This would be to remvoe any surface staining or mold/mildew, if that is all it is. Windex window cleanear also works but can tarnish the metal so you need to minimize contact time and clear water rinse immediately after each pass before you take time to see how much is left.

Most brass furnishings are laquered or clear-coated with polyerethane - so the spots may be from places the cat scratched through the clear coat, resulting in corrosion of the brass - with or without cat urine being involved - just contact with moist air will do this, though would usually take awhile to go from greenish to black.

Note - if a pretty cheap lamp and just brass plate over plastic, you cannot use any harsh cleaners like lacquer thinner or acetone - will dissolve the plastic base material under the plating. Best bet then is good Dawn cleaning, rubber slightly abrasive eraser like Pink Pearl to buff out the corroded/stained areas, then recoat with a spray "brass" finish - the simulated antique finishes work the best because they have inherent variation in their appearance so cover a multitude of sins. Come in cans as small as 1/2 pint, and also in spray cans. Of course, mask off all cords and electrical components before painting.

So - in your cleaning, you may find you need to strip off the clear coat first - being SURE lamp is unplugged and stays that way till ALL fumes are dissipated, and keep the cleaners away from the wiring because it may dissolve it. May come off with alcohol if waxed, with denatured alcohol (read safety precautions and ESPECIALLY protect eyes) if shellaced; may need laquer thinner (pay attention to fire hazard and fumes, and protect eyes and hands) if lacquered or some varnishes and polyurethanes - or may need something like acetone if certain types of modified shellac or polyurethane mixtures.

Once the clear coat is off (Tests with Brasso will tell if coated or not, but if it does not show corroded fingaerprint areas almost certainly is clear coated), then the liquid (they call it paste but is a gooey liquid) Brasso on a cloth with a bit of elbow grease will take the corrosion off. If it is just brass coated (like much of the imported stuff) you may find the black stains are places the brass coating was scratched off by the cat, exposing a readily corroded base metal. There are also Brasso treated cloths that you can use for final wiping down to gaet a uniform appearance - also useful for handling it so you don't get hand oil on it, which restarts the corrosion process.

Once the brass is cleaned, to prevent tarnishing there are multiple ways to recoat it - check the web for suggestions, or use a clear lacquer that is recommneded for use on metal. Note especially the need to use a good oil-free cleaner to remove the cleaning material and get a ready-to-finish surface - commonly acetone.

Professionally, if this is a normal store lamp almost certainly cheaper to replace than repair. If antique, then an antique furniture repair place is what you need to find to restore it - though check with an antique expert, because refinishing it is likely to be far more damaging to its value than the stained spots.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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