Here’s How to Ruin The Trendy Brass Fixtures You Just Spent a Fortune On

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Filed under things I didn’t know I had to worry about: the fact that the pretty finish on my new kitchen fixtures might not last.

When you’re dreaming about a new kitchen, it’s often the jewelry—those gleaming brass fixtures—that imprint on your mind. They certainly did mine. Pinning my little heart out, I began to see patterns in what I liked, and that included modern brass fixtures. I’d never had such a thing (but I’d never had a full-scale kitchen reno, either; all my kitchens had ever seen were standard-issue stainless faucets). They were always fine and I never thought twice about them.

The choice for fixture finish was sealed when I stumbled across a Ferrari red Bertazzoni range for half price in a local fixture and lighting showroom. The faucet would need to complement the amazing brass accents. And the sales woman who wrote up our stove purchase took me directly to the right finish: Champagne Bronze, from Delta. A sumptuous, muted gold/brass tone, it’s not too shiny, but not matte, either. And it would be perfect with the vintage brass cabinet hardware I’d picked up at an architectural salvage store.

I’d spent more than enough at the fancy showroom, so I bought the faucet at a deep discount from an Amazon refurbished seller, and because I liked it that much, I got the same finish in our bathroom sink and shower fixtures.

Our wonderful plumber sent some of his crew to install the fixtures for us (when it comes to things that can destroy your house, like water, we don’t attempt DIY!) and, although I wish I hadn’t bothered with the extra “touch” feature (see: The Kitchen Renovation Splurge I Totally Shouldn’t Have Made), I love the look of the faucet. I’ll walk by and just admire it as the sun pours in on it.

Then I came crashing to earth when the plumber came to pick up his check. Always generous with his advice, and not one to mince words, “you have to be careful with that,” he said when he saw my wonderful faucet.

Yikes! What had I done? I’d already made several faux pas in the renovation—who knew you could get a wrong kind of toilet?—so I figured I’d messed up again.

Says my plumber: Don’t clean fixtures and faucets (unless they’re stainless steel) with cleaning products. Just use water or soapy water instead!

Those finishes are hard to maintain, he explained. Not just mine in that pretty brass, but based on what he’s seen in his other clients’ houses, copper, nickel–anything, basically, other than good ol’ stainless—won’t stand up to cleaning products, he said. Oh no! I’d gotten a deal on this faucet but I might not get that lucky in the future, so I certainly don’t want to have to replace it anytime soon. So how do you take care of special finishes?

Straight from the plumber’s mouth: plain water. If you have to use something else, just use mild soapy dish water, he said.

It goes against everything in me to not whip out a fancy cleaner specially made for the faucet, and I even checked and Delta’s website says the finish is “guaranteed not to corrode, tarnish, or discolor. Tested against more than 100 household cleaners, these scratch-resistant finishes can even withstand repeated scouring with steel wool.”

But I’m taking his advice to heart—he sees real-world results of how people take care of their things every day—and he’s never steered me wrong on anything before. And I really want this faucet to last, so in the interest of better safe than sorry, I’m sticking to just regular water, with a pass of a soapy dishcloth if the faucet’s gotten greasy, followed by drying it with a clean, soft dish towel. It seems a little precious, I get that, but this faucet is precious to me. So, water it is.

Have you had bad experiences with your faucet finish? Or found that you can abuse them? Let us hear!

This post originally ran on Kitchn, which you can read here: The Kitchen Cleaning Mistake You’re Probably Making, According to a Plumber