How to Clean Oil Rubbed Bronze

Meg Butler

Oil rubbed bronzed fixtures appeal for their dark luster and old-world look. The coating on oil rubbed bronze is relatively delicate and needs care in the cleaning. Never use any harsh or abrasive cleaning solutions. They will eat through the finish or scratch the surface.

Keep oil rubbed bronze beautiful with regular cleaning.

Maintenance cleaning should only consist of the occasional rub down and removal of moisture.

  1. Wipe the surface with a dry, soft cloth. This maintenance cleaning is enough for fixtures like doorknobs and light switch plates that frequently sustain hand oils but not water. Do not rub hard or attempt to buff dirt out. This will slowly buff away the oiled finish. For fixtures that have exposure to water on a regular basis, wipe the surface down daily with a damp cloth and then wipe dry immediately. You should never allow water to stand on oil rubbed bronze or water spots will develop.

  2. Moisten a soft, clean cloth with mineral oil. Wipe the surface to remove clinging debris or as a once-monthly maintenance oiling. Follow with a dry cloth wipe to remove any excess oil and shine. Again, do not buff the surface or you will remove the finish.

  3. Coat the oil rubbed bronze with furniture wax once every two or three months. Apply a generous amount and according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then leave it to sit for five minutes and wipe it away (do not buff).


As rubbed bronze ages, certain areas of the finish will wear away to reveal copper tones, giving the piece an antique patina.