How to Clean Antique Glass Furniture Knobs

Gooky, gunky, slimey at the bottom of the bowl! Oh yeah, let’s get our hands dirty!! It’s kinda like making mudpies as a kid. Now let’s be clear not all glass knobs that you find will be as dirty as these. But when you go diggin’ in the back of a dusty old barn and find a bowl full of old knobs, THIS is what you get…

Great Tips for Cleaning Salvaged Antique Hardware #RustedRoots

I didn’t even look through the bowl when I was there. I knew I could use whatever I may find buried in this treasure. So I was really excited to get ’em cleaned up and see what we had! Now, let me start by saying I’m no pro. And I’m sure there are lots of ways to clean these old knobs, but this is how I did it!

I started by filling the bowl with warm water and rinsing the knobs as best I could. (Note to self: don’t try to slosh them around! Casualty number one… I snapped a glass handle in half that way!!) Just fill the bowl and slowly and carefully drain the water. I did that a couple times and watched the mud literally wash right off of some of these knobs. Then I put about a cup of bleach in the bowl with warm water and let them soak overnight. The next morning, it was time to see what I had.

I just used an old toothbrush to scrub the knobs. Some came cleaner than others. Some look like they didn’t even soak. But I think the bleach helped break up some of the stubborn gook that was in the nooks and crannies of the screws and nuts. I always like to use the original screws if I can! After scrubbing them, I spread them out on some paper towels to air dry. Here’s some of what we found!!

Great Tips for Cleaning Salvaged Antique Hardware #RustedRoots

had five of these beautiful handles… now I have three!! I broke one trying to slosh the knobs in the rinsing phase. And then I dropped one on the floor when I was carrying them to see if they would fit an old knobless dresser that we have. Womp. Womp. So, now I’m down to three! But aren’t they gorgeous?? And these cleaned up really well!!

Great Tips for Cleaning Salvaged Antique Hardware #RustedRoots

I also really love the black knobs that we found! I’m not sure if they are milk glass or porcelain or what?? Do y’all know?? I love them. I think I may use them to make a jewelry holder or something just to showcase their beauty! Plus, there’s only four of them!!

Great Tips for Cleaning Salvaged Antique Hardware #RustedRoots

Then there were three of these. What in the world? They are some kind of cap of sorts. They have a threaded interior. I’m just trying to figure out what they go on. Any ideas?? Oh, and note the milk glass knobs in the background of this pic!! We found several of those in the bowl. Some came completely clean and others need another round in the bleach bath!

Great Tips for Cleaning Salvaged Antique Hardware #RustedRoots

I think one of my favorite knobs is this one… to me it has a purple tint. I wonder if it is some sort of depression glass?? Or perhaps it is just sooooo old that it has started to turn color. I have heard of that happening too!! Who knows!! I’ll be honest, there’s no telling what we have in this bowl or how old some of these knobs are!! Any hardware aficionados out there?? Bueller? Bueller?

Great Tips for Cleaning Salvaged Antique Hardware #RustedRoots

Not all hardware you stumble across will be glass, so if you run across some copper handles, we’ve got tips for cleaning copper hardware too!!

How to Clean Copper Hardware the Easy Way!! #RustedRoots

And once your knobs are cleaned up, check out our Pinterest board dedicated to all things upcycled hardware!! Here’s a little something we whipped up with some salvaged door knobs that we rescued!! The full tutorial is HERE!!

Upcycled Succulent Planters from Old Door Knobs #RustedRoots

Until next time, let us remember..

Beauty Stems from Rusted Roots

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  1. I loveeeee old hardware! For cleaning up the rust you may try to use cascade/water soak or bar keepers friend. I’ve seen BKF pull rust off of tons of stuff. I’ve also used a vinegar/baking soda mix when cleaning up old bottles, so maybe it would work here too? As for the purple – you’re dead on with the turning color. Some older clear glass used to make jars, bottle, door pulls, etc has a chemical in it that over time sitting in the sun will start to turn the clear glass purple! Hope this info helps! 🙂

    • Oh, Melissa, I love old hardware too!!! It’s one of many pieces that I feel have such a history, a story, I love it!! Good tips on the cascade/water soak and bar keepers friend! I’ll have to see if I can find some of that and give it a go! I love trying new products for cleaning things up. Work smarter not harder, right?! Ha ha!! Thanks for sharing your tips, oh wise one!! Keep in touch!! 🙂

  2. What a beautiful collection! How fun to wash them off and uncover the beauty and uniqueness of each one 🙂 I think those black knobs would look stunning as a jewelry holder!

    • Oh, me too, Emily!! The black is just do rich and deep in color!! I love it!! I’m sure they will stay stashed away and one day the perfect ‘lil project will come along and they will be just perfect! It’s so good hearing from you, friend!! I hope you are doing well!! 🙂

  3. If you want to get the rust off the glass and porcelain, try SnoBol from the toilet cleaning section of the grocery store. I haven’t found anything that works better. Follow the directions and wear gloves. I had an old four bolt wall mount toilet that went from rust stains everywhere to 100% clean in one afternoon. I was able to install it in my house instead of buying a new toilet.


    • Ooooooh, SnoBol!!! I’m intrigued, Brigitte! I’m gonna have to hunt me some down and give it a go! I love trying new products to clean things up! I can’t believe the story of your toilet! Sounds like it really does work magic!! I’ll keep you posted how it goes!! Thank you so much for sharing!! 🙂

  4. It is good stuff. Good luck!

  5. Jo Ann Miller says:

    Hi Candace! Love all the knobs. Just wondered if the black might be onyx? I found some onyx earrings once, loved them, didn’t buy, regretted ever since! Hugs.

    • Oh, maybe, Jo Ann!! I’ll have to be sure to figure it out before I do something silly with them!! Ha ha!! Don’t you hate it when the junk you didn’t buy haunts you!! It’s the worst!!! Hugs to you too, friend!!

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