Clean or Replace Tarnished Door Handles | Super Blog

Clean or Replace Tarnished Door Handles

Time: 45 minutes

Like anything you use every day, your interior door handles can easily get tarnished or worn out. But don’t let the fear of a costly professional replacement scare you–clean (or replace) them yourself with some elbow grease and a few common tools.

What's in it for you?

  • Save money
  • Spruce up your home
  • Increase safety and security


  1. Determine the material. The material of your door handle determines what kind of cleaner should be used on it. A gentle solution of two-part dish soap or vinegar, to one-part warm water, can be used on all surfaces and types. You can even polish solid metals like brass or nickel with a cut lemon.

  2. Clean and polish. Take a soft cloth and buff your chosen cleaning solution onto your door handle, re-applying the solution as necessary. Start light, and work until you’ve achieved the look you want.

Pro Tip: Always test a small inconspicuous area with your chosen cleaner, before proceeding to clean the entire handle.

  1. Off with the old. If it’s truly time for a full replacement, begin by unscrewing the door handle from the door. Screws will be located on the front of the door handle or hidden on the side of the door with the latch. Don’t forget to also remove the latch.

  2. Think before you buy. Not all door handles are created equally. If you plan to only replace the door handle itself, your old door handle will indicate what kind you need to purchase–so bring it with you when you go shopping. If you plan on a full replacement make sure you also purchase a latch and a strike plate (the part on the door frame) that fit with the cut-outs in your door.

Pro Tip: Depending on the “mortise” of your door (the cut-out hole the latch sits in) you will need either a square or circular latch plate. Check your door before your purchase.

  1. Piece it together. If you bought a new latch, slide it into the door first. Place the first half of your door handle that has the square steel peg into the door, feeding the square peg into the latch mechanism. On the other side, align the other half of the door handle with the first half, and slide them together. Screw everything into place.

  2. Touch up. Often replacing a door handle means you’re left with exposed screw holes or dents. Lightly sand down any imperfections with sanding paper, and fill them with wood putty using a paint scraper. Touch up with stain, paint or clear finish, as needed.

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