When you live in an older home, keeping the original hardware adds to the charm and helps maintain a bit of history. That's a bit challenging when they're crusted over with layers of paint. Fortunately, those knobs, hinges, and escuctheon plates can be made to shine again without using noxious chemicals and expensive tools. Here's how.
Water, liquid detergent and heat will break the paint bond safely and gently. What's left can be removed with a nylon brush....no wire brushes or power tools since they are too harsh. Other recipes for success include powdered dish detergent, baking soda and TSP. The key is to get the water hot and let the hardware soak.
1) Cut the paint. Scoring the paint around your hardware to loosen it from the door or cabinet. You might have to carve the paint from the screw slots. Once the screws are loose, remove them, pry off the plates and remove the hardware.
2) Heat and soak. Fill a crockpot or old pot halfway with water and add a few drops of dish soap. Place hardware inside and let simmer for 30 minutes to overnight. You should be able to slide the paint off easily. Take precautions for lead paint if your door in over 30 years old. Protect the floor, wear gloves, wet the area, remove the hardware, then spray the ares with a liquid household cleaner, wrap it all into the floor covering and dispose.
3) Scrub it up. Remove the hardware with tongs - be careful it will be hot - and immediately brush off remaining paint with an old toothbrush or nylon bristle brush. For tough paint areas, repeat heat and soak.
4) Wax. Protect your metals with a coat of beeswax rubbed in with a soft cloth. You can use a spray lacquer but that will need to be chemically stripped if it ever chips.
5) Reinstall. Remount everything and tighten the screws. Apply a new coat of wax every 6 months to a year to keep the shine.