Review: Reckitt Benckiser Brasso Multipurpose Metal Polish
Pros: An incredibly inexpensive metal polish widely touted as the cheapest way to bring back an iPod’s original shine. Comes in eight-ounce can that will last you for as many iPods as you’re ever likely to own.
Cons: Required polishing cloths and protective gloves aren’t included for the low price; company doesn’t specifically recommend iPod-safe cloths. Removes deep scratches, but does not fully restore iPod’s face or back to original factory gloss, leaving thin scratches on both surfaces, most noticeably on iPod’s face. However, such scratches may be avoidable by using superior cloths to the manufacturer’s generically recommended ones.
Reckitt Benckiser has never marketed the “Multipurpose Metal Polish” Brasso specifically to iPod users, and in fact, lists its suggested benefits as applicable to brass, copper, chrome, stainless steel, and pewter, with only the briefest reference to its utility for “plastic watch crystals.” And unlike the iPod-specific polishing creams we’ve tested, the company provides no cloths, gloves, or other tools with its wonderfully inexpensive, eight-ounce can. There’s enough polish in there to last one person’s lifetime worth of iPods, but you’ll need to follow the directions on the back to figure out how to apply it. After shaking the can well, the company recommends that you wear household gloves and apply the solution with a “clean, soft cloth, rubbing lightly to loosen badly discolored areas.” Then you let your iPod dry, and “polish to a high lustre with a soft, dry cloth.”
To make a long story short, we tested Brasso with two scratched-up iPods - both black - and two different cloths, giving each iPod the requisite 20 minutes of polishing that we’ve heard is appropriate to restore them to their original gloss levels. Brasso’s reputation for metal restoration didn’t help it to achieve any better results than the other creams we’ve tested; in fact, we were genuinely unimpressed with its restorative powers on the iPod’s rear metal surface, which was even more obviously littered with hairline surface scratches than with the other polishes we’ve tested. The first two shots above are before and after images, illustrating what we’d call some but not complete improvement in the full-sized iPod’s rear chassis. Only under the right light - angled, not straight on - does the iPod look as it originally did, as illustrated in picture 4. Our results were achieved with a microfiber cloth, generally considered to be about as good for scratch-free polishing as soft cloths can get.
Our results with the front clear plastic of an iPod nano weren’t much better. We shook the can again, then used a separate soft cotton cloth for multiple polishing applications on the nano’s face. The good news was that, like basically all of the other creams we’ve tested recently, Brasso removed some of the nastiest scratches on the nano’s face, suffered several days ago in a drop onto a concrete surface without a case. You can see the improvement more dramatically in the cropped photos below.
But you can also see that the nano’s front surface is anything but scratch-free; it’s actually laden with the same surface scratches found on the metal rear, which are actually far more obvious than the rear ones, as there’s no secondary glaze or other fill-style coating provided in the Brasso can. Though not themselves perfect, companies such as Applesauce Products and Radtech do a better job of following up the initial polishing job with a restorative coating. Ultimately, we felt obliged to turn to a separate product - the glaze from Applesauce Products’ Applesauce, to bring back the nano’s front shine.
Though we’re not inclined to recommend Brasso to our readers, we’re also not going to say that it’s worthless, either. Having tried so many other polishes, our gut feeling is that the problems we had were partially attributable to our need to provide our own polishing cloths, which were difficult to pick properly given the company’s brief instructions, and partially because the product may never have been intended to create mirror-finish-quality restorations of iPods. Similarly, the suggestion that it’s substantially cheaper than competitors turns out to be more complex than you might think: while it’s certainly true that you can save $15 over the cost of a competing product by buying Brasso alone at a local store, the costs of appropriate cloths and protective gloves will bring the tally higher, and when you’re finished, you may not be left with a result as satisfying as that provided by Radtech’s Ice Creme Version 2. In our view, Brasso’s biggest strengths are its widespread availability, low price, and huge quantity of polish, but based on our results, we wouldn’t pick it over other solutions we’ve tested. Reader comments on recommended techniques, including explanations of how their results differed from ours, would be much appreciated.