1. Assess the piece’s condition
First, check that the brass hasn’t been lacquered. “Chances are it hasn’t, because the point of lacquer is to prevent tarnishing,” says Hartman. “But if there’s a thin shiny coating that is coming off in places, then the piece has been lacquered and the only real option is to take it to a metal refinisher.” Once that’s been done, the object is ready to be shined.
2. Apply a high-quality polish
To remove discoloration, use a polish designed specifically for brass. Apply it according to the instructions on the bottle using a soft cloth (Sorenson prefers a knit cotton material, like that of an undershirt). While Hartman rubs in polish with very fine steel wool, she warns that you should never use any steel wool that’s thicker than grade 00, to avoid scratching the surface.