Brass is one of my favorite decor investments to make, while many view brass as aged and dated – it's a versitile metal that can add a pop to any space, regardless of style.

While tarnished brass is timeless – personally my favorite to work with, polished brass je ne sais quoi that's captivated decorating fanatics since the middle of the XVI century.

Determine Whether the Brass Is Been Lacquered

If the brass has a thin coat coming off, but it's still shiny in most areas, it's most likly been laquored and needs to go to a metal refinisher. However, if the brass is already tarnished, you should be able to take care of it yourself.

Determine if it's Brass or Just Brass-Plated

Brass-plating is an affordable way to make something look like brass. When thrifting, it's easy to pick up brass-plated items and assume they're brass.

If something is brass-plated, all it needs is a nice clean with warm water and soap – anything else may be too abrasive for it and rub off the plating.

You can test if your item is brass by placing a magnet on it. If the magnet sticks, it's brass-plated, and if it doesn't it's brass.

Polish the Brass

To remove discoloration, use a polish designed specifically for brass. Apply it according to the instructions on the bottle using a soft cleaning cloth (Sorenson prefers a knit-cotton material, like that of an undershirt). Though 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. And before you get started on polishing, always wash the brass before polishing it. All you need is warm water and mild dish soap. Use a soft, damp cloth to apply the soapy water, and clean it until all debris, dust, and dirt are gone.

DIY Brass Polish

If you don't want to purchase a brass cleaner, you can make a simple DIY cleanter that'll get the job done.

Lemon and Baking Soda Polish

Combine half a lemon with a teaspoon of baking soda and stir until it becomes a paste. Apply the paste with a soft cloth. If the tarnish is heavy, let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry. Repeat as necessary.

Lemon and Salt Polish

Slice a lemon in half and cover the cut section with a teaspoon of table salt. Rub the lemon on the tarnished piece, squeezing it as you go to release the lemon juice. Rinse with warm water and dry.

Flour, Salt, and White Vinegar

Combine equal parts of all three ingredients to create a paste. Apply a thin layer of that paste to the tarnished brass and leave it on for an hour before rinsing with warm water and drying.