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How to Polish Brass

Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, is prone to tarnishing—but whether it's a brass lamp or a brass monkey, with the right technique it's a cinch to polish.


  • Step 1: Make sure brass isn't lacquered Make sure your brass isn't lacquered by checking for any discoloration where the lacquer has chipped—or by consulting a professional. You should not polish lacquered brass.
  • Step 2: Wash brass Wash the brass, using mild soapy water and one of the cloths.
  • Step 3: Put on cotton gloves Put on your cotton gloves to protect your fingers from the polish and the brass from the natural oils in your skin.
  • Step 4: Dry brass completely Dry the brass completely with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Step 5: Apply polish Apply polish to another cloth and polish the entire item.
  • TIP: Use a toothbrush or small cotton swab to get to hard-to-reach areas.
  • Step 6: Buff brass dry Buff the brass dry with a clean dry cloth and admire your shiny, shiny brass.
  • FACT: The slang term "brass monkey" seems to have originated in 1857 with the phrase "It would freeze the tail off a brass monkey."

You Will Need

  • Some tarnished brass
  • Several clean cotton cloths
  • A bowl of water mixed with a dash of mild soap
  • A pair of cotton gloves
  • And brass polish
  • A toothbrush or cotton swab

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