Take your heavy metals from tarnished to terrific.
Tarnished brass is sad. It doesn't matter if it's a prized family heirloom or a fun flea market find—if it's dark and discolored, you either need to toss that item in a drawer or get started on Project Brass Cleanup. But know this before you opt for the drawer method: Brass is really having a moment.
Before you break out your cleaning supplies, check to see if you're even in possession of real brass with a good old-fashioned magnet. If the magnet sticks, you have some fake brass in your hands, friend. But if there's no magnetization, you've got the real thing and you can get to work. Start by cleaning it with warm soapy water before trying your hand at the harder stuff listed below. Another tip: Always check whether varnish is on the brass before you go to town. Two ways to tell if you've got varnish is if there are black spots on your brass or if you've had a piece for years and years and never cleaned it. If you've got varnish, stick with soap and water. If you don't, just know that depending on the type of object you're cleaning and how far gone it is, you might need to try a few of these solutions before you find a winner. Once your brass is cleaned up, you can admire yourself in its reflection and toast yourself with a well-deserved cocktail.