Over time, the surface of brass will oxidise and dull. While some people like this tarnished look, others prefer a shinier brass. To get rid of tarnish, polish your brass naturally with salt and vinegar. Prior to cleaning your item, test that it is composed of actual brass and not brass-plated steel. Brass-plated steel requires a different type of cleaning. Pure brass is not magnetic, so if a magnet sticks to the brass, your item is probably brass plated.
Soak the brass item in hot water. If the item is too large to fit in the bucket or sink, spray it with the water.
Form a paste by mixing equal amounts of vinegar, white flour and salt in a small bowl.
Apply the paste directly to the brass with your fingers. Let the mixture sit for a 30 minutes to one hour.
Thoroughly rinse the salt and vinegar paste from the brass with water.
Dry the item with a clean cloth. Use the cloth to gently buff the brass to a shine.
For really dirty, non-laquered brass items, buff the brass while the paste is still on the item. The extra abrasion will help clean the item of the extra dirt and leave an extra shine. If you don't have any flour, use a mixture of the vinegar and salt to clean the brass.