Brass is a gold-coloured alloy made from copper and zinc. It is commonly used to make gears, locks, musical instruments, home fixtures and decorative objects. Lacquered brass contains a barrier of lacquer finish that helps prevent oxidation. Small cracks and fissures in the lacquer can expose the brass to air and water vapour, causing oxidation and tarnish. To clean tarnish from a lacquered brass lamp, it will be necessary to remove the lacquer first. The lamp can then be cleaned and polished, restoring its colour and appearance.
Turn off and unplug the brass lamp. Remove the lampshade and set it aside. If possible, remove the light socket and electrical wiring. It can usually be unscrewed from the top of the lamp.
Apply paint stripper or acetone to a cloth and wipe it over the lamp to remove the lacquer. Remove any remaining lacquer with a fine steel wool pad.
Dampen a cloth with warm water and wipe the lamp to rinse away any paint stripper or acetone. Apply two or three drops of dish detergent to the cloth and wipe the lamp to make sure it is clean.
Rinse the cloth with warm water and wring it out. Wipe the lamp to remove any soap residue.
Dry the lamp with a soft cloth.
Apply brass polish to a soft cloth and rub the lamp to remove any tarnish and bring out the shine and colour of the brass.
Apply 1 tsp of olive oil to a cloth and wipe the brass to apply a light, even layer of protection. Remove any excess oil with a dry part of the cloth.