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Photo: Nor Gal (Shutterstock) Thanks to its durability and rich color, brass—an alloy of copper and zinc—has been used for centuries to make everything from kitchenware and hardware, to household objects and decor. But brass also has a downside: It tarnishes easily. And, like everything else, brass can accumulate dirt and dust over time, leaving it in need of a good cleaning. But items that appear to be brass may actually be brass-plated, and therefore, require different types of maintenance. And in some cases, solid brass objects are lacquered, which also changes the way you can for the item. Here’s how to tell what type of brass you’re dealing with, and how to clean and polish it using stuff you probably already have in your home. How to tell if an item is solid brass or brass-plated Brass-plated items are typically made of steel or zinc, and then coated in a thin layer of solid brass, and lacquered. According to the experts at Brassworks Co. in Baltimore , brass plating “is exceedingly thin” and will deteriorate over time, but can be replated. The easiest way to determine if an object is solid brass or brass-plated is to see if it’s magnetic—something you can do with a refrigerator magnet. While solid brass is not magnetic, brass-plated items (or rather, the metal used to make them) are. How to tell if a solid brass item is lacquered As we mentioned, almost all brass-plated objects are lacquered, but some solid brass items […]