For lacquer finish, use lacquer-life or similar lacquer cleaner and preservative. Liquid wax is also used to protect lacquer finish but be sure to rub with soft cloth until all stickiness is removed. Mild soap and water or simply a damp chamois can also be used. Avoid using special cleaners with alcohol in them, for this will take the lacquer off. Avoid use of abrasives.
For plain polished brass (not lacquered), chromium, nickel silver, or nickel plated finish, a simple but satisfactory cleaner can be made by mixing a tablespoonful of fine grade whiting in a half glass of denatured alcohol. Stir the whiting well, apply lightly, and rub off carefully when dry. Be sure to use a soft piece of flannel for this purpose, as other cloth is liable to scratch.
For silver, use a high grade silver polish, in paste or liquid form, or the whiting mixture described above.
For gold, use rouge and a piece of soft flannel. Gold is easily scratched, so be especially careful in cleaning an instrument in gold finish.
Be careful not to get any of the cleaning materials inside the valves or slides. Use cleaning materials sparingly and wipe them off carefully. You can remove the finish on the instrument if you polish it too often.
Lacquer is a good preservative for all metal finishes. Clear lacquer applied over silver, gold, nickel, nickel silver, or chromium protects the plating or metal from the attacks of acids in perspiration without changing the color or appearance of the finish. "Gold" lacquer is usually applied over brass so it looks like gold. Lacquer has been improved until it ordinarily has quite a long life. This does not apply to certain individuals who "go through" lacquer in a few days. There is so much acid in their system that it eats the lacquer away quickly and even eats into the metal.