Effective Ways to Clean Copper

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Home Improvement

Many people proudly display their copper cookware by hanging it on hooks in the kitchen. However, the pots can lose their shine over time due to oxidation caused by exposure to heat, air, and humidity. This process occurs when copper combines with oxygen and moisture in the air and loses some of its protons, resulting in a deeper orange color or purple and blue streaks. If left unchecked for an extended period, oxidation can cause blue-green “salts” to grow on copper cookware [sources: American Chemical Society, Britannica]. Fortunately, cleaning copper like a pro is simple and does not require complex techniques or expensive chemicals. Here’s how to clean copper cookware and copper coins.


  • Take half a lemon and sprinkle salt on it. Rub the salted side of the lemon on the tarnished area. The salt acts as an abrasive, and the lemon juice acts as the cleanser. The combination cleans the tarnished area.
  • Squeeze a lemon and add some salt to the juice. Pour the mixture onto a cloth and rub it on the pot. The combination of salt and lemon juice cleans the area.
  • Fill a large pot (larger than the tarnished copper pot) with water. Add salt and vinegar to the mixture and bring it to a boil. Place the copper pot in the solution and leave it until you see the tarnish disappear. Rinse the copper pot with warm water.


  1. Create a paste of salt and vinegar.
  2. Using a toothbrush, rub the paste on the coins. Let the paste sit for a while, or overnight if the coins are very tarnished.
  3. Wash the paste off the coins, and they will look like new [source: Martha Stewart].


1. What are some common household items that can be used to clean copper?

There are several common household items that can be used to clean copper, including vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and salt. These items are natural and safe to use, and they work well to remove tarnish and restore the shine to copper surfaces.

2. What is the best way to clean copper pots and pans?

The best way to clean copper pots and pans is to use a mixture of vinegar and salt. Simply mix equal parts vinegar and salt together, and then use a soft cloth or sponge to apply the mixture to the copper surface. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and then rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

3. Can copper be cleaned with bleach?

No, copper should not be cleaned with bleach. Bleach can be too harsh for copper, and it can cause damage to the surface. It is best to use natural ingredients, such as vinegar and lemon juice, to clean copper instead.

4. How often should copper be cleaned?

Copper should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent tarnish from building up. The frequency of cleaning will depend on how often the copper is used and the environment it is in. However, a good rule of thumb is to clean copper every few months or as needed.

5. Can copper be polished?

Yes, copper can be polished to restore its shine. There are several commercial copper polishes available, or you can make your own polish using a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. Apply the polish to the copper surface with a soft cloth, and then buff it with a clean cloth to bring out the shine.

6. How do you remove stubborn stains from copper?

If vinegar and salt are not strong enough to remove stubborn stains from copper, you can try using a commercial copper cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water. Apply the cleaner or paste to the stain, and then let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water and drying with a soft cloth.

7. Can copper be damaged by cleaning?

Yes, copper can be damaged by using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials to clean it. It is important to use gentle, natural cleaners and soft cloths or sponges to avoid scratching or damaging the copper surface. Additionally, avoid using hot water on copper, as it can cause the metal to warp or become discolored.

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