How to Clean Copper

Copper is known for its beautiful color and conductive properties. This metal sees several uses from wiring to coins, to mugs, pots and pans. Copper is relatively cheap compared to other metals, making it a more affordable option.

Over time, exposure to moisture and/or oxygen may turn copper blue-green or black, and develop an outer layer called a patina. Removing the discoloration is an easy process.

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While there are name brand copper cleaners on the market, you can use common household items for the same effect. Learning how to clean copper this way can save you tons of money.

Vinegar and Salt

By now you know we love using vinegar to clean many household items. The acidity eats away at tarnish on the copper, leaving the surface sparkling when finished.

In a small bowl, mix together equal parts vinegar and salt. Stir it until it forms a paste. Next, take a clean cloth or paper towel and scrub your copper down with the solution.

Put some elbow grease into it for those tough stains. You can also use a toothbrush to scrub in any crevices your piece has.

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After making short work of those stains, rinse off the vinegar-salt solution. Make sure that you thoroughly dry the copper with a clean, dry cloth.

Lemon and Salt (or Baking Soda)

You can substitute vinegar for lemon juice (or salt for baking soda), which is another potent cleaning solution. Take the juice of one lemon and mix with equal parts salt and apply this solution the same as you did with the vinegar-salt mix.

Boiling

Another way to use the salt and vinegar mix is to add it to a large pot of water and boil your copper. Add one cup of vinegar and one tablespoon of salt to about 3-4 cups of water.

Submerge your copper and bring the mixture to a boil. Once things get rolling, let the copper boil for about 15 minutes. You may see the tarnish slipping off the copper.

When the copper is clean, take the pot off the heat and let it cool. Be careful handling the piece while it is hot, as you may burn yourself. Instead wait 30 minutes after turning off the heat to remove the copper. Give it one last buff and dry before putting it away.

Ketchup

If you can learn how to clean copper with ketchup, you are practically a cleaning ninja. Actually, this method is quite easy, so anyone can do it.

Dab a small amount of ketchup on a towel and rub a thin layer onto the copper. You can add salt to the ketchup for increased effectiveness. Let the condiment work its magic for about 30 minutes, then rinse it off. Dry and buff the copper and it should be good as new.

Tips

  • ALWAYS completely dry and buff your copper with a cloth! Leaving it to air dry will cause uneven spotting on your copper.
  • If your copper has a lacquered finish, applying the above methods could destroy it. Wash it with warm water and dish soap instead.
  • Do not rub too hard into the copper, as vinegar could penetrate the copper plating itself. Be very gentle, applying little pressure on particularly tough spots.