How to Clean Copper: A Quick and Effective Guide

How to Clean Copper: A Quick and Effective Guide

How to clean copper effectively?

Kitchen hardware (like sinks), bathroom accessories, sconces, jewelry made with genuine copper beads, and serve ware are all part of the resurgence of the maximalist, almost shabby-chic aesthetic. Copper objects are in style right now, but preserving them from getting stained or tarnished can be difficult.

Copper, like brass, ages and deteriorates as a result of oxidation, just like brass. Copper’s alloys gradually accumulate a green covering as oxygen reacts with them, commonly called “patina.” In 1885, when it was first presented to the United States as a gift, the Statue of Liberty was a gleaming, dazzling, amber monument made of copper. Unfortunately, the statue’s patina began developing rapidly after five years. By the end of a decade, the once glossy, reddish statue had faded to the matte, soft jade color we see today. Fortunately, unlike Lady Liberty, your household goods won’t be too difficult to repair.

Have you noticed that your copper seems to be losing some of its vigors? Join us in bringing copper back to life!

Mastering How to Clean Copper

The correct treatment for your copper pieces’ condition will depend in part on your copper type. First, knowing whether your copper has been sealed or left raw is crucial. The copper that has been sealed or lacquered will appear considerably shinier than raw copper and is much simpler to maintain (wipe it down with a warm, damp dishcloth and some dish soap). However, tarnished copper indicates that the seal has been removed or the object has been purposefully left in its natural state. If you want it to look new again, you can have it professionally re-sealed, but the seal will be entirely removed if you use abrasive chemical cleaners on it by accident.

Where do you look to find out what you have? Because of the constant presence of water, a copper sink is typically unsealed. On the other hand, a copper kettle will be sealed and polished. The easiest way to tell if a seal is intact is to look for a reflective sheen.

Pick a Strategy

Learning how to clean copper is easier if you used the right paste to polish smaller objects. Liquid products like Bar Keeper’s Friend are preferable because of their convenience and effectiveness on numerous surfaces, including stainless steel, brass, copper, and porcelain. If you’d rather avoid using chemicals, acid is your best friend. Any will do.

Copper may be polished with everyday household things like lemon juice, vinegar, and even (gasp!) ketchup. Dumping bulky items that would take too long to scrub by hand into a large pot of boiling water with a homemade cleaning solution might lighten the load significantly.

Methods for Polishing Copper Jewelry and Other Small Objects

Use Bar Keeper’s Friend or half a lemon’s juice mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of ketchup and 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar and salt

One sponge

Two lint-free, absorbent towels; one for wiping, the other for drying.

Availability of hot water

Test It

Part of mastering how to clean copper is knowing how to test first. Test any new product on a small, inconspicuous spot before applying any product to an entire piece.

Rinse and Scrub

Scrubbing the substance (chemical or natural) into the copper with a sponge in circular motions is the best approach to remove the patina. The copper will be restored if you keep at it. After scrubbing for about a minute, rinse the product by either dipping it into warm water or wiping it off with a towel that has been soaked in water. Cleaning product removal precedes drying since it is the most crucial step. That’s how you truly master how to clean copper effectively.


If you still observe moisture after using the first dry, lint-free cloth, use the second one to dry the copper product entirely. Any trace of water left unchecked can eventually cause corrosion (and unattractive water spots) in copper. If you can wait until the next day to apply oil, experts recommend that.

Put in Some Mineral Oil

Mineral oil can be used as a final polish on copper to give it that professional sheen and a personal touch. Again, a piece must be “bone dry” now. Mineral oil shouldn’t be applied until after the metals have dried for at least ten minutes. Letting the item dry completely is essential so the oil doesn’t react with any lingering water from the cleaning process. Imagine the metal absorbing the oil; it will benefit from some drying time before consuming it. The mineral oil is a barrier between the copper and the air, preventing the latter from oxidizing the metal.

Methods for Polishing Large, Freestanding Copper Objects

You Will Require the following:

1 huge stainless-steel pot

Method of cleaning: Vinegar to water, 3:1

1-3 T salt

Prepare Your Remedy and Fill the Kettle

Sarah suggests using a stainless-steel saucepan because the material shields copper from water and detergent. First, fill the container up with the required amount of cleaning solution. Take note: there needs to be enough to cover the object completely. Next, put your copper product into the boiling liquid.

Take Extra Caution

When the tarnish begins to come off, remove the item from the heat and allow it to cool. Copper can slightly warp if boiled for too long, so setting the item aside to cool once the patina has been removed is essential for maintaining its original form.

Mineral Oil and Drying Time

To completely dry and polish your object, repeat the steps outlined above that you took with more minor copper things.

Think About Using Cling Wrap For Storage

Sarah advised the readers of Southern Living to wrap any copper serving ware or seasonal copper mint julep cups that weren’t on the show. Cling wrap isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing solution, but it will prevent oxygen from contacting your shiny metal and dulling the finish you’ve worked so hard to create.

Care for your items frequently to get more use out of them, and soon you’ll show off your shiny new copper pieces with pride.

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