How to Clean Copper with Stuff from the Kitchen

If you’re old enough to remember using copper pots and pans, it’s likely that you can remember what a mess they used to be to clean. Harsh chemicals were once the only material used to clean copper to a sparkling shine, and after use, chemical residue was left on hands, clothing, countertops, and just about everywhere else. Fortunately, we’ve gotten a lot smarter about the cleaning techniques we use today. There are many ways to clean copper without chemicals. In fact, many materials you have in your kitchen can be used to de-tarnish and clean copper naturally.

Is it copper?

If you are unsure if an object is actually copper, test it with this quick method. Take a magnet and try to place it on the copper. If the magnet sticks, you have an object that is copper plated. If, however, the magnet won’t stick, you have an authentic copper piece. Once you verify that it is indeed copper, proceed to use the methods we’ve provided to clean copper jewelry, copper décor, copper pots and pans, and other copper objects.

Remove mineral build-up

Before you continue with any of the following methods, you’ll want to clean the copper with a mild dish detergent. Draw a sink of water and add a few drops of regular dish soap. Don’t use soap that contains bleach or perfumes. Allow the copper item to soak for 5 – 10 minutes and wipe it down with a soft cloth. Dry with a separate towel. This will help to remove mineral build-up that has set in over time.

Clean copper naturally with salt and vinegar

Fill a squirt bottle with a mixture of white vinegar and 3 tablespoons salt. Shake the mixture until the salt is dissolved completely. To clean copper to an unbelievable shine, saturate with the salt and vinegar mixture and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Wipe clean with a soft cloth.

Clean copper naturally with flour

Another way to clean heavily tarnished copper without chemicals is to add flour to the salt and vinegar mixture. Spray the mixture on, and add flour directly to the object. This will form a paste that will clean and polish. Allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes and rub it in with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Polish with a dry cloth.

Clean copper naturally with lemon juice

Combine fresh lemon juice with cream of tartar. This will form a paste which can be applied directly with a soft cloth. Work the paste in using circular motions. Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes and polish with a soft cloth.

Clean copper naturally with ketchup

It may seem odd, but ketchup is a surprisingly effective substance for copper cleaning. Use what you have in the kitchen, or buy the cheapest brand you can find, and start cleaning. Simply pour a tablespoon or two into a soft cloth and rub on. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes and polish with a dry cloth. Why does ketchup work? It contains vinegar, salt, and has tomato acidity that makes it effective.

Important note – Whatever you do, take the time to thoroughly dry the copper after cleaning. Otherwise you’ll be left with a clean, but watermarked, object.

More from Jennifer Wagner:

Emergency first aid kit for stains

Surprising uses for cider vinegar and white vinegar

How to unclog a shower head


Personal experience

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