How to Clean and Polish Copper

There’s no other metal quite like copper. The color ranges from lustrous pink to deep orange, and because of excellent conductive properties, it’s often used in wiring and cookware. Copper is also molded and formed into shapes to create beautiful jewelry and home décor.

Modern day copper items are covered with a special lacquer that keeps it tarnish-free and shiny. Never scrub or polish lacquered copper, and never use it for food preparation or consumption. Occasionally wash it in warm soapy water, thoroughly rinse, and buff it with a soft cloth.

Older copper and items without a protective lacquer finish must be cleaned and polished to remain looking clean and lustrous. It eventually develops stains and changes color when exposed to heat, air, oils, and a host of other elements. Some prefer the look of natural unpolished copper, but some want their copper items clean, bright, and evenly colored.

Although older or lacquer-free copper must be cleaned and polished on a regular basis to stay looking like new, copper isn’t difficult to clean. Don’t avoid buying copper because of the care it requires. The quality and beauty is worth the extra cleaning and care.

The following information will help you clean and care for your copper items. It’s really not as difficult as you might think. With a little elbow grease and commercial or homemade cleaner, it will look as clean and shiny as a brand new penny.


Begin by hand washing copper items in warm soapy water, and rinse and dry them thoroughly. Use one of the following homemade cleaners, or choose commercial copper cleaner and polish of your choice. Finish by buffing away excess polish with a soft clean cloth, and rub the copper to achieve a brilliant shine.

Vinegar Paste

Items with minor tarnish can be cleaned with a paste made from vinegar, salt, and all-purpose flour. Simply mix equal parts of ingredients to achieve a paste-like consistency. Apply the paste with a soft clean cloth, rinse it thoroughly, and buff the copper to a radiant shine.

Lemon Juice Cleaner

For items with moderate to severe tarnish, combine equal parts of salt and real lemon juice. Rub briskly, rinse well, and dry and buff the metal until it shines.

Tomato-based Cleaner

Tomato paste or catsup contains acid that will effectively clean away tarnish and stains. Apply a tomato-based product to a soft cloth, and briskly rub. Rinse and dry it thoroughly, and buff it with a clean dry cloth.

Commercial Cleaner

Commercial cleaners not only contain cleaning agents and polish, but they also contain tarnish preventatives. This helps keep lacquer-free copper items looking clean and shiny much longer than home remedies.

Search for commercial cleaner and polish online. Shopping online will enable you to find the best possible price. Not only will you save money, but also you’ll save time, and your copper items will stay clean, shiny, and exceptionally beautiful.

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