How to Clean Copper Like a Pro

If we look closely we may notice that there is more copper in our lives than we realize. Copper can sometimes be forgotten when compared to gold and silver. But sometimes there are compounds of copper in our jewelry and everyday household items. Knowing how to clean it is key to a long-lasting item. The wrong solutions could cause it to tarnish or deteriorate. But leaving copper alone for too long and you start to lose its beautiful luster

The downside of copper is that it will tarnish no matter how well you take care of it. The process is inevitable but you can slow it down. You can also restore it to almost new condition with the right process. 

How to Clean Copper Naturally

The cool thing about copper is that regardless of whether you want to know how to clean copper pipe or how to clean copper jewelry, you can use a number of household items that are natural alternatives instead of using cleaners with chemicals. 

Natural Cleaning Options and Items

  • Vinegar or Ketchup
  • Acidic Fruits and Salts
  • Mild Soap or Dishwasher Liquid
  • Soft Cloth or Sponge 
  • Dry Towel
  • Bowl for Water

    How to Clean Copper Like a Pro

    How to Clean Copper With Lemon

    Using lemon to clean copper is an awesome option. Pairing it with salt makes it even better. The combination of the acidic fruit with salt gets rid of the tarnish that builds up. Here is the process to follow. 

    1. Start by squeezing the lemon juice into a bowl. Then you can sprinkle a pinch of salt to make the cleaning mix. Focus on 75 percent lemon juice and 25 percent salt for the combo. 
    2. Continue to stir the mixture until all of the salt dissolves. Once it is ready, go ahead and lightly dip a soft cloth or sponge into the bowl. In most cases, a soft microfiber cloth is best because it absorbs less than a sponge will. 
    3. Start wiping down the copper with the damp cloth. With the strength of the mixture, you will notice the tarnish build-up will start removing immediately. 

    This is one of the best tried and true methods. Especially when you want to clean copper naturally and avoid jewelry cleaners. It’s important to ensure that the salt and lemon mixture is not abrasive to your copper. It shouldn’t feel round when cleaning. 

    How to Clean Copper Like a Pro

    How to Clean Copper With Ketchup

    Ketchup is another natural alternative for cleaning copper. It may not be surprising, but since ketchup is made from tomatoes, it is also an acidic solution for this. And it is kind of fun. 

    1. Whatever you are cleaning, try wiping it down with some warm water and a cloth to start. This just gets rid of any dust or debris. Then lather the entire item in ketchup, whether it be jewelry, a sink, or a mug. 
    2. You can use your hands or a cloth to move the ketchup around in circular motions. Again there is no need to be abrasive here or roughly scrub at stuck parts. This can scratch the copper rather than get rid of the tarnish. 
    3. Rinse the ketchup thoroughly with warm water. The tarnish should naturally come off with warm water. 

    One of the biggest reasons that ketchup is a popular alternative is that not every copper item can be put in a solution. Sinks, lamps, or bigger objects need to have a paste put on them rather than be soaked. This is the best way for those who want to know how to clean a copper sink. 

    How to Clean Copper Like a Pro

    How to Clean Copper With Coke

    If you have a bottle of coke in your house this can be a handy method to clean copper. For items like jewelry that are small and can be soaked, consider using this method. Coke is also a great option when wanting to know how to clean copper pans and pots that you can soak in the sink. Here is how you can do it. 

    1. Whatever you are cleaning, place it into a bowl or if slightly larger like a pan into the sink. Make sure the drain is plugged and buy enough coke so that you can completely cover the item. 
    2. The idea is to leave the item for about an hour to soak. This is especially true for items like pans that have burnt copper. 
    3. The difference when using coke to a solution such as lemon or ketchup, is you don’t have to scrub or wipe away anything. Simply rinse it off when you are done and that should be enough to dissolve the tarnish. 
    How to Clean Copper Like a Pro

    How to Clean Copper and Brass 

    Usually copper isn’t hanging out just on its own. It naturally mixed with other compounds in a lot of cases such as nickel or brass. It doesn’t always change the method of cleaning too much but there sometimes is a slight difference in how resistant it is to certain methods. 

    Try Using Vinegar

    1. Mix vinegar and salt together in the same combination you do for lemon and salt. Let the salt dissolve, so you don’t have an abrasive mixture.
    2. For particularly tarnished items, let the items soak in the mixture instead of trying to wipe them down with a cloth. This will allow it to marinate and loosen. 
    3. After 15-20 minutes, remove the items from the soak and rinse them with warm water. Dry off with a microfiber cloth. For any areas that seem to be stuck, you can use an alternative cloth to scrub lightly. 
    How to Clean Copper Like a Pro


      How do you clean badly tarnished copper?

      The methods above are all great ways to clean badly tarnished copper. Which one, to be exact, depends on a number of factors. The size of the piece makes a difference between,, as mentioned soaking a sink won’t necessarily work. However, you may find that some solutions work better than others. Why? Because the composite of the compound is important. When different compounds are mixed, they will react differently to different solutions. 

      How do you remove oxidation from copper?

      Most people don’t realize that oxidation is the process of how copper tarnishes. When oxygen and humid temperatures come in contact with the copper, it develops a blackish residue that stays until properly cleaned off. The best way to remove this is to use one of the above cleaning methods. If you are working with the jewelry, you can use a jewelry cleaner, but sometimes they have harsh chemicals in them. 

      How do you make copper shiny again?

      This is one of the most frequently asked questions, so we thought we would include it here. The best way to make it shine bright is to use the best-fitting method listed above. Whether it be vinegar, acidic fruit, or ketchup, when you find yourself not having a lot of success, you may need to soak the items longer than you intended to let them marinate. 


      • Ketchup
      • Vinegar
      • Salt and lemon

      Copper Is Cooperative

      There are a lot of compounds out there that are not so easy to clean. And while copper can sometimes put up a good fight when it comes to its tarnish, copper is still one of the easier ones to deal with. Copper tarnishes giving it a dull gray/black color when it’s exposed to oxygen. This is oxidation and while you can’t stop it from happening you can work to reverse some of the results. 

      Deep cleaning with any of the above methods combined with taking care of your copper materials will result in shiny copper all of the time! And no matter how big or how small the item, there is a method to try for all of them!