How to Clean Copper
10/30/2017 | The Metal Peddler
In our first "How to" spot, we will answer the most common questions we receive: "How do I clean my copper?" and "Will it tarnish?"
Well, the answer really is - it depends. Yes, copper will tarnish over time as it reacts with the air and it will develop a patina. That patina will be different depending on whether the item is inside or outside. If you add rain, salty air, or pollutants to the mix, the patina will eventually turn an attractive green, a look many people find very desirable (think of copper roofs that have turned green). So, for those who want the patina-look, minimal cleaning is required and certainly no polishing!
For those of you who buy copper for the warm shine & polished look, say for your kitchen, there are many ways of very easily keeping that wonderful look.
Solid copper Vs Copper-plated
Copper is a very popular metal, not only because it looks so great but because it is strong & versatile. It is also very durable and will last many years, but will the finish look so good in that many years? Many manufacturers use copper-plated steel or iron which can start off looking great. Eventually, that plating can start to thin out, leaving a piece looking irregular with the metal underneath showing through and ruining the whole look.
With solid copper, your piece can look as good in 20, 30 or 50 years as it does today!
There are many products available that you can use to clean up your copper, or you can make your own products from ingredients in your pantry!
First of all, is your product lacquered? If so, please follow the instructions from the manufacturer because polishing can ruin the lacquer.
Dusting and occasional cleaning with warm soapy water can often be enough for your copper. But to get that wonderful shine back here are a few tried and tested methods:
Shop Bought Products
Most are fast and easy, but follow instructions and maintain caution with some.
Wenol All Metal Polish, Bar Keeper’s Friend, Wright’s Copper Cream and Brasso are just a few. Our current favorite is Brasso Multi-Purpose Metal Polish which produces a wonderful polished finish.
- Shake well
- Apply to a soft dry cloth
- Rub lightly all over the copper to loosen dirt
- Allow to dry for a few minutes
- Polish with a soft dry cloth.
Home Made Solutions
There are some very easy ways to clean copper by just raiding your fridge or pantry! Some of these are great on flat pieces, like the bottom of copper pots.
- Ketchup. Smear ketchup all over the area, Leave for 5-10 minutes and rinse clean!
- Lemon halves & salt. Dip half a lemon into salt and rub across the copper. Rinse & dry.
- Lemon & salt paste. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt (or baking soda), rub into the copper with a cloth, rinse with water and dry
- Solution to make & keep. This is one you can make up and store in a glass jar with a secure lid for future use.
- Mix ½ cup each of flour, salt and powdered detergent
- Add ¾ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup of lemon juice, ½ cup warm water
- Mix well and pour into the glass jar, label and seal.
- To use, add a small amount onto a cloth and rub it into Copper. Use a toothbrush for hard to reach areas.
- Rinse with water and rub dry with a clean cloth.