Copper pots, mugs and home decor items are both beautiful and functional. Exposing your copper to everyday use like water, cooking oils and even air can cause it to tarnish or patina.
Patina is when a green or brown film appears on the surface of metals like copper, brass, or silver. When copper patinas, it can naturally become darker or spotted, and in some cases it can develop a beautiful turquoise patina.
Many people embrace the natural patina of copper, but what if you want to restore it to its original shining finish? There are many ways to clean copper, bringing it back to its former glory.
In this post, I will show examples of many of the most popular cleaning solutions for copper, including vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, ketchup, and cleaners like Bar Keepers Friend.
You will be able to see the results and choose which one is best for you and hopefully find a solution to use with ingredients you already have at home.
Before beginning my tests, I assumed that the chemical-based cleaner would perform the best—but I was shocked by the results and will never go back!
Cleaning Copper Pots with Vinegar
In a cup, mix 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons flour and enough white vinegar to create a paste.
Use a spoon or your finger to spread the paste over the copper surface you want to clean. Use a wet cloth to rub it off and rinse with water when you are done.
As you can see below, the results of this method are amazing. As soon as I applied the paste, the color began to change instantly. For dark spots, do a second application and allow it to sit a few minutes before wiping off.
My review of this method is a 10/10 because these are ingredients I always have on hand, the results were great and I was able to avoid any harsh chemicals. If you have these ingredients, this is the first method I would recommend trying!
Cleaning Copper with Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
The next method I wanted to try is lemon juice with baking soda. I was very optimistic about this method because the ingredients have worked great for me in other cleaning contexts.
The results, however, were pretty disappointing. You can see in the second image that the baking soda makes a big bubble mess (be sure to do this in a sink). I mixed equal parts fresh lemon juice and baking soda.
Once the bubbles settled, the mixture was very watery, so I tried pouring it directly on the surface and rubbing it on using a paper towel.
I would rate this method a 4/10. You can see that it did make some color change on the surface of the copper, but it did not clean deeply the way the vinegar versions did.
I would only recommend this method if you don’t have any of the other ingredients on hand.
Cleaning Copper with Ketchup
I tried cleaning copper with ketchup. I had seen this done before, so I assumed it would work. But I was curious how it would compare to the vinegar method.
I squirted some ketchup directly onto the copper and spread it on the surface with my finger. I let it sit on the copper for a full minute before scrubbing it with a cloth and rinsing it.
This method worked great! If you want a slightly more subtle cleaning that leaves more patina texture, I would recommend it. It is not as powerful as the vinegar method, but it works really well.
I also love that ketchup is an easy ingredient to find and many of us already have it on hand! 8/10
Cleaning Copper with Bar Keepers Friend
I have used Bar Keepers Friend many times in the past to clean my copper pots. They make a liquid and a powder version, which is useful for different things. I like that it is effective and fast.
I don’t love that it has harmful ingredients and is not safe to keep around a kid-friendly house. It’s important to use gloves while cleaning with Bar Keepers Friend.
Before trying these other methods, I fully expected Bar Keepers Friend to be the clear winner. After doing this test, I can honestly say that the vinegar mixture works just as well for cleaning copper.
So while Bar Keepers Friend is fully effective, you have to be sure to wear gloves and keep it stored safely away from small children. It cleans equally well, but is more toxic, so I give it a 7/10.
One last good thing about Bar Keepers friend is that it cleans many different types of surfaces. I actually use it to remove small stains from my quartz countertops.
I hope this post has provided you with more than one good option for cleaning your copper at home. Let us know in the comments if you have a method that has worked well for you!