How To Clean Copper Pans Using All Natural Ingredients Easily

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Do you want to know how to clean copper pans? Do you want to know how to clean copper pieces and polish copper without using harsh chemicals found in traditional copper cleaners? We all know copper tarnishes and can be difficult to clean. This has been on my kitchen to-do list for quite some time. I have some copper pots and a strainer that have stubborn stains and are just plain dingy-looking. I decided to try a bunch of DIY methods for cleaning copper, using natural ingredients, to see what would work best. It doesn’t have to stop with cleaning copper pots and copper cookware, you can use these techniques to clean other copper items as well.

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How To Clean Copper Video

Let’s get started on how to clean copper pans.

Here are the top 3 winners!

Salt, Vinegar, and Flour - In a bowl I mixed together 1 cup vinegar, 1 Tablespoon salt, and added flour mixing it together to make a paste. Mine was a bit runny as you can tell. I let it sit on the copper for 1 hour. You could almost see it working immediately though.

Method 1: How to Clean Copper with White Vinegar, Salt and Flour Paste

In a bowl I mixed 1 cup of vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of salt, and added flour, mixing it together with a spoon to make a polishing paste. If you don’t have vinegar, I think you could substitute lemon juice for vinegar as both have acidic properties.

Mine was a bit runny as you can see, but a thick paste will make less of a mess. I spread it on the entire surface and let it sit on the copper for 1 hour. Because of the chemical reaction, you could almost see it working on the surface of the copper immediately.

Once the hour was up I rinsed it off and look how clean it was! This image shows the results of salt, vinegar and flour paste to clean copper.

Once the hour was up I rinsed it off with warm water and the good news was it made my pots shine without a bit of elbow grease! The combination of the weak acids of the vinegar and the gentle abrasive of the salt really tackled the tough stains on my copper.

Boil Method - In a pot 1 cup vinegar, 1 Tablespoon salt, and add water to fill the pot so that the copper is covered.

Method 2: How to Clean Copper with Vinegar Boil Method

In a pot mix 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 Tablespoon salt, and add water to fill the pot so that the copper surface is covered.

Bring to a boil and place the copper in the mixture. This images shows a small copper bottomed pot in the vinegar boil method.

Bring to a boil and place the copper in the mixture.

It will depend on how much tarnish is on the copper to determine how long it will need to sit, but over all it didn't take long at all. I think mine only was in there 30 seconds or less.

The amount of time you need to let it sit, will depend on how much tarnish is on the copper. It didn’t take long at all for mine, 30 seconds or less. The boil method was fast and an amazing copper transformation. The acidity in the vinegar started cleaning the copper very quickly.

Lemon Juice & Salt Paste - I poured about 1 Tablespoon into a bowl, added salt and mixed until I created a paste. I used a scrub pad to scoop up the mixture and made circular motions on the bottom of the pan.

Method 3: How to Clean Copper with Lemon Juice and Salt Paste

I poured about 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice into a bowl, added table salt and mixed until I created a paste. I used a scrub pad to scoop up the mixture and rubbed the copper bottoms in a circular motion.

After it was as clean as I could get it, I rinsed it off and wiped it dry.

After it was as clean as I could get it, I gave it a good rinse and wiped it dry.

Here's what didn't work... Ketchup/Tomato Sauce - I spread ketchup on the left side and tomato sauce on the right. I let it sit for 15 minutes.

Cleaning Copper Pan Fails

Here’s what didn’t work for my cleaning copper tests:

Fail 1: Ketchup and Tomato Sauce to Clean Copper

I spread ketchup on the left side and tomato sauce on the right. I let it sit for 15 minutes. I thought the acid in the tomatoes would clean copper, but neither of them got the copper very clean in my test.

I rubbed at both sides after the 15 minutes, and rinsed it off. The ketchup did a little work but the tomato sauce didn't really do anything.

I scrubbed both sides after the 15 minutes, and rinsed it off. The ketchup did a little work but the tomato sauce didn’t really do anything to the surface of the pan.

Lime - I rubbed a lime all over the copper for several minutes and it might have gotten a little lighter but overall I was not impressed.

Fail 2: Cleaning Copper with Lime

I rubbed a lime all over the copper for several minutes and it might have gotten a little lighter but overall I was not impressed.

Regular Toothpaste - I rubbed on regular toothpaste with a soft cloth. I rinsed it off and sadly it again showed a little change but not a lot.

Fail 3: Cleaning Copper with Regular Toothpaste

I rubbed on regular toothpaste with a soft, clean rag. I rinsed it off and sadly it again showed a little change but not a lot.

My favorite to the test: I was ready to do my copper strainer. I decided my favorite was the salt, vinegar, and flour mixture.

My Favorite Cleaning Copper Test

I was ready to do my copper strainer. I decided my favorite was the salt, vinegar, and flour mixture.

I coated the strainer with the mixture, and you could see it working immediately. I let it sit for an hour and rinsed it off.

I coated the strainer with the mixture, and you could see it working immediately. I let it sit for an hour and rinsed it off.

This technique made it sparkle again and it was so easy to do. *With all of the techniques there were a few dark spots left behind. I'm not sure what those are but I could not get some of them to budge for a perfect finish.

This technique made it sparkle again and it was by far the easiest way to clean any copper item!

*With all of the techniques there were a few dark spots and discoloration left behind. I’m not sure what those are but I could not get some of them to budge for a perfect finish.

Cleaning Copper Pan Tips

So now that you have seen the best way in my opinion, here are some other tips:

  • Use a clean, soft cloth. It can be a dry cloth, a microfiber towel or soft sponge.
  • Make sure to remove all of the food particles and food residue and start with clean pots by washing them with mild dish soap and warm soapy water.
  • Use high heat with the white distilled vinegar to make sure the water and vinegar are boiling for best results.
  • You can use coarse salt or baking soda instead of table salt to get rid of the copper oxide.
  • Some people like to use commercial copper cleaners, like Bar Keepers Friend or Wright’s Copper Cream. I prefer to stick with more natural ingredients.
  • I haven’t had luck with tomato paste.
  • Yes, this can clean more than copper kitchenware. Try cleaning copper pipes and copper sinks.
  • Depending on how bad things are it can be really difficult to get all of the black spots off.
  • You can use a lemon half or fresh lemon with the salt method instead of lemon juice if you prefer.

Now that you know how to clean copper, learn how to patina copper. Follow this guide to create a beautiful patina on copper: How To Patina Copper Pennies – Easy DIY Tutorial With Video.

Learn more about “Why to Deep Clean and Organize Your Home” to save money, function better, and keep your sanity. 

Common Questions About Cleaning Copper Pans

What is the most effective copper cleaner?

In my opinion, the most effective copper cleaner is a mixture of salt, vinegar, and flour. It removes tough stains and restores the shine without harsh chemicals or a lot of scrubbing. I let the paste sit on the copper strainer and with little effort, the grime easily rinsed off.

What cleans copper the fastest?

The boil method (Method 2) with a mixture of white vinegar and salt is the fastest way to clean copper, with results in 30 seconds or less. Boiling vinegar creates a chemical reaction that helps break down the tarnish on copper surfaces, making it easier to clean and restore their shine.

Does vinegar clean copper?

Yes, vinegar is an effective cleaner for copper. When combined with salt and flour, it creates a polishing paste that removes tarnish and restores shine to copper surfaces. Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar both work to clean copper. If you do not have enough vinegar, substitute with apple cider vinegar. Acids like vinegar dissolve the copper oxide layer, which is responsible for tarnishing, making it easier to clean and restore the shine to copper.

What causes copper to tarnish?

Copper tarnishes due to a natural chemical reaction with exposure to oxygen and moisture, forming copper oxide on the surface, which results in a tarnished appearance.


How To Clean Copper Pans Video

Organic Cleaning - DIY Recipes and Tips To Clean the Chemical-Free and Natural Way

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Do you want to know how to clean copper pans? I decided to try a bunch of copper cleaning hacks to see what would work best to clean it.

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29 Comments

  1. I like copper and have quite a few pieces. I usually buy Noxxon to clean them but your flour salt and vinegar method looks so easy and more economical. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Pat and I’d love to know what you think after you give it a try.

    1. Thanks Stacey, let me know how it works for you 🙂

  2. Thank you! I have a copper strainer that needs this today!! And a large pot too. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you and I’m so glad this will be useful to you too 🙂

  3. We’ve gt copper bottomed pans and I’m afraid to admit I’ve never tried to clean them. I’ll try your top suggestion and then I can dazzle people with my super lovely pans. Thanks.

    1. Love that you want to give this a try Julie – let me know how it goes 🙂

  4. Donna Marie says:

    I use Copper Glo that comes in a can and it works quite well!!!

  5. Thank you for sharing all the experiments you tried – some were very creative! Good to know what the best way is !!

    1. Thank you Kristine, it’s good to share what we’ve learned with each other.

  6. I don’t have any copper items, but excellent to know! Pinned.

    1. Thank you Alexandra, and thanks for the Pin

  7. Such a beautiful post! I’d luv to invite you to join us and share over at Charming Homes & Gardens Link Party. We’d luv to have you??‍♀️

    1. Thank you so much Ann, and thanks for the invite.

  8. Great test and tutorial, and you included the fails too. Thx for posting at Funtastic Friday.

  9. I am going to use your favorite method to clean my copper stuff.Great tutorial. I hope I can do it as well as you .Pitstop

    1. Thank you Amrita, and I hope it works for you as great as it did for me. So glad you stopped by

  10. Wow! That is amazing. Pinning!

    Thanks for sharing with Creative Compulsions!
    Michelle
    mybijoulifeonline.com

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