The BEST Way to Clean Copper (with a SECRET Hack!!)

4 Materials
15 Minutes

Learn the BEST way to clean copper with the toughest stains using this hack, and make your own copper cleaning kit to keep at home!

For more DIYS and family fun visit Hammers N Hugs!

Recently I went on a mission to clean my copper pots and pans and discover the best way to clean copper for myself. 

As you can see from the photo above there are grease stains, burns, and a lot of build up. 

That pan second to the left was my first copper pan ever.  I bought it several years ago when I started to replace the collection from our wedding registry, and guess what? 

I have NEVER cleaned it since! 

All the copper lovers just started crying. I know. I’m sorry. I beg your forgiveness.  

Here was my set up. 4 different techniques on 4 different pans.

  1. Toothpaste
  2. Lemon juice
  3. Lemon juice and baking soda
  4. White vinegar and salt

This one was with toothpaste. 

I scrubbed and scrubbed, and I was starting to get a hand cramp.

I had barely gotten a tiny circle on the bottom of the pan as you can see above.

I love a good comparison post, but this was taking way too long.

I tried the lemon juice next.

The results were actually worse. Without the friction of the gritty toothpaste it didn’t really take traction and the lemon juice just ran off. 

I moved on or else I would still be standing there. 

Next was the paste made of lemon juice and baking soda. 

The paste was better than just the lemon juice, but again, the amount of time it was taking to get the faintest shine was giving me acid reflux. 

Momma aint got NO time for this.

So I moved on to method 4 - white vinegar and salt - that was the WINNER with a secret hack! (insert all my praise hands here)

First of all, I watched the above video on YouTube which is where I started for the white vinegar and salt.

You will notice that his method is to sprinkle salt on the pan and then pour vinegar over and scrub with sponge. 

This method is effective, but on pots that haven’t been cleaned in years it was minimally effective for me. 

So . . . what did I discover?

Read below for the best way to clean copper with this hack – even ones that haven’t been cleaned in years!


So I was also holding the camera in one hand, but the way to do this is hold the vinegar in one hand and the salt in the other and sprinkle the salt on right after the vinegar in order to keep the vinegar from rolling off. 

Do this several times.

This video file cannot be played.(Error Code: 102630)

This is it. 

Don’t start “scouring” right away, but instead take both hands and actually massage the mixture into all the copper. 

I think the abrasiveness of the salt almost acts like a scour while carrying the acidity of the vinegar. 

You are literally giving your copper an exfoliating massage. This way the whole pan is coated. 

You will see a huge difference in this step alone, but then let the copper sit for 5-10 minutes.


Now you can use a scouring pad or sponge or whatever you need to get off those burns. But look at the difference just by rubbing the mixture over the pot and letting it sit?!


Lastly, I just washed the pot like I would have with soap and water.


I mean WOW. 

This technique took so little effort as compared to the other 3 that I cleaned the rest with the above method while doing a little happy dance.





Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. More info

Top Hometalk Projects

Grab Some Pool Noodles And Copy These 3 Ideas
18 Stunning Backsplash Ideas You Do Not Want To Miss!
3 Gorgeous Decor Projects In The Oh-So-Chic Geometric Style
31 Gorgeous Homemade Candle Ideas You're Going to Want to Try
15 Ways To Upcycle And Create More Storage At The Same Time
Turn Dollar Store Laundry Basket Into Wreath Form In 8 Easy Steps
Quick Easter Egg Ideas That Are Just Too Cute
Ahna Fulmer // Hammers N Hugs

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Judy Bergman
    Judy Bergman
    on Nov 1, 2020

    Am wondering if this is a safe method to clean a copper kettle from the 1800's?

    • Comet
      on Nov 25, 2020

      I have an authentic ancient American copper teakettle. It has dovetailed base jointing, which may or may not be lead soldered!! I am not a fan of the **stripoed copper** pinkish look that some polishes can leave. On any old metal you need to decide if the outer colour is tarnish, patina, or, in the case of some household items, if it has a coating from cooking grease (even if it wasn't in the kitchen!) and or old wax or polish. Even with polish that may NOT come off because the metal is *sealed* under that coating. Some pieces were even coated with lacquer!!

      I have used the ketchup method- which does work!!- and the specialty copper product. Also Tarnex, which smells off for a sec but works & then after rinsing smells fine.

      If metal is SO bad that nothing is touching the crud, and it is NOT a valuable antique, I have used BonAmi-- the powdered kind. It can help cut thru the gunk on top of the metal. I have even used this on Sterling (at my own risk!!) and had it work, then use an actual metal cleaner/polish for the tarnish.

  • Mandy Lockman
    Mandy Lockman
    on Nov 14, 2020

    Will the salt n vinger work this good on copper that is old(very old). It is tarnished to almost a green color.

    • Comet
      on Nov 25, 2020

      That is not tarnish, it is called verdigris, and is what copper does naturally. Think twice before removing it, it is actually part of the metal, and a proud mark of the items age.

Join the conversation

3 of 35 comments
Your comment...