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

Ahna Fulmer
by Ahna Fulmer
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 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.





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Ahna Fulmer
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  2 questions
  • Judy Bergman Judy Bergman on Nov 01, 2020

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

  • 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.

Join the conversation
3 of 43 comments
  • Laura Laura on Nov 02, 2021

    I have an aunt in her 90’s who has been using Bar Keepers Friend on her Revere Ware copper bottoms and swears by it. I started using Revere Ware’s Instant Copper Polish when I first got my copper bottom pots & pans over 40 years ago. I soon changed over to Bar Keepers Friend, which can also be used on other materials. The trick is to clean the copper bottoms after every use with the cleanser.

  • Brenda Hand-Amunrud Brenda Hand-Amunrud on Nov 04, 2021

    My grandmother used Kleen King copper cleaner, similar to bar keepers friend. She just wet the pan, sprinkled some of the cleaner on and let it clean the copper while she did the rest of the dishes. then she wiped it off and the pan was perfectly clean no scrubbing needed. Of course she did this every time she used her Revere Ware. I inherited a Revere Ware copper bottom pan from my Aunt and the bottom was black. I had to scrub the pan several times with Kleen King before I realized it was a copper bottom pan.

    • Brenda Hand-Amunrud Brenda Hand-Amunrud on Nov 04, 2021

      P.S. it also gets off those pesky black marks left in your sink by metal pans and utensils only very light scrubbing required. I have multiple sclerosis and don't have much strength.