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4 best ways to clean copper

These four treatments to clean copper are surprisingly effective - and chemical free.

Copper pots and pans need to be polished frequently, even when not in use to prevent the pan from corroding.

And because copper cookware shouldn't be washed in the dishwasher, proper care, cleaning, and polishing needs to be done by hand. 

Clean copper safely using cotton gloves and a sponge.

Wear gloves to protect copper's surface from fingerprints during the cleaning process.

Cotton gloves are best; but rubber gloves can work, so long as you wash a new pair of these gloves first. (Any sulfur that remains on the gloves could cause copper to tarnish.)

Always clean copper with a nylon scrubbing pad or a soft sponge. Stay away from anything abrasive, such as steel wool or scouring powder. These could scratch the finish.

Here are 5 ways to clean copper cookware with inexpensive, eco friendly items you probably already have in your kitchen. 

1. How to Clean Copper with White Vinegar and Salt.

Cleaning copper with vinegar and salt works wonders on copper bottom pans. Mix white vinegar and table salt, and stir until the salt dissolves, creating a thick paste. Add salt as needed.

Dip a sponge or scrubber into the solution, and scrub the pan's copper bottom surface. Rinse and dry.

2. How to Clean Copper with Lemon and Salt Paste.

A lemon and salt paste can help remove tough discolorations. Strain the juice from one lemon, or pour a few generous drops of lemon juice into a small container. Add salt until the mixture forms a paste-like texture.

Using a soft, dry cloth, rub the paste over the copper. Rinse with warm water. Polish with with a soft cloth lightly moistened with olive oil for a shiny finish. Allow to air dry.

3. How to Clean Copper Tarnish with Ketchup.

Yes, ketchup. Sounds crazy, I know. But ketchup's natural acidity is quite effective in removing copper tarnish. It's all natural copper care at its finest.

Squeeze a light film of ketchup onto the copper surface. Let sit for several minutes to allow ketchup's acidity begin to do it's work.

Then scrub vigorously with a nylon scrubbing pad or soft sponge. Rinse thoroughly. Polish to a shine with a cloth lightly moistened with olive oil. Allow to air dry.

4. A Copper Polish to Make and Keep.

This solution you can make and keep the extra in a lidded glass jar for future use. Mix 1/2 each of flour, salt, and powder detergent. Add 3/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a glass jar. 

Pour a small amount onto a nylon scrubbing pad or soft sponge and rub it into the tarnished copper bottom. Rinse thoroughly with water, and polish dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Label and seal the left over portion for future copper polishing.

How to Prevent Future Tarnish.

To prevent future copper tarnish: Don't use your copper utensils or pans with copper interiors to store acidic foods such as fruits, salad dressings, tomatoes, or anything containing vinegar. Toxic compounds can form if acidic food is cooked, stored, or served in copper containers.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for more copper cleaning products and tips.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.