4 Great Ways to Clean Copper Pots and Pans


Yes, I’m a fan of copper. I’ve been looking into copper pot sets and copper kitchen tools for a while now.

Copper’s best trait is how well it conducts heat, followed shortly thereafter by the visual aesthetic it can add to your kitchen. Whether you’re just looking for a touch of copper with some copper bottom cookware, or a warmer and homier feel with hand hammered copper cookware, it is a distinctive difference to have copper utensils and cooking pots and pans around the kitchen.

I have some Revere copper cookware that has been tarnishing for a few years…the perfect specimen for testing out different methods for cleaning copper.

I caught the experiment on video. Watch the magic in action and I’ll describe each process below.

Let’s take a look at these four great ways to clean copper pots and pans:

Bar Keepers Friend

If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with big copper pots, or just have a lot of copper pans to clean, you might want to buy some Bar Keepers Friend.

Designed to help bar keepers easily clean their bar utensils and metal fixtures, this cleaner gets rid of tarnish the quickest of the four methods I tried out. If you only have a little bit of copper to clean then you might want to consider one of the other methods.

With my current collection of cookware copper, my one container of Bar Keepers Friend seems to be enough to last me 400 years.

homemade copper cleaner #1

If you don’t want to purchase a large quantity of cleaner for your solid copper cookware, you have options that you can make with items that are probably in your home right now.

One option is to mix together equal parts salt, flour, and white vinegar. In the video, I used one teaspoon of each. That was the perfect amount for cleaning the entirety of my copper bottom pan. Even if you have a lot of copper cooking pots & pans, it doesn’t take a large amount of ingredients to mix together this copper cleaner.

homemade copper cleaner #2

Another option for a cleaner, and probably the most natural copper cleaner of the four, is a mixture of salt and lemon juice. One part salt, two parts lemon juice is the ratio for this mixture.

You can also use a lemon wedge as your scrubber. Sprinkle some salt on your copper pans and pots and rub it in with the lemon wedge.

mom’s copper cleaner recipe

As I was preparing to do this whole cleaning test, I called my mom. I told her I was going to try three different cleaning methods, and she suggested a fourth: ketchup.

Really? Yes.

She said she had used it in the past, so I said I’d give it a try. Of the four, it was the least effective, but by no means ineffective. Still, you might not want to use it on all of your kitchen pots and pans.

The key to getting rid of tarnish is acidity. Acid reacts quickly with copper…which is why it isn’t a good idea to cook acidic foods on a copper cooking surface. The copper can leech into the food and distort the taste.

Since you’re dealing with acidic cleaners it is a good idea to wear gloves while cleaning.

steps for cleaning

- Wash your copper with soap and hot water, then dry.
- Apply one of the cleaners to the surface and buff with a sponge or soft cloth.
- Rinse with hot water, then dry.

In the video I used steel wool…my bad. DON’T USE STEEL WOOL.

It ended up scratching the copper a little, even though the copper was gleaming brilliantly. At most, use a toothbrush to scrub the tough spots. Other than that you shouldn’t need any special cleaning utensils.

The power is in your hands! Get cleanin’!


One thought on “4 Great Ways to Clean Copper Pots and Pans

  1. It worked!!!! I used the lemon and salt and a steel wool pad. Hadn’t cleaned this pot in years, and got it brilliant in about 6 minutes…the time it took for my iced tea to brew. Now to do the others. I’ll wait until I’m cooking again and waiting for something to heat or finish. This is a really easy solution. Thank you

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