Cleaning Copper Quickly

People have been cleaning things for ages.  This may come as a surprise to you.  In many cases, commercial manufacturers have come up with handy-dandy cleaning products that help you clean stuff without all the elbow grease.

Sometimes, though, the oldest trick in the book is the best one.  Here you will see some proof of that.

My parents adopted these copper trays from a friend of theirs who didn’t want them anymore.  But of course they needed to be cleaned.  That greenish patina does help to prevent corrosion, but isn’t all that pretty in this particular situation.

My mother sat there with the metal polish for forever on one tiny spot and she wasn’t really getting anywhere.  So I decided to try the age-old method of lemon juice and salt to clean it up.


You may remember this little “science” experiment from grade school, where you dissolved some salt into lemon juice (or white vinegar works well too) and dropped a bunch of dirty dull pennies into the liquid.  Quick as a flash, you had the pretty pink pennies once again! 

What happens is the acidity of the lemon juice combined with the salt dissolves the oxide patina covering the copper, leaving the clean pinkish copper revealed.

So you can do this, too.

Dissolve some regular table salt into lemon juice and either dip a cloth into it and scrub your copper, or pour it directly on the copper.

You can also spread lemon juice over the copper and sprinkle salt on top of that.  Or salt and THEN lemon juice.  The application method is up to you, really.

Wait a few seconds …

Then you can see the difference!

For corners and tricky bits, try dipping a lemon slice in salt and using it as a scrubber.

Tada, pretty pink copper.

Copper tarnishes quickly, so if you’re not planning on using it for food, spray on a clear lacquer to prevent further oxidization.


Author: allythebell

A corgi. A small boy. A sense of adventure. Chaos ensues.

3 thoughts on “Cleaning Copper Quickly”

  1. You beat me to the “use a cut lemon dipped in salt as a scrubbing tool” suggestion – it’s one of my favourites.

    Did you know that ketchup makes a PHENOMENAL copper polish, too? Helps prevent the tarnish from setting in for a little longer.


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