How To Clean Copper Pans

How To Clean Copper Pans

Copper pans are known for their beautiful and classic appearance. Those who grew up in the 1980s and 90s may even remember them hanging on kitchen walls as decorations. But whether you use copper pans to beautify your kitchen or to cook, they need regular care and cleaning. 

Over time, copper can react with other materials, including water. These reactions can cause your pans to look tarnished and even take on a bluish-green hue. Keeping your cookware looking its best simply takes some know-how and a few ingredients you probably already have stored in your cabinets. 

Learning the Basics


To clean copper pans, here are some helpful tips to help learn the basics. First, if you need to wash out the inside of your pans, you can use dish soap and water. You’ll want to avoid cleaning the pans with anything abrasive like a Brillo pad. Use a soft dish towel, sponge, or soft brush. If there are food particles stuck to the pan and difficult to remove, try soaking the pan in dish soap. You can try soaking for up to 15 minutes and then see if the food breaks away.

Prepping your pans for polishing also works the same way. Use gentle dish soap and warm water with a smooth cloth or sponge. Wipe down the interior and exterior of the pans to clean them. Then, dry them off with a soft towel or cloth. 

Look at the Finish


If the outside of your copper pans is lacquered or finished, you’ll probably notice they have a shine to them. Camryn Rabideau says you can double-check the box or manual the pans came with if you’re unsure. With finished pans, you can clean the exterior using gentle dish soap and a soft cloth. Be sure to dry the pans with a clean towel afterward. 

If you have unfinished pans, that’s where the cleaning process gets to be a little more fun. There are several different ingredients you can use to restore the original look of your pans. 

Use Your Kitchen Staples


One of the formulas you can use is a mixture of tomato paste (or ketchup) and salt. You’ll want to combine a mix of one part salt with two parts tomato paste or ketchup. Then, apply the mixture to the outside of the pans and let it sit for a few minutes. Once a few minutes have gone by, remove the solution with a gentle cloth, rinse with water, and dry.

A mixture of lemon and salt can also work, especially if there’s more tarnish on your pans. Take a lemon, cut it in half, and dip the open side into salt. Apply the salted side of the lemon to the outside of the pan, scrubbing it gently. Let the pan sit for a few minutes until you see the original color come back. Once it does, use dish soap and water to wipe off the mixture and then dry the pan.


For even tougher stains, you can use boiled vinegar. You’ll want to place one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon of salt, and three cups of water in a pot that’s large enough to fit your copper pan. Put your copper pan in the large pot and boil the mixture. You’ll keep it boiling until the tarnish comes off. After the water returns to room temperature, you can remove the copper pan and dry it. 

If All Else Fails

If you don’t have these ingredients, you can use a store-bought cleaner for copper. Just remember not to leave your pans wet after cleaning and don’t use bleach or the dishwasher. The last thing you want is to damage the beauty of these classic kitchen staples.

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