All you need are kitchen ingredients and some elbow grease.
Gather Your Ingredients
Below is a comprehensive list of products you would want to have on hand to prevent tarnish, clean copper, and remove tarnish, according to Reinhart.
- Baking soda
- Lemon juice
- Baby oil
- Orange juice (as an alternative)
- Baking Soda for Deep Clean
Note: Baking soda works well for spots that need a little extra attention like the bottom of copper cookware. "The baking soda can be sprinkled on the area, followed by the use a sponge with warm water to gently go over the spot. Don't be too aggressive–you don't want to scratch the copper," says Reichert.
Using Lemon Juice and Salt to Remove Tarnish
Lemon juice and salt are useful for removing tarnish from copper in three easy steps:
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon in a bowl and then sprinkle the salt into the juice. Reichert does a 75:25 ratio, with three times as much lemon to salt.
- Stir for a minute until the salt dissolves.
- Dip a cloth into the solution and wipe the copper.
"It's magic how it immediately removes the tarnish. I use this method instead of dipping the lemon in the salt to prevent the salt from scratching the copper," notes Reichert. Additionally, she advises that if you don't have lemon juice, you can use orange juice as it is also acidic.
The Quick Clean Method
"If you have a large copper item and you want to clean it quickly, you can boil three cups of water, add a cup of vinegar and one tablespoon or more of salt," says Reichert. Next, you would stir until the salt is dissolved and then place the copper item in the water. "The tarnish will come right off."
Reichert details the process to use if you want to use more of a rubbing action for cleaning copper. "You can use ketchup and spread it all around the copper. The acid in the tomatoes will remove the tarnish. After rubbing it all around the item, make sure to thoroughly rinse."
Prevent Copper from Tarnishing
"You can prevent the tarnishing of copper by wiping a light coat of baby oil or mineral oil over it right after cleaning," says Reichert. She adds that you have to be very careful that the copper is cleaned completely before applying the oil. "Copper starts to tarnish as soon as it's cleaned. The oil will seal the copper from the air and slow down the tarnishing process."
Avoid Removing the Finish of Copper
Reichert recommends using the process of the liquid lemon juice and the dissolved salt to avoid removing the finish or scratching the copper. "This simple process is totally liquid and will not damage the copper surface."
How Often You Should Clean and Polish Copper
Because copper starts tarnishing as soon as it hits the air after rinsing, it is your discretion as to how often you would like to clean it. The baby oil trick will slow down the process so you won't have to clean it as often.