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How to Clean Copper Pans and Make Them Look Brand New

copper pot on a wooden table with assorted vegetables being tossed in

With their vibrant colour, shiny exterior, and luxurious texture, it’s no surprise that copper pans are sought after by homeowners who are looking to display their cookware. Of course, aesthetics aside, copper pots and pans serve their functional purpose perfectly well. In fact, copper conducts and retains heat better than most types of metals used in cookware and therefore, provides more evenly cooked food while keeping the contents hot for longer durations. They do, however, come at a stiffer price when compared to cast iron and stainless steel cookware. This is just another reason why it’s important to understand the right way to clean and care for copper pans.

Perhaps, the only advantage stainless steel and cast iron have over copper is that they aren’t delicate in nature. In other words, there’s not much thought that goes into cleaning them other than a few simple dos and don’ts. Copper, on the other hand, reacts to certain types of chemicals and substances (such as bleach) while the material itself is not scratch-proof. Along with this, it is not advisable to leave copper pans wet because they are prone to patination. 

So, how do you clean copper and restore their original shiny exterior? Read on to find out everything you need to know about cleaning and caring for copper pots and pans.

How Often Do Copper Pans Need to be Cleaned & Polished?

three polished copper pots on a wooden table

To keep copper cookware looking its best, you should wash pots and pans immediately after they cool down. This is because, the longer they remain dirty, the more likely the metal is to tarnish prematurely. Moreover, when you allow food and grease to harden in the pan, scrubbing and cleaning it safely becomes more challenging as the job requires quite a bit of elbow grease. Bear in mind that you cannot use abrasive cleaning tools or harsh detergents as they can scratch and damage the metal. With that in mind, it is highly recommended that you clean your copper pans after every use to ensure that the task is easier, and the result is satisfactory.

As far as polishing is concerned, a good practice for regular upkeep of copper pans is to polish them at least once in six months. Of course, under some circumstances, you might find that your copper cookware has fallen prey to tarnish in a shorter span of time; therefore, the frequency of polishing copper pans will depend on their usage, the types of cleaning and care methods used, and ultimately, how quickly they show visible signs of tarnish.

With this useful information in your back pocket, let’s get on with Maid For You’s guide to cleaning and polishing copper pans.

What You’ll Need

assorted eco-friendly cleaning products on a white background

  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Non-abrasive scrubber/sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Soft towel
  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar/lemon extract
  • Small bowl

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean & Polish Copper Pans

five copper pots hanving from a wooden board

So long as you know the appropriate methods and how to go about them, it really is very simple to learn how to clean copper pans, and polish them thereafter. Let’s begin!

Step 1: Clean With Soap and Water

Using a gentle soap and soft scrubber or sponge, wet the pan and begin cleaning it, inside and outside. If you are dealing with hardened food bits or stubborn grease, make a warm, soapy solution and pour it into the pan; allow it to soak for about 15 minutes and then clean it out. Avoid submerging copper pots and pans in water as prolonged exposure to moisture encourages patina. After you have washed the pan thoroughly, be sure to dry it properly with a soft, dry towel, inside and outside. 

Step 2: Make a DIY Polishing Paste for Copper

The most effective way to polish copper pans is by using an all-natural approach. This involves making a DIY polishing paste with baking soda and either white distilled vinegar or lemon juice. Since the paste should not be too dry or too runny, the best way to get the right consistency is to first add the baking soda to a plastic bowl (as much as you will require as per the size of the pan), and then gradually add small amounts of lemon extract/vinegar with a teaspoon; keep mixing the ingredients as you go until the desired consistency is reached. 

Step 3: Polish the Pan

Apply the polishing paste to the exterior of the pan using your fingers or a dry microfibre cloth. Then, in circular motions, buff the copper pan all around, spending at least 10 seconds on each section before moving to the next. The reason why this paste is so effective in polishing copper is due to the acidic nature of lemon juice/vinegar, and the mild abrasion baking soda offers which is non-damaging to copper surfaces. When you are happy with the result, finish off your copper pan cleaning and polishing with the final step.

Step 4: Rinse Off and Dry the Pan

After the polishing paste has done its job, the last thing you need to do is rinse it off thoroughly. Do this under running water (preferably warm water), and again, dry the copper pan properly with a clean, dry towel. Allow the pan to air out for at least 30 minutes before storing it in a cabinet. If you are displaying your copper cookware on hooks in your kitchen, simply dry the pan and hang it up right away.

That’s really all it takes to make your copper pans shine again! Of course, if you want to extend their lifespan and successfully maintain their sheen for years to come, regular polishing and timely cleaning with the right tools and products is a must. So, before patina claims its victory over your copper pots and pans, use the cleaning tips and guide above to keep them looking as good as new!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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