DIY cleaning vintage copper

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Cleaning copper

I love old copper dishes, especially if they have green or blue patina. 

Unfortunately, copper often turns completely black after not being cleaned for a long time.

After searching the web and experimenting, including using metal cleaning commercial agents, I realized that using household vinegar with some salt..... gives a result that is as good as (and cheaper) from cleaning using commercial metal cleaners.


1. Wash the copper dish with dish soap and warm water.

2. To remove lacquer that might be covering the copper, immerse in boiling water until the water cool down to room temprature. Small fragments of lacquer will be floating in the water. To remove any lacquer left on the dish, use steel wool

3. Mix some 5% household vinegar (in volume beeded to cover the dish, with some salt ( about one tablespoon salt to one cup 250 ml of vinegar). Some of the salt might not be dissolved. That's ok.

Use a plastic or glass dish. It makes holes and rust in metal dishes!!

4. Immerse the copper dish in the mixture. Leave it there for about 30 minutes or so The dish needs to be completely covered.

Brass will turn black in this mixture!!

5. Take the dish out and wash with dish soap and warm water. If there are tarnished spots, use steel wool to remove it.

You better use gloves, since if you have any cuts in your hands, it will burn abit... 

6. Dry with a soft cloth and leave in the sun to completely dry.

7. You can now leave it as it is or cover with some metal lacquer. Another way to delay tarnishing of the copper is to rub the dish with some olive oil.

8. If you have a large copper dish to clean, you need alot of vinegar and a large bowl to immerse it in. Instead you can use a smaller volume of liquid and change the position of the copper dish inside. Another way is to immerse the dish in a low volume of sulution and cover it with a cloth that absorbs the liquid. The problem with the above techniques is that you dont always get a uniform look of the copper, there will be cleaner parts and tarnished ones.

Since I do alot of copper cleaning, I prefer to use the technique of immersing  the dish in a large volume of the mixture. I then, store the solution in a tightly closed plastic bottle to be used again.To keep the solution clean as possible I use it with pre washed copper dishes.

The same solution can be used to create blue patina on copper:






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