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Copper is an attractive material for a mixing bowl…provided it’s nice and shiny! But how do you go about cleaning copper without damaging it? While soap and water work in a pinch, there are more advanced techniques to eliminate copper tarnish. If you’re worried about what cleaners to use on your copper mixing bowl, you’ve got to check out the research we’ve done on this topic.
Whatever you do, please avoid abrasive cleaners like steel wool and bleach. Never put your copper bowl in the dishwasher. Here are a few essential copper cleaning strategies:
- Apply a mix of fresh lemon juice and table salt with a microfiber towel.
- A paste made with salt or baking soda and white vinegar is best for deep-set stains on your copper bowl.
- Spread a little ketchup, wait about 15 minutes, and wash with warm water.
- If the other methods fail, try a store-bought tarnish-removing solution formulated for copper.
Are you still craving copper cleaning techniques? Please keep reading to find out our pro tips on keeping your copper bowls clean for as long as possible.
The Do’s & Don'ts Of Cleaning Copper Bowls
Warm water and mild dishwashing detergent should be your go-to cleaners for copper bowls. However, there are times when this sudsy strategy just won’t cut it. Below, we’ll go over a few of the easiest ways to remove copper tarnish.
A Mix Of Lemon Juice And Salt
The simplest and most popular way to clean copper cookware is known as the “lemon salt method.” As you might’ve guessed, all you need to use this technique are a few fresh lemons and some table salt.
Once you’ve got all your ingredients, cut a lemon in half and dip it in a shallow bowl of salt. Next, rub the salty lemon vigorously around your copper bowl and watch as the grime fades away. Keep re-applying more salt to your lemon and wipe your copper bowl until you’re satisfied.
When you’re finished, you can wipe your copper bowl with a soft, microfiber towel like the one below.
If you don’t feel comfortable running your fresh lemon around your bowl, don’t worry. You could dip a microfiber towel into a mix of lemon juice and salt and run the towel around your copper bowl. Either way, the combination of lemon and salt will remove unsightly tarnish.
Don’t have lemons in the fridge? Don’t fret. You can substitute with limes or even a dab of orange juice.
If you’d like to see this “lemon salt method” in action, be sure to check out this quick YouTube tutorial:
Like salt, white vinegar is a pantry staple that can remove stains on copper bowls. For the best results, pour about ¼ cup of vinegar into a bowl and add a few dashes of salt. Stir it until the salt dissolves, then wet a clean microfiber rag with the vinegar mix. Rub your towel on any copper stains until they begin to dissolve.
If the salt and vinegar method doesn’t work for you, try adding about ¼ cup of flour to the mix. Stir these ingredients until they’ve created a rich paste and apply it to the stains on your copper bowl. Let the paste sit for about 10-20 minutes before rinsing with warm water and soap.
For a little extra buffing action, you could use a clean brush with any of the above methods.
While we’re talking about vinegar, did you know you could use this product to clean deep fryers? If you’re curious about this topic, be sure to check out How To Clean A Deep Fryer With Vinegar.
Ketchup isn’t just for French fries; it’s also great for cleaning copper bowls. The natural acids in tomatoes help to remove marks commonly found on copper bowls.
Simply apply a thin paste of ketchup to your copper bowl stains, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and wash away with warm water. Alternatively, you could rub the ketchup around with a clean toothbrush to buff out those marks.
Interestingly, ketchup isn’t the only condiment that’s useful as a copper cleanser. Some people also use Worcestershire sauce or tamarind paste to wipe away tarnish marks. Please give either of these options a try if ketchup isn’t cutting it!
If the natural methods above didn't work quite how you wanted them to, you can use a store-bought solution. These solutions have been specially formulated for your copper kitchenware. They work to remove any tarnish without scratching your bowls.
Can Copper Bowls Go In The Dishwasher?
Pro chefs always recommend hand-washing your copper products with warm water and a mild dishwashing detergent. While it’s certainly easier to pop your copper bowl in the dishwasher, this can cause significant discoloration.
If you’re looking for an excellent detergent for copper, it’s always a great idea to go with Dawn.
Can You Clean Copper With Steel Wool?
You should never use steel wool to clean a copper bowl. Expert chefs point out that this abrasive cleaner will cause significant damage to the copper’s outer layer. For a similar reason, you should avoid using scouring powders on your copper bowl.
Copper Patina – How To Remove It & How To Preserve It
One of the unique features of natural copper is that it forms a blueish patina over time (think the Statue of Liberty color). Some people love maintaining their patina, while others can’t stand it. In this last section, we’ll share a few cleaning strategies for patina lovers and haters.
How Do You Remove Oxidation From Copper?
There’s no way to prevent copper from oxidizing. So, if you’re not a fan of the oxidized marks that inevitably appear on these bowls, you need to be proactive about your polishing.
Here’s an easy way to remove oxidation stains in a few minutes:
- Create a thick paste with a 3:1 ratio of baking soda to white vinegar.
- After your paste is well mixed, add it to the oxidation site and let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- When you’re ready, scrub away the baking soda mix with a clean microfiber towel.
- You could then wash away any remaining paste with tap water and soap before drying with your microfiber towel.
If this method doesn’t work for you, you could try applying tomato paste to the tarnished area. Just like the ketchup hack above, the acid in the tomato should cut through tough stains. After you let the paste sit for at least 15 minutes, wash it off with warm tap water and dry with a microfiber towel.
Could You Prevent Copper Oxidation?
After you’ve cleared away oxidized marks on your copper bowl, you may want to consider adding a layer of oil to prevent further oxidation. For instance, some home chefs recommend applying a thin coating of either mineral oil or baby oil after your clean copper bowl is dry. This DIY finish will significantly slow down the rate of oxidation.
You could also research natural copper protectants made with natural materials like beeswax. Simply use this sealant as directed by the manufacturer to preserve your copper bowl’s luster.
How Do You Clean Copper Without Removing Patina?
As mentioned above, some people prefer a pinch of patina on their copper bowls. Not only does leaving patina cut down on polishing time, it also adds an “antique allure” to your bowl’s finish.
To preserve your hard-won patina, you have to be extra careful about placing acidic compounds in your bowl. As you’ve seen above, foods like lemons and tomatoes cause chemical reactions that instantly erode stains. It’s incredibly tricky to control a patina’s outcome, especially if you place items like vinegar and tomatoes into your bowl.
To clean your copper bowl while maintaining a patina, you should use the gentlest methods possible. Indeed, you should only use warm water and mild dishwashing detergent when cleaning your copper bowl. Never use harsh chemical cleansers.
Clean Copper With Confidence!
Copper bowls add a warm, antique charm to your home, but they can be a bit of a chore to clean. Thankfully, if you follow the tips listed above, you shouldn’t have difficulty maintaining your copper bowl for years.
By the way, please don’t forget to check out Kitchen Seer’s post on How To Clean Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls to see how they differ from copper products.