How to Clean Copper-Bottom Pans


Copper-clad cookware has a beautiful luster when it's brand new, but using the pans can quickly cause oxidation that dulls the shine. Commercial cleaners and polishes are available, but check the label before using to ensure the product is safe for copper. If you prefer non-toxic green cleaning methods, use inexpensive pantry supplies. For general care, wash the pans in hot, soapy water and clean the copper surface after each use. Avoid abrasive cleansers and metal scouring pads, which can permanently damage the copper.

How to Clean Copper-Bottom Pans
(E. Sanders/Demand Media)

Cut a lemon in half; sprinkle some salt on the cut surface; then rub it over the copper surface to make tarnish and discoloration disappear. Alternatively, use lemon juice or vinegar and salt. Wet the pan with vinegar; sprinkle on some salt and scrub with a soft cloth. For tough, burned-on residue, soak the copper area in a large pot of boiling water with baking soda added. Remove the pan every few minutes and scrub the residue with a nylon scrubber or old toothbrush. The residue weakens gradually and usually comes off with repeated soaking and scrubbing. Start with a box of baking soda per gallon of water, adding more baking soda if the residue doesn’t budge.

E. Sanders/Demand Media

Commercial copper cleansers are made in powder, thick liquid or paste form. To use, wet a clean, soft cloth and put some cleaner on it. Wet the copper surface and apply the cleaner by rubbing the cloth gently over the surface. A chemical reaction removes the oxidation, so allow the cleaner to sit for a few seconds on tough spots; then check to see if the oxidation is gone. Rinse the pan and repeat the process until the copper is clean. Buff the pan with a clean, dry cloth to polish the copper and prevent water spots.

E. Sanders/Demand Media

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