How to Clean Copper Pots and Pans


Copper cookware has long been the top choice of professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts. Copper conducts heat evenly, looks attractive in the kitchen and lasts for many years. Copper cookware requires regular maintenance to retain its cooking properties and shiny exterior. Any dark or discolored spots absorb more heat than the shiny areas, often causing food to stick, cook unevenly or burn. A regular cleaning routine should give you beautiful copper pots and pans that last a long time.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean cloth
  • Acetone or lacquer thinner
  • Dish soap
  • Non-abrasive scrubber or sponge
  • Commercial copper cleaner (optional)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Salt
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Clean new copper pots and pans before using them. Many manufacturers ship copper cookware with protective lacquer seals that can burn and permanently discolor your cookware. Dip a clean cloth into a small amount of lacquer thinner or acetone and lightly rub your cookware until the seal dissolves.

  • Soak copper pots and pans to remove stuck-on foods and grease. Fill the cookware with hot, soapy water until it covers all of the dirty areas. Let the pot soak overnight and then scrub it with a non-abrasive scrubber or sponge. Repeat this process until all of the stuck-on bits have come off.

  • Hand wash your copper cookware in warm, soapy water. Always use a soft material when cleaning copper cookware. Abrasive materials can scratch the lining in the cookware, which allows copper to leech into the foods you cook. Dry copper pots and pans immediately to avoid discolorations and water stains.

  • Clean the exterior of your copper cookware. Use a commercial copper cleaner if you like shiny cookware. If you prefer a more natural patina, simply sprinkle half of a lemon with salt and gently rub it over the surface of your cookware with a circular motion. Repeat this process until all scorch marks, grease and grime come off. Rinse your pots and pans with warm water and dry immediately. Buff the exterior with a clean, soft cloth.

  • Clean the handles of your copper cookware. Many copper pots and pans have cast iron handles that turn rusty. Scrub off any rust with steel wool and apply a thin coat of olive or vegetable oil to prevent future oxidation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store your copper pots and pans in a cool, low-humidity area to avoid oxidation and discoloration.
  • Use wooden or rubber utensils when cooking to avoid scratching the cookware.
  • Copper can interact with acidic foods and cause a chemical reaction harmful to your health.
  • Never wash copper cookware in your dishwasher. Dishwasher soaps often contain acidic chemicals that permanently tarnish copper.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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