A copper object can be very beautiful, especially if polished to a high shine. Fortunately, copper can be cleaned with a variety of household tools. This article describes several methods for cleaning copper that you can immediately use by grabbing something that is very likely already hidden in your closet. In addition, it also mentions a method of dry cleaning copper in case other methods are unsuccessful.
Getting started and removing damaged paintwork
Step 1. Determine if your item is solid copper
If the item is only copper-plated, you risk damaging it. To clean such an item, simply use warm water with a mild detergent and a soft cloth.
The easiest way to determine if an object is copper is by applying a magnet to it. If it is magnetised, then the object is made of a different metal and is simply covered with copper. If the magnet does not cling to the object, then it is made of solid copper
Step 2. Check if the item is lacquered
Varnish can give copper extra shine and protect it from oxidation. However, if the varnish is damaged, the object may begin to oxidize unevenly. Some of the methods mentioned in the article can damage the varnish.
- If your item was lacquered but damaged, you will need to remove it completely first. After cleaning the item, you can cover it with a new coat of varnish. For more information on removing old varnish, see below.
- If your lacquered copper object gets dirty, mix 2 cups (480 ml) warm water and 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Spray the mixture onto the varnished item and let sit for a few minutes. Wipe off any remaining solution with a clean cloth, then rinse the item with warm water. Wipe it dry again with a soft cloth.
Step 3. Pour water into a pot and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda for each liter
The pot should be large enough to completely submerge the copper object. If your item is too large, then you will have to process it in stages.
Step 4. Place the item in the pot
If the item you are cleaning is too large, then you will have to process it in parts. Dip the item into the water; later you will need to repeat these steps to process other parts of the object (sticking out of the water).
Step 5. Bring water to a boil and boil the item for 30 minutes
If you are working with a large object, then boil one of its sides first. After 30 minutes, turn the item over and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Watch the water level. The water will gradually boil away. If any part of the object starts to come out of the water, add water to the pot
Step 6. Take an item and rub it with the hard side of a dishwashing sponge
Hot water will soften the varnish. A coarse sponge will allow you to remove it completely. Do not use a metal washcloth for this, otherwise you will scratch the copper.
Step 7. Remove the item from the water and dry with a soft towel
The item will be very hot, so you may need tongs to pull it out of the water.
Step 8. Use any of the methods below to remove oxidized stains from copper
However, when cleaning jewelry, you may need to ensure that cleaning pastes and solutions do not come into contact with gems and crystals. Many of the pastes and solutions mentioned in the article are abrasive. They effectively remove oxidation traces, but can leave scratches on stones and crystals.
Method 1 of 5: Applying a salt-based cleaning paste
Step 1. Add a few tablespoons of salt to a bowl
The salt will help wipe away any traces of oxidation. The size of the bowl you choose doesn't matter, you just make the cleaning paste in it.
Step 2. Add white wine vinegar or lemon juice to the salt until a damp paste forms
Lemon juice is more acidic, so it works faster than vinegar.
Alternatively, you can cut the lemon in half and sprinkle generously with salt. Then you can simply rub the copper object with salted lemon
Step 3. Apply cleaning paste to the oxidized area of the item
It should be in a thick layer. If copper or oxidized spots are still visible through the paste, add a little more.
Step 4. Wait 15 seconds
This will be enough for the salt and vinegar / lemon juice to penetrate the oxidation spots.
Step 5. Moisten a tough sponge with white wine vinegar / lemon juice
If the item you are cleaning has a bulky texture, you may find it more convenient to use a soft bristled toothbrush instead of a sponge. She will be able to more effectively clean all nooks and crannies and grooves.
If you used lemon juice in the previous step, then use it in this step as well
Step 6. Rub the object
Rub the object lightly in small circular motions right through the salt layer. The salt will help wipe away any traces of oxidation.
If you took a half of a lemon, then simply rub it on your item
Step 7. Rinse the copper piece with warm water
If there are still traces of oxidation stains on it, then you will need to rub your item again.
Step 8. Dry the item with a soft cloth and polish if necessary
Method 2 of 5: Applying a flour-based cleaning paste
Step 1. Pour 1 cup (240 ml) white wine vinegar into a bowl
The size of the bowl is not important. It is only needed for making pasta. You do not need to immerse a copper object in it.
Step 2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the vinegar
Stir until completely dissolved.
Step 3. Add enough flour to the solution to form a paste
Moreover, it should have the consistency of a sauce. If the paste is too thick, add a little more vinegar to it. If it gets too runny, continue adding flour.
Step 4. Apply the paste to the copper object
You can do it with your own hands or with a sponge. You can also dip the item in the paste. It should remain on the object in a thick layer.
Step 5. Gently rub the object with the paste
Using your fingers or a sponge, gently rub the object in small circular motions.
Step 6. Leave the paste on for 15-60 minutes
The more oxidized the item, the longer you will have to wait.
Step 7. Rinse the paste with warm water
When rinsing, be sure to rub the item with your fingers. This will help remove both the paste itself and the remnants of oxidation traces from it.
Step 8. Dry the item with a soft cloth
Run the cloth over the entire surface of the item in small circular motions. This will help polish the copper and make it shine.
Method 3 of 5: Boil in vinegar and salt
Step 1. Be aware that this method can ruin your pot and lighten the copper
The salt and wine vinegar will react chemically, which can ruin the pot used to boil the item. Also, the copper item you clean can become silver as a result.
Step 2. Pour 1 cup (240 ml) white wine vinegar into a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of salt
The pot should be large enough to hold your copper object. Stir the salt until it is completely dissolved in the vinegar.
You can also use an electric pressure cooker with a glass or ceramic bowl
Step 3. Place the brass object in the pot
Don't worry if it's not completely submerged in the vinegar. Fill the rest of the pot with water.
Step 4. Add water to the pot
The item should now be completely submerged in the liquid. If it is too large, then you will have to first clean the part that turns out to be soaked, and then repeat the cleaning procedure with the other part.
Step 5. Bring the solution to a boil
Continue to boil the item until all traces of oxidation have disappeared. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
Step 6. Regularly check the condition of the item and, if necessary, add water to the pot
Over time, the liquid in the pan will begin to boil, then the object may be exposed, in which case you will need to add water to the pan. Alternatively, you can remove the item from the water and rub it with a soft bristled brush.
Step 7. Remove the item from the water and let it cool
To do this, use a rubber glove, potholder or tongs so as not to burn yourself. Place the item on a heat-resistant surface to cool down. This may take a few minutes.
Step 8. Wash the item in warm water and soap and then wipe dry with a soft cloth
This will remove any residual salt residue.
Method 4 of 5: Applying ketchup
Step 1. Find some ketchup
Believe it or not, ketchup is a great copper cleaner. However, this method is not very neat, so it works better for small copper objects. If you are going to clean a larger object, such as a saucepan, then consider using vinegar and salt.
Step 2. Brush the item with ketchup
You can squeeze the ketchup directly onto the item and spread it with your fingers. You can also squeeze the ketchup onto a folded paper towel and use it to lubricate the item. The ketchup should be in a thin or slightly thicker layer.
Step 3. Leave the ketchup for a few minutes
This will give enough time for the acid in the ketchup to dissolve the oxidation traces.
Step 4. Rub the oxidized areas with a sponge or soft cloth
If you use a sponge, use the soft side, not the rough one. Rub the object in small circular motions. This will wipe away oxidation stains.
Step 5. Rinse the ketchup off the item with warm water
Ketchup is not easy to rinse off, so you may need to rub the item with your fingers to wash it off.
Step 6. Wipe the item dry with a soft cloth and buff to a shine
Squeeze a small section of the cloth in your hand and begin rubbing the object in quick, small circular motions. This will help the brass object to shine again.
Method 5 of 5: Applying Sulfamic Acid to Highly Oxidized Copper Objects
Step 1. Get sulfamic acid
Do not use this method if the item is not pure copper. Sulfamic acid removes oxidation from copper, but can oxidize other metals.
You can purchase sulfamic acid through online chemical stores. You can also try looking for it in household goods stores
Step 2. Put on rubber gloves
You will be working with acid, so it is important to follow safety precautions and use protective equipment.
Step 3. Consider the opportunity to work outdoors
Like most chemicals, sulfamic acid gives off fumes. Therefore, it will be nice to work with her outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. If you do not have the opportunity to go outside, then be sure to open a window in the room.
Step 4. Mix sulfamic acid with water in a sturdy plastic container
The acid container may already contain dosage recommendations. In most cases, a weak aqueous solution is prepared that contains only 5-10% acid.
Step 5. Dip the copper object into the solution
You may notice that the solution starts to boil.
Step 6. When the solution stops bubbling, remove the copper object from the solution
Carefully remove the object from the solution using forceps.
Step 7. Consider neutralizing the acid with soda ash
Prepare another solution of water and 1-2% soda ash. Dip the copper object into the soda ash solution and then remove. Soda ash will neutralize acid and prevent copper erosion.
Soda ash is usually available from the household chemicals department in most supermarkets
Step 8. Leave the copper to dry in a cool place
As a result of the cleaning carried out, it will become noticeably brighter.
- You can purchase special copper polishes.
- Dust off decorative copper items regularly to prevent dirt from accumulating on them. Use a cloth dampened with cold water to wipe clean.
- Consider polishing the copper with a crumpled piece of newspaper. Simply rub it over the object in a circular motion until it shines.
- Store copper jewelry in plastic bags when temporarily not wearing it. This will slow down oxidative processes and help keep the jewelry shine for a longer time.
- If you have a decorative copper item that is not used for cooking, consider varnishing it. This will prevent oxidation from darkening the item.
- Do not store varnished items near the stove or in the bathroom. Steam, moisture and temperature can penetrate the varnish layer and oxidize the copper underneath.
- Never use abrasive cleaners on varnished or copper-plated objects. They can damage the lacquer or copper coating. Use liquid soap and warm water instead.