Even the best copper cookware can require more maintenance compared to stainless steel or even Teflon cookware. But if you learn how to clean copper pots the right way, you can easily keep your pots and pans looking brand new for years to come.
How to clean copper pots depends on what type of cleanup you’re dealing with and the current condition of the cookware.
Basic care consists of:
- Submerging the cookware in warm soapy water
- Allowing the cookware to soak for ten to fifteen minutes
- Wiping down the interior with a soft sponge
- Rinsing in warm water
- Drying with a lint-free towel immediately after.
If your cookware has a lot of patina or stuck on food, you will need to:
- Boil a large stock pot of water
- Submerge cookware in the pot or dump the boiling water in the sink
- Allow the cookware to soak for one hour, changing out the hot water every fifteen minutes
- Wipe down with hot soapy water
- Dry immediately
If you properly care for your pots and pans after each use, cleaning your cookware should be a breeze. But if you don’t stay on top of copper cookware care, you’ll need to use plenty of elbow grease to restore the cookware back to its former glory.
Most copper cookware sets these days are lined with stainless steel, however, there still are sets, such as the Concord 8 piece copper cookware set, that are lined with ceramic. How you clean your cookware can depend on the interior lining. Tin is another type of common lining that you’ll find in higher-end cookware sets, however, because it can easily get scratched if you use the wrong type of cooking utensils or scrubbers, you need to use extra care when cleaning tin-lined cookware.
So, play it safe and avoid using harsh scrubbing pads. Instead, wash the cookware with a soft sponge.
Use a gentle dish detergent, such as Dawn, and hot water. If food is stuck to the surface, soak the pots and pans in the hot soapy water for twenty minutes. Soaking the cookware will help soften up the burnt on food.
If you want to prevent spotting or a blotchy appearance, avoid allowing the cookware to air dry. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to carefully dry all of the cookware promptly after washing.
When Your Copper Cookware Needs More TLC
If you’re struggling to get your pots and pans to shine again, there are plenty of alternative cleaning and polishing methods you can try that can help to restore your cookware to its former glory. Below we’ll cover methods for deep cleans, natural copper polishes, and what you can do to remove the patina.
Vinegar and Salt
It makes sense to use apple cider vinegar to clean copper cookware since acid is the main chemical used to clean copper. To use, combine table salt and vinegar for a moderately abrasive, all-natural powerful cleaner. Start off by adding three tablespoons of salt and one cup of vinegar into a spray bottle. Shake up the bottle until the salt dissolves. Next, spray the cookware and allow it to sit for fifteen minutes. Last of all, use a sponge to scrub down the surface of the pots and pans before rinsing in warm water. Towel dry immediately after.
Do You Have to Polish Copper Pots and Pans?
Over time, copper will naturally tarnish. Polishing it once a month can help to keep your cookware shining and looking new. You can use a commercial polish specifically designed for copper cookware, or you can make your own polish using lemon juice and salt, vinegar and salt, or baking soda and lemon juice.
To use baking soda and lemon juice to polish the surface of your cookware you will need a quarter cup of lemon juice and half a tablespoon of baking soda. Mix the lemon juice and baking soda thoroughly, until it forms a paste. Apply the mixture to the surface of the cookware, using a soft cloth to buff the surface. Rinse with hot water and towel dry.
Many DIYers swear straight lemon juice can really bring out the shine in copper. If you want to use straight lemon juice simply cut a lemon in half. Grab a half of a lemon and rub it on the surface of the cookware. For more polishing power, add salt to the surface of the lemon before you start rubbing down the cookware. Next, rinse and towel dry.
You can also create a paste using vinegar and baking soda. Pour half a cup of apple cider vinegar and half a tablespoon of baking soda into a large bowl. Mix until it forms a thick paste. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the cookware with this mixture, then use another cloth to buff out the surface of the cookware. Rinse in warm water and towel dry.
How to Remove Patina
If you slack off on copper cookware upkeep, patina will develop. Some cooks love the look of this discoloration, which many feel can give the cookware a rustic, unique look. While others prefer the soft sheen of highly polished copper. If you’re one of the latter, then you can use the following steps to remove built up patina in a matter of minutes.
First, fill up a large stock pot with water and add one tablespoon of salt and one cup of white vinegar. If possible, submerge the cookware in the pot and boil for one hour. If the cookware in question is too big to fit in the stock pot, then fill up the sink with boiling water, then submerge the cookware. Change out the water with boiling water every fifteen minutes for one hour. The salt and vinegar will form an acid that will eat away at the patina. Remove the cookware from the pot or sink and allow it to cool. Rinse with warm soapy water and dry immediately. If you’re dealing with cookware that has several years’ worth of patina, you may need to repeat the boiling process several times in order to see a major difference.
If the cookware still looks dull you can use one of our DIY copper polishes or a commercial polish to restore the cookware’s sheen.
Copper Cookware Dos and Don’ts
- Never use a tough detergent that contains bleach.
- Avoid abrasive products
- Never put copper cookware in a dishwasher, even if it’s advertised as dishwasher safe.
- If you notice any damage to the lining in your cookware, stop using it. Damage to the interior lining is common with tin lined pots and pans.
- Avoid heating up an empty pot or pan. A faster than average heat up time is just one of the many copper cookware benefits. Since the pots and pans heat up so quickly, if the cookware is heated up without food or a fat you will risk degrading the lining over time.
How to Clean a Burnt Copper Bottom Pan
Fill your sink up with boiling water, vinegar, and salt. Allow the pan to soak for one to two hours. Avoid using an abrasive cleaner or scrubbing pad.
Once the burnt on food has softened, use a sponge to carefully wipe down the interior and exterior.
How to Clean Old Copper Pots
If it’s been years since you polished your cookware, you’ll want to start off by boiling water with vinegar and salt and allowing the cookware to soak for several hours. During this time you must frequently change out the water, focusing on keeping the cookware soaking in the hottest water possible. You can use our DIY cleaning methods including making your own baking soda paste to buff the exterior of the cookware, or you may need to purchase a commercial copper pot cleaner if you’re dealing with serious patina build-up.
How to Clean Copper Chefs Pan Inside
For tin lined cookware you must take extra care when you’re scrubbing out the interior, in order to avoid scratching the lining’s surface. But if the cookware is lined with stainless steel and you’re dealing with stuck on food, you can carefully scrub out the inside of the pan with an abrasive scrubbing pad. Avoid cleaning the pan’s exterior with the same abrasive scrubbing pad.
How to clean copper pots can be as simple as soaking the cookware in hot soapy water for ten to fifteen minutes, or it can involve soaking the cookware in boiling hot water, salt, and vinegar, for several hours. Ultimately, the method you choose should be based on the condition of the cookware. Obviously, cases in which you’re dealing with burnt on food or severe patina will involve a more lengthy cleaning process.
But in the end, with proper care and maintenance, which includes regularly polishing the cookware, your copper cookware can last for several years, while maintaining the golden sheen that copper is known for.