Make Your Copper Last a Lifetime
What Copper Cleaning Supplies You Need
- – Gentle dish soap
- – Soft sponge
- – Warm water
- – Water-absorbent cloths (cotton, hemp, or another soft fabric)
How to (Safely) Clean Copper Mugs
- Start by rinsing the copper in warm water.
- Take the sponge and dish soap, and gently scrub until any debris has been removed.
- Rinse again to remove the soap residue.
- Dry the copper thoroughly with your first towel and set aside to air-dry.
- Take the second towel and dry the copper once again, ensuring that there is no leftover moisture in cracks or crevices.
When caring for your in-home copper drinkware (or any copper, for that matter), a few simple steps taken shortly after use can help your copper last a lifetime. While glass drinkware can withstand soaps, detergents, heat and more, copper is far more sensitive and requires caution when cleaning.
How to Hand Wash Copper
When washing copper by hand, it’s first important to gather the right supplies – and avoid the wrong ones. The process isn’t complex, and many of these supplies can be found in your home. We recommend cleaning your copper with gentle dishwashing soap and warm water, being sure to hand dry using a soft cloth.
Textured or synthetic cloths like polyester may scratch the surface of your copper. Barware best-practice recommends double-drying your copper such that any leftover moisture is accounted for in a means to prevent oxidation. Simply dry your clean copper a second time using a fresh cloth.
Few barware pieces shine as brightly as a set of copper mugs. Their chromatic aesthetic is alluring to the eye, adding a luxury appeal to your countertop or bar cart alike. Add a bit of vodka, ginger beer and lime, and the vessel is simply irresistible.
Copper, being in the metal family, is prone to weathering and wear. When exposed to the elements, copper is known to rust, tarnish and degrade. Fortunately, the copper pieces in your home are less susceptible to environmental concerns, and a quick, post-Moscow Mule cleaning routine will keep your copper barware glistening for decades to come.
Copper and many other metals are extremely prone to tarnishing. Tarnishing describes a chemical reaction that takes place on the surface of copper when exposed to oxygen. Like a piece of fruit, the copper reacts to oxygen in the air, producing a compound known as copper oxide. When left untreated, the copper oxide will continue to develop and lead to corrosion.
Other factors that lead to tarnishing include heat, chemicals, human touch, moisture and dust. Tarnishing can be dangerous for many reasons – especially with copper mugs, flatware and utensils, as they can cause poisoning when ingested.
Signs that your copper is tarnishing include:
- – Discoloration of the copper (typically with a blue or green hue)
- – Grey or black film on the surface of the copper
- – Water spots that are difficult to remove
Fortunately, caring for your copper pieces is simple with a few hassle-free maintenance solutions that keep your copper clean for day to day use and address any onset tarnishing or wear.
Frequently Asked Cleaning Questions
Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe?
The short answer is no. Copper mugs are not dishwasher safe, in most cases. Dishwashers use harsh chemicals and high temperature water, which can cause tarnishing and other damage. They can also disintegrate the lacquer lining present in most commercial-grade copper mugs, which can end up in guests’ drinks down the road and pose a health hazard.
This is not a risk involved when using unlined mugs, but without lining, the copper is even more prone to tarnishing – it’s a double-edged sword.
Our advice? Stick to hand washing.
How to Remove Tarnish From Copper Mugs
Copper mugs require minimal upkeep to maintain their quality and shine, but tarnishing may still occur over time due to the copper’s reaction with oxygen in the air. Luckily, there are several methods for removing even the most stubborn tarnish from your copper mugs.
#1 Metal Cleaner
The most reliable method for removing tarnish from copper (or other metals) is metal cleaner. The metal cleaner is a powerful, concentrated compound that easily breaks down tarnish. It’s safe to use on metals, including sterling silver, brass and stainless steel. You can find metal cleaner at your local hardware store.
For a last-minute copper tune-up, there are several DIY methods for removing tarnish. All you’ll need are a few household ingredients.
#2 Lemon & Salt
- Fill a small bowl with several tablespoons of salt.
- Quarter a lemon.
- Grabbing the rind, dip the lemon into the bowl of salt, covering each surface completely.
- While still holding the lemon, gently scrub it into the mug using circular motions.
- Once the tarnish is removed, stop scrubbing and wash and dry the mug, following the steps listed above.
#3 Vinegar & Baking Soda
- Combine 3 parts baking soda with one part vinegar to form a paste.
- Using a soft sponge, apply the paste to the mug, covering its entire surface.
- Leave the mug covered in paste for 5-10 minutes.
- To remove, gently scrub the paste off in circular motions using the sponge and warm water.
- Complete the hand washing and drying steps listed above.
Copper mugs can last a lifetime with proper cleaning and care. Even the oldest, most tarnished mugs can be saved with a few maintenance hacks, but it’s never a bad idea to start fresh with a new set of copper mugs.