Genius tricks the pros use to clean copper pans and keep them in tip-top condition

How to clean copper pans and make them look as good as new

A white kitchen with hanging copper pots
(Image credit: Future PLC/Sophie Gale)

Copper pans are arguably the most aesthetically pleasing and stylish cookware you can have in your kitchen. But to keep them looking as good as when you first bought them, you need to know how to clean copper pans properly and without damaging them. Because they're not just like any other pan.

It’s not just their aesthetics that make copper pans some of the best saucepans we’ve come across. And it’s no coincidence they are the go-to pans of many a chef as copper has better heat conductivity compared to other common cookware materials like stainless steel. 

So whether you have some copper pots in your collection that you want to bring back to their former glory or you’re looking to invest in some and need to know how to keep them in tip-top shade, this is what you need to do to clean copper pans.

Copper pans hanging on a kitchen wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

How to clean copper pans

Unlike the best way how to clean stainless steel pans, the copper cleaning method needs to be far more gentle as the material is less durable and more easily scratched.

‘Cookware made of stainless steel is generally easier to maintain and more durable than copper cookware,’ says Petya Holevich, Fantastic Services' house cleaning expert and supervisor. ‘Because of that, cookware made of copper will require more care and maintenance. However, its superior heat conductivity and distinctive aesthetic certainly make it a worthwhile investment for lots of people.’

So this is what you’ll need to have to hand and what you’ll need to do.

A stove with a copper pot on top

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

What you’ll need:

Hot soapy water and cloth method

Whatever you do, just avoid abrasive tools that could scratch the protective lacquered surface. Instead, opt for a soft cloth to clean your copper pots.

‘Lacquer protects copper from tarnishing but it shouldn't be scrubbed away. Because of that, you'll need to avoid using abrasive cleaners or tools when washing copper pans, such as steel wool scrubbers that could leave scratches or bleach.’ Petya warns. 

For everyday cleaning of pots that are not too dirty, a combination of hot water, washing up liquid and a soft cloth will suffice. ‘Simply use hot, soapy water and a soft cloth to wipe them well after rinsing,’ Petya says.

A kitchen with a gas stove and a copper pot on top

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

White vinegar and salt method

If your copper pan is a bit more stained or you want to employ a natural cleaning hack, then you can make your very own cleaning paste from a mix of distilled white vinegar and table salt.

‘You can mix one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and ¼ cup of table salt in a small bowl to make a paste to clean copper items,’ Petya explains. ‘Double the amount of the ingredients for the paste if the copper pan is large and use a sponge to apply the paste to the copper. After that, wait five minutes and buff it with a damp, soft cloth using circular motions.’


How do you make copper pans look new again?

‘Metals such as copper develop tarnish over time when they're exposed to oxygen, water, and air and moisture, dirt, oils and harsh chemicals can dull their appearance, causing them to become brownish,’ Petya explains. ‘Because of this, copper's surface can range from aqua green patina to dark amber patina. To fix this issue, use a microfibre cloth and a copper cleaner every six months to keep copper pots and pans from tarnishing.’

A white kitchen with hanging copper pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

What is the best homemade copper cleaner?

As previously mentioned, if you’re looking to make your own cleaning product to polish your copper pans with, then a mix of one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and ¼ cup of table salt is best. 

Once you make this into a paste, apply it with a sponge before removing with a damp, soft cloth after about five minutes.

Happy copper cleaning!

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.