How to Clean Copper Pans (And Polish Them!)

By Heloise Blause Updated August 17, 2021

Keep your copper pans looking good for years to come

How to Clean Copper Pans (And Polish Them!)

If you’re a copper pan owner you know the pain of having tarnished pans. A favorite choice for home chefs, copper cookware is long-lasting and corrosion-resistant. But it can be delicate to clean and a pain to maintain over time.

But don’t stress! With the right methods and tools, you can easily maintain a clean copper pan without any scrubbing. So you can get the most out of your copper with no fuss and no rust.

We’ll show you the best way to clean and polish your copper cookware to make sure it lasts a long lifetime.

How To Clean a Copper Pan With Baking Soda and Lemon

  • Mix lemon juice with baking soda and combine to create a cleaning paste.

  • Rub the solution onto the inner surface of the pan in a circular motion to remove tarnishing.

  • Rinse the inside of the pan with water.

  • Repeat the process if there are still tarnishes or stubborn stains.

  • Dry well with a clean cloth.

Why Do Copper Pans Need Special Care?

Copper Cookware needs special care for several reasons.

First, copper pans are lined to prevent copper from leaking into your food. Over time, acidic foods or scrubbing the pan can damage this lining. So if not used properly, the lining can dissolve and can cause the metal to leak into food and become toxic (1). So it’s important to take proper care of your copper pans to avoid this.

Second, copper pans lined with tin can be susceptible to melting at high temperatures (425°F or higher). So you have to reline the pan to avoid any metal leaking from the pan and risking copper poisoning.

And even if copper poisoning is rare, you should always take the safest precautions when cooking with copper cookware. So make sure you wash, dry and polish by hand and avoid using any rough scourers or steel wool. Secondly, avoid scrubbing your pan with any force that could scratch the coating.

Copper can also be sensitive when in contact with moisture, air, and heat. The chemical reaction between copper and oxygen can cause oxidation or tarnish (known as “patina” or “verdigris”) which can be poisonous if ingested (2). Also, it can affect the conductivity of copper.

Finally, it’s important not to overheat the pan during the soldering process. Because excess heat can produce copper oxide, so the solder won’t adhere to it.

How To Clean My Copper Pan?

How To Clean Copper Pans

These cleaning methods are simple and will protect your copper pans over time.

Clean All Types of Copper Pans

This daily cleaning process is simple and easy to do after each use.

All copper pans need cleaning after each cooking session because copper can tarnish and develop verdigris (3). In addition, if your pan is lined with tin it can oxidize if you don’t clean it properly. And copper pans lined with stainless steel can get sticky after use.

What You Need


1. Wait For Pan To Cool

Don’t start cleaning your pan until it is entirely cool.

2. Wash With Soapy Water

Fill the pan with warm soapy water. Use a soft sponge or cleaning pad to clean the burnt food residue from the sides and bottom of the pan.

3. Rinse

After all of the food residue is removed, give it a good rinse in clean water.

4. Dry Thoroughly

Use a soft cloth to dry your pan.

5. Let It Soak

For more stubborn burnt food residue, let the pan soak in the soapy water for a while to release the residue.

6. Scrub

Use a soft spatula to scrub the softened residue from the pan.

1. Rinse

Once all of the residue is removed and the pan is clean, rinse in clean water and dry.

Clean Copper Pans With Tin Lining

You can use this cleaning method for copper pans with tin lining. It’s a simple and efficient process for removing dirt, burnt food, baked-on food, or grease.

What You Need


1. Add Water

Fill your pan with water.

2. Put Aluminum Foil In Pan

Place a folded piece of aluminum foil into the water in the pan.

3. Add Baking Soda

Sprinkle 1 tsp of baking soda into the water and mix.

4. Boil

Place the pan on a stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

5. Let Soak

Turn off the heat and let the mixture soak for a few minutes. The mixture of boiling water and baking soda will pull off the oxidation and food residue in the pan. The oxidation and residue will attach to the foil while soaking.

6. Rinse And Dry

Empty the water out of the pan and remove the foil. Now that the pan is sparkling clean, give it a good rinse in clean water. Dry with a soft cloth.

For full instructions on clean copper with tin lining using baking soda and aluminum foil, take a look at this video.

How To Polish Copper Pots And Pans?

If your copper pan is unlined, polishing is important to make sure no metal is coming into contact with your food. This can be toxic, so polishing to remove verdigris is essential.

For lined copper pans, the outside of the pans can tarnish. But polishing your pans can keep it looking pristine and give it a warm copper glow (4).

Here are several tested methods for polishing the bottom of your copper pans. You can also use them to clean the inside of your pans if they’re unlined.

Baking Soda And Lemon

Using lemon juice and baking soda is the easiest and most commonly used method to polish and clean copper naturally. The citric acid from the lemon juice cleans the copper and the baking soda gives it a shine.

What You Need


1. Make a Paste

Mix the lemon juice with baking soda and combine to create a paste.

2. Scrub

Rub the paste onto the inner surface of the pan using a circular motion to clean the marks. Continue rubbing to remove all tarnishing.

3. Rinse

Rinse the inside of the pan with clean water, then dry well with a clean towel.

Take a look at this video for more instructions for using lemon and baking soda to polish your copper cookware.

Lemon And Salt

Using fresh lemon and table salt is another easy way to clean and polish your copper cookware. Tarnished copper will look brand new with this method.

What You Need


1. Cut Your Lemon

Slice lemon in half.

2. Add Salt

Pour salt onto the lemon half. Make sure to add a thick layer of salt.

3. Rub

Rub the lemon and salt around the base of the pan in circular motions. Make sure to rub the lemon over the entire surface of the pan to remove all marks and discoloration. You’ll notice the original color of the pan starts to return as the marks come off.

4. Rinse

Give your pan a good rinse after rubbing.

Watch this video to find out more about using lemon and table salt on your copper cookware.

Vinegar And Salt

Using vinegar and salt is an eco-friendly method that’s easy to do. You can also find everything you need in your kitchen.

What You Need


1. Pour Salt On Pan

Pour a thin layer of salt onto the base of the pan, or the area that you want to clean.

2. Let It Sit

Let the salt sit for 15-30 seconds.

3. Add Vinegar

Spray white vinegar evenly on top of the layer of salt. Make sure to spray all of the salt.

4. Add More Salt

Pour another layer of salt on top of the vinegar and then let it sit for about five minutes.

5. Scrub

Using your non-abrasive sponge, gently scrub the salt and vinegar mixture. Continue scrubbing until the marks are gone.

6. Rinse

Rinse the pan with clean water and dry carefully with a clean towel.

Onion And Salt

This is an old method used for cleaning and polishing tarnished copper pans. It’s eco-friendly and easy to do. And just like the previous method, you’ll find everything you need around your kitchen.

What You Need


1. Cut Your Onion

Slice onion in half.

2. Dip Into Salt

Pour a layer of salt onto a dish and rub your onion half in the salt.

3. Scrub

Use the onion covered with salt to scrub the pan. Rub the onion in circular motions to remove marks.

4. Repeat

Repeat these steps until the pan is clean and shiny.

5. Wipe

Wipe clean with a dry dish towel or paper towel.

6. Rinse

Rinse your pan with clean water.

Commercial Cleaners

Many manufacturers recommend using commercial cleaners to clean your pans. But some brands specifically recommend using Copperbrill, which is a special product designed for copper.

However, this method works with most commercial cleaners such as Silver Stone or Elbow Grease. And you can also use it to clean the inside of your pans.

What You Need


1. Add Water

Pour a little bit of water over the pan, just enough to wet the pan.

2. Add Cleaner

Sprinkle the cleaning powder onto the pan.

3. Scrub

Use your sponge or scrubber to scrub the whole surface of the pan. You can add more cleaner to the sponge if needed. You may need to use a bit of elbow grease to get it clean. But be careful not to apply too much pressure to the pan.

4. Rinse

Once you’ve cleaned and removed all of the tarnishings, give your pan a rinse in clean water.

5. Dry

Use a clean towel or paper towel to dry your pot or pan thoroughly.

For instructions on using a commercial cleaner for your copper cookware, take a look at this video.


Commercial cleaners can have harsh chemicals. So make sure you wear gloves when cleaning your pans. Also, make sure to only use them in well-ventilated areas. Rinse your pans thoroughly after using a commercial cleaner to make sure you remove all of the product.


Ketchup is another kitchen ingredient you can use to clean and polish your copper pans. And it’s an easy method that doesn’t require any scrubbing of your copper pan.

You can add flour to the ketchup to make a paste-like mixture. Also, you can use tomato paste to achieve the same results if you don’t have any ketchup in the kitchen.

What You Need


1. Add Ketchup

Squirt a layer of ketchup over the entire surface of your pot or pan.

2. Let It Sit

Let the ketchup sit on the pan for up to 30 minutes. It’s important to note that the longer you leave it the better your results will be. So pans with tough marks and tarnishing will need longer.

3. Wipe Clean

Use your sponge to remove the ketchup from the pan.

4. Rinse And Dry

Rinse your pan clean with water. Make sure you don’t forget to dry it!

To have a look at this method, check out this video.


Mauviel recommends using cola to get rid of and prevent oxidation. So if your pan has a lot of oxidation, this is the method for you.

What You Need


1. Soak

Soak your copper pot or pan in cola.

2. Scrub

Scrub your pot or pan with a clean, impregnated cloth.

3. Rinse

Use warm water to rinse your pot or pan and dry with a clean cloth.

Maintenance & Caring Tips

With the right care, your copper pans will stay shiny for years. Careful treatment and proper cleaning are important to help your cookware last for years.

Follow these tips to help your copper cookware last longer.

  • Don’t place your copper cookware in the dishwasher. Copper cookware is not dishwasher safe because the harsh chemicals can damage the copper.
  • We recommend only using soft utensils such as wood or plastic on your copper pans. Because metal utensils will wear away the lining and can cause scratching.
  • Don’t use any cleaning products containing bleach on your pans. Because bleach is corrosive, it can cause your copper cookware to pit.
  • Because copper heats quickly and evenly, keep your heat low and blend your flavors during cooking.
  • If your copper cookware has a tin lining, make sure you have liquid in the pan before you add any heat. Because with low heat resistance, tin can bubble and melt if exposed directly to heat.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on the state of your tin lining as it will wear with use. So if you see copper inside of the pan you’ll need to re-tin it.
  • Remove rust on the handles by rubbing with a fine gauge steel wool. Rust can appear if the handles are not thoroughly dried after washing. Occasionally apply vegetable or olive oil to the handles to prevent rust.

Does My Copper Pan Need To Be Restored?

If your pan is damaged due to oxidation or cracked lining it needs to be restored.

Scratching and holes in the tin lining can indicate that your pan needs to be re-lined. So if you notice significant scratches or medium-sized holes from wear in the lining, you’ll need to restore it.

Restoring your copper pan can be a delicate process. So we recommend seeking a professional coppersmith for tinning, patching, or refurbishing your copper pan.

But if you want to do it yourself, make sure you have the proper tools available. Also, make sure you know the correct thickness of the copper layer on the outside of your pan.

You can take a look at this video to find out more about re-tinning your pans.

Time To Polish!

Copper cookware is a favorite choice for professionals and home chefs. Since copper pots and pans have many benefits. And how you take care of them matters.

A clean copper pan makes all the difference. So follow our maintenance tips and cleaning methods to make sure your cookware lasts.

With the right methods and tools, you can bring your stained or discolored copper pan back to life. For instance, use baking soda, lemon and salt, or any of the other easy and effective solutions we’ve mentioned.

Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for cleaning copper pots and pans! Or tell us which method is your favorite. And if you enjoyed these methods, share this article with a friend!

Heloise Blause

About the Author

Heloise Blause

Since always, I am passionate about food; I enjoy writing and want to share my passion and offer quality articles to my readers. On Homekitchenland, I like to research, review, and compare kitchen appliances, write product reviews, and develop recipes.

Related Reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *