Cleaning & Care Tips

Copper: How to Clean it Chemical Free

January 9, 2017

Copper has made a comeback since its hay day of popularity in the 1970s. Do you remember Coppercraft Guild? Whether it’s vintage copper or brand new pieces, we’re seeing it in today’s decor, back on tables and in many popular stores. It’s even been coined the metal du jour in Style At Home’s recent Special 2017 Trends Issue.

A Local Distillery Does It Up Right

This photo was taken back in Spring 2016 at Victoria Distillers opening of their new Sidney, Vancouver Island, BC location. Notice the Mid Century inspired copper pendants? In the background you will also see Moscow Mule mugs, and on the table a hammered copper pitcher. We think they knew what they were doing!

Copper Moscow Mule Mugs

Hammered Copper Moscow Mule Mugs

We got up close and personal with another modern variation of the Moscow Mule mug, and liked it so much we brought a set home even though they’re not vintage. Is that bad?

Moscow Mule mugs are not a new phenomenon, and are in fact part of the 1940s scene, but as you can see, they are trending big time today. Vintage MM mugs are generally made of solid copper whereas modern mugs are often nickel-lined like these, but that’s a whole other story! Look for Moscow Mule mugs in kitchen stores and yes, even Costco has carried these! If you are a purist, you can find vintage Moscow Mule mugs online.

The Sputnik Legacy Lives On

Mid Century inspired copper chandelier fashioned after the original Sputnik chandelier.

This is another of the Distillery’s Mid Century inspired lighting beauties fashioned after the super popular Sputnik chandelier. The Sputnik chandie was inspired by the Soviet Union’s satellite aptly named ‘Sputnik’, the first to orbit the earth back in 1957. Since its inception there has been no looking back, and that is evident with this modern copper accented version. Isn’t she lovely?

Is Vintage Copper Better With Age?

Copper Platter Set_One Round_One Oval

And then there’s these amazing vintage copper platters found on a low, dark shelf in a treasure hunting round a few years ago. They’ve been cleaned and polished once. I’m torn about the cleaning aspect, because aside from a few pit marks acquired along the way, IMHO it’s the rich patina that really makes these platters a showy display!

Copper: Let’s Clean It Chemical Free

And finally, the point of this article, how to clean copper chemical free. At Audrey Would! we believe in working with natural cleaning methods, but we’re not ones to judge. If you choose an off-the-shelf chemical based cleaner instead, that’s certainly up to you, and likely Brasso comes to mind. The method we use, however, happens to be Martha Stewart approved!

How to Clean Copperware Chemical Free

Ingredients you will need:

  • I fresh lemon (increase lemons depending on number/size of pieces being cleaned)
  • Table Salt (can also use coarse salt, Martha says!)
  • Rubber Gloves (protect yourself from grime and your skin from drying out)
  • Buffing Cloth (we swear by Jude’s Miracle Cloth)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Fill your sink with warm soapy water, and have a drying towel handy
  2. Slice lemon in half and generously sprinkle salt over sliced area
  3. With your gloves on begin rubbing salted lemon over copper surface
  4. Continue rubbing until tarnish begins to lift
  5. Once all tarnish is lifted rinse copper piece in sink of warm soapy water
  6. Rinse again under running water to remove any soapy residue
  7. Dry right away and dry thoroughly
  8. Use a buffing cloth for the final polish

Last step, enjoy your shiny copper piece! It’s that easy.

Two things to note:

  1. If your copper has a protective coating as Coppercraft Guild pieces do, you might want to clean with caution. Cleaning solutions, whether a natural mix or a chemical one, may lift the coating. Once this happens there’s no turning back. If your copper has a protective coating, sometimes just warm soapy water and a little elbow grease will do!
  2. If you are a Brasso user, it’s still a good idea to clean using the above method first (keeping the protective coating aspect in mind). Brasso will clean a tarnished piece, but will take longer than the above method as it is generally better for polishing copper than for cleaning it. If you are not a fan of cleaning and polishing, some people opt to coat their shiny copper in varnish to prevent tarnishing. This is not something we have tried, but who knows, there’s a first time for everything!

Have you hopped on the copper revival yet? How often do you clean your pieces and what’s your secret to success? We would love to hear from you!

Thank you for the visit!

Audrey Would Vintage Home blog



Photographs © Audrey Would! Vintage Home

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