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Before and after from removing tarnish from copper canisters.

How To Remove Tarnish from Copper

In only 5 minutes, you can get your copper items shiny again with our tips on how to clean copper home décor like a copper sink or copper-bottom pots and pans.
Keyword clean copper, remove copper tarnish
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6 cups
Author Rachel
Cost $2


  • Soft Cloth


  • 1 cup Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Table Salt
  • 5 cups Water distilled is preferred


  • Add the ingredients in a large pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Wipe any dirt or grime off of the copper piece.
  • Place the tarnished copper in the boiling water with tongs. As the copper oxide is removed, turn the piece to a new spot. You can also ladle the water bath over the piece for hard to reach areas. If needed, use a soft toothbrush to get into crevices to remove grime.
    Removing tarnish from copper with half done copper pot over boiling pan.
  • Once all the tarnish is removed, make sure to clean the copper piece thoroughly with warm water. Vinegar and salt can speed up the collection of tarnish.
    Two cannisters showing the before and after cleaning copper to remove tarnish.


How to Prevent Copper from Tarnishing
  • You can apply a lacquer coating that will seal out water and oxygen. Make sure to do several even, thin coats so it is completely coated well. This won't work on items exposed to heat like pots and pans or copper sinks.
  • You can apply a thin coat of oil to slow the process. Some commonly used oils for preventing tarnish are linseed oil, baby oil, mineral oil, and beeswax. A high quality car wax can also be applied for items that are strictly for display. If you are coating something that you handle often use to cook or store food, be sure to use an oil that is safe for consumption.