How to Clean Copper and Brass

Cleaning Tips & Tricks

How to Clean Copper and Brass

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There’s a reason sailors refer to copper and brass as “brightwork” – it’s supposed to shine. Unfortunately, both metals can develop a pretty gross patina and can tarnish over time, due to chemical reactions between the surface of the metal and the surrounding air. Many metal-cleaning products, or tarnish removers, contain harsh chemicals that can damage human health. Thankfully, we’ve got a little trick that utilizes some pretty basic kitchen staples to clean your copper and brass items and keep them from looking like they went down with the ship.

What you’ll need:


  1. Place all your copper and brass in the bucket.
  2. Add a tablespoon of table salt.
  3. Add enough white vinegar to cover your metal.
  4. Give the bucket a light shake, and let your bucket stand for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove your metal and dry (inside and out) with a Bounty Paper Towels. Be sure to use Bounty– it’s strong enough to handle the job without tearing and will soak up any of the vinegar that likes to hide in small crevices.

Some other not-so-secret tricks:

  • Not only is Worcestershire sauce tough to spell, it’s really tough on tarnish as well. Try adding some to the vinegar and salt mixture stated above to put a little extra ka-pow in your fight against tarnish and grime.
  • If you can’t seem to get your copper pots and pans clean, sprinkle a generous amount of salt over a lemon wedge. Once you’ve done that, use the wedge as a sponge. It takes a little elbow grease, and sounds like a funny tip, but the results are nothing to laugh about.
  • If the salt isn’t getting the job done, reach for baking soda. The nontoxic minerals in it serve as an awesome natural alternative to harsh cleaners. For really tough jobs, sprinkle only the baking soda on your cloth and rub it all over your tarnished brass or copper. Once you’re blinded by the results, remember to rinse your copper or brass piece and wipe it dry with a Bounty paper towel.

Just try any of these methods and your brass and copper should be in ship-shape condition!