Will Vinegar Clean Copper? – Learn How to Make Copper Shine Again

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Copper is a perfect addition to our household items, whether jewelry, a sink, or cookware. But over time, if copper is left on its own, it will develop discoloration and build up tarnish. So, how do you clean copper and restore it? Will Vinegar Clean Copper?

Yes, vinegar will clean copper. You don’t need abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals to do the job. What you need is probably already in your home. 

As much as we don’t like it, copper often does not stay beautiful as it ages. So, use vinegar to bring back the shining glory of your favorite copper pieces.

Let’s discover how vinegar works on your copper items and how to use it.

How Does Vinegar Clean Copper?

When you pour vinegar onto a piece of copper, what happens?

As the vinegar penetrates the copper, it will slowly break down the black or brown tarnish. Later, the vinegar and copper join forces, creating a “redox reaction.”

This only means that the vinegar will gradually turn all the tarnished parts back into the copper’s standard greenish or bluish color. With the help of vinegar, the copper will again turn into its bright and shiny form. 

How to Clean Copper with Vinegar

Metals like copper can turn rancid over time. Copper will naturally tarnish whether you like it or not because of the air and different chemical reactions. 

But as much as you would like to use toxic tarnish removers or metal-cleaning products, the harsh chemicals they contain can often have hazardous effects on your health.

The great news is that vinegar will clean copper without exposing you or your family to toxins.

Now, let’s check how you can successfully clean copper with vinegar.

Things You’ll Need: 

  • Table Salt 
  • Bucket
  • White Vinegar


Step 1: Put the copper item in the bucket or the kitchen sink. 

Step 2: Sprinkle a generous amount of table salt into the copper. 

Step 3: Pour enough vinegar over the table salt to wet the copper but not too much to sweep away the salt. 

Step 4: Add more salt and gently scrub your copper item with a sponge or rag to clean the tarnish. 

How to Clean Badly Tarnished Copper with Vinegar

There are many reasons why your copper items tarnish more than usual. Heavy tarnish can be caused by extreme air exposure, usage, and natural discoloration.

But don’t worry because there’s no stopping you from getting your copper pieces sleek, shiny, and sparkling clean again.

Here’s what you need and how you can do it! 

Things You Will Need: 

  • Salt 
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket 


Step 1: Add one tablespoon of salt, 1 cup of vinegar, and 3 to 4 cups of water into a bucket. 

Step 2: Bring the mixture solution to a boil. 

Step 3: Place your copper pieces into the boiling water until the tarnish slowly falls off. 

Step 4: Pull the copper item out of the bucket and scrub it carefully. 

Step 5: Apply a thin layer of linseed or mineral oil on your copper pieces. 

Can You Clean Copper Jewelry with Vinegar?


Cleaning copper jewelry has been made easier, thanks to vinegar. Vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent to restore your tarnished copper jewelry.

Follow these steps to clean your jewelry with vinegar:

Things You’ll Need: 

  • Salt 
  • Vinegar
  • Flour
  • Water

Step 1: Make a paste by mixing one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon of salt, and flour. 

Step 2: Once you turn it into a paste, apply it to your copper jewelry. 

Step 3: Afterward, rub the tarnished areas of your copper jewelry. 

Step 4: Let it stand for around 15 minutes to one hour. Rinse with water. And voila-polish as needed! 

Can You Clean a Copper Sink with Vinegar?

The vinegar’s natural acetic acid makes it a perfect cleaner for your copper sink.

Unlike other abrasive cleaners like steel wool, scrubbing pads, and bleach, vinegar can clean your copper sink by seeping through the tarnish and eating away the mineral deposits.

Here’s how you can make your copper sink sparkling and tarnish-free with vinegar:

Step 1: Start by mixing white vinegar and water into a container. 

Step 2: Using a wet sponge, scrub the discolorations and stains on your copper sink in a gentle, circular motion. 

Step 3: Repeat the process until you see visible results. And yes, remember to dry your copper sink with a clean, soft cloth to avoid further stains and oxidation from building up. 

How Often Should You Clean and Polish Copper with Vinegar?

There’s no hard, fast, or strict rule on how frequently you should clean and polish your copper items using vinegar.

You can decide to clean often. Or, since tarnish is easy to remove, you can postpone the cleaning for quite some time.

But the longer you wait, the worse the copper tarnish will be. And that only means the cleaning and polishing process would be more difficult.

The rule of thumb dictates that it’s always best to clean and polish copper items once every six months. But then again, you can do the vinegar cleaning methods as often as you like.

What Other Household Items Clean Copper?


Removing tarnish and discoloration in copper is a daunting task.

However, it’s rewarding to see your copper items shining brightly again with a shiny finish.

And yes, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to use harsh chemicals to bring their shine back. Skip these since there are other ingredients you can use from your kitchen! Here are the other household items to clean your copper pieces naturally.


Ketchup is one of the simple cleaning techniques you can use to clean copper. Just apply enough layers of ketchup to your copper sink or pan.

Slowly rub this condiment all over the place. The acid component of the tomatoes in the ketchup is the one that will do the work. It is also known to remove tarnishes. Finally, rinse and dry.

Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Here’s another cleaning ingredient that works perfectly for badly tarnished copper items. 

Try this DIY method by mixing baking soda and lemon juice. Once combined, apply this solution to your copper pieces. 

Using a gentle and clean cloth, rub it in a circular motion. Afterward, rinse and dry. 

Table Salt and Lemon 

Another efficient way to clean and polish copper is table salt and lemon.

For this cleaning hack, cut a lemon in half and put table salt on the pulp

Carefully rub the lemon on the copper’s surface. This cleaning agent is like a natural abrasive sponge.

Use table salt as much as you need to eliminate stubborn tarnish. Finally, rinse and dry.

Tips for Keeping Copper Polished and Shiny

Of course, you want to keep your copper items for a long time. After all, who wouldn’t want to preserve this shining metal?

As mentioned earlier, cleaning and polishing will let your copper items live for years.

Here are tips to keep your copper pieces polished and shiny:

  • Always keep your copper pieces in a cool, dry place. 
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners and harsh chemicals when removing tarnish and polishing copper pieces. 
  • After every cleaning process, immediately apply mineral oils. 
  • Polish the copper pieces once you see early signs of tarnish. 


So, will vinegar clean copper? The answer is yes, and along with salt, can clean your copper jewelry, sinks, and household items.

Extreme discoloration and tarnish of copper are a natural cause of everyday wear and tear.

Clean your copper items as soon as you start noticing tarnish on them, and it will be easier to clean.

If you run out of vinegar, use ketchup, baking soda and lemon juice, or table salt and lemon to clean your copper.

While maintaining the shine and sparkle of copper can seem daunting in the long run, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

To learn what else you can use vinegar for in your home, read our article – Does Vinegar Remove Hard Water Stains?