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How to clean brass and copper - including methods you never thought about!

Bring dull copper back to life with our guide on how to clean brass and prevent it from tarnishing.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

green apples in a metalic bowl on a table

Key steps

From learning how to clean copper jug handles to prevent tarnishing, follow our key steps to restore the shine:

  1. Gently remove any obvious debris.

  2. Pick a cleaning method and test on a small area first.

  3. Rinse, dry and then buff with a soft cloth or rag.

  4. Clean and polish regularly to prevent tarnishing.

Brassware should gleam but if you don’t know how to clean brass effectively it can quickly become tarnished. Follow our guide to learn how to clean copper and how to polish brass properly so that your pots, jugs, and accessories always look their best.

Giving your copper a regular coating of wax is a great way to prevent tarnishing over time. Keep items clean and polished and they’ll shine for longer.

How to clean brass and copper: obvious and surprising methods

Whether you’re looking to find out how to clean copper pots, pans, jugs or any other bronzed goods in your home, there are a number of methods you can try. Some of our copper cleaner solutions are probably fairly obvious – but there are a few hidden surprises too!

1. How to clean copper or brass with soap and water

Sometimes working out how to clean copper pots and other copper items is as simple as relying on a basic solution of soap and warm water. Simply:

  1.  Soak your copper pots in a solution of warm water and liquid soap, such as LUX Dishwash.

  2. Use a little elbow grease to scrub away grime before rinsing and drying.

You can also use a commercial brass cleaner, rubbed on with a soft rag, for a polished finish.

Safety warning

As with any new cleaning method, always test on a small area before diving in, to see if there’s any reaction.

2. How to clean copper or brass vessels with salt and vinegar

Salt and vinegar might be a surprising cleaning suggestion but it can help shift deeper stains. This is perfect if you want to know how to clean copper jug handles and other items that are regularly handled and prone to greasy marks.

  1. Combine half a cup of white vinegar with a teaspoon of salt.

  2. Add a little flour to make a paste.

  3. Cover your brass item in the paste and buff in circular motions.

  4. Rinse, dry and buff to polish.

3. How to clean copper or brass bottles with ketchup

Who’d have thought that our favourite red sauce could also bring back the shine to copper?

  1. Squirt on a small amount and gently scrub with a damp cloth.

  2. Give your brass a good wipe down to remove any leftover residue.

  3. Finish with a quick soft cloth polish.

As any new cleaning method, you should do a patch test first.

How to clean brass and copper - including methods you never thought about!

4. How to clean copper or brass with toothpaste

It does a great job keeping your teeth sparkling, but did you know that toothpaste can also bring your brass back to its brilliant best?

  1. Smear a small amount of plain white toothpaste onto the copper item. Make sure it is a non-gel toothpaste as gel varieties can cause scratches to the metal.

  2. Leave for a couple of minutes.

  3. Polish with your cloth, making sure you remove any residue.

5. How to prevent copper or brass from tarnishing

That’s cleaning covered but do you know how to prevent copper from tarnishing? Efficient cleaning and polishing are all that’s really need to keep your copper looking its best – all of the above methods can help keep copper in great shape, the key is to be consistent and stop any tarnishes becoming a problem as soon as you see them.

Now you have a number of things you can try when it comes to figuring out how to clean copper vessels, brass jugs, or other accessories. Ketchup, salt and vinegar, toothpaste… whichever copper cleaner you choose, get stuck in and restore your copper items to their former glory.

Originally published