How to Clean a Copper Water Fountain

What You'll Need
Soft, cotton cloths
Household furniture polish
Turtle wax
Calcium Lime Remover (CLR)

The key to keeping a copper water fountain beautiful is making sure it receives proper care and maintenance.  Although copper fountains need to be cleaned on a regular basis, the process itself is not difficult and only requires a few household items.


Step 1 – Clean the Pump

First, turn off the fountain and take the pump out. Using a rag, gently wipe its outer casing.  Then, remove the outer casing and wipe the inside of the pump.  Be sure to remove any debris, such as leaves, from the pump and fountain area.  It is also good to check the water level to make sure it’s high enough and there will be no damage from running the pump dry.

Step 2 – Clean the Copper

Before cleaning, you will need to determine which type of copper fountain you have.  Natural copper fountains have a natural green sheen called patina, or verdigris.  Other copper fountains will have a powder finish, or a baked clear coat finish that allows them to keep a newer, shinier look for an extended period of time.  This finish protects the copper fountain from oxidation, at least for a certain length of time.

Regular copper cleaners are too harsh and will destroy both types of finish on the fountain, so it is important to avoid these types of cleaning agents.  Use a soft cloth apply a small amount of furniture polish to the copper fountain, buffing it gently.  This maintenance should be done once a week for maximum maintenance of the copper fountain.  Do not allow water droplets to remain on the fountain and evaporate, as oxidation will eventually change the overall look of your copper fountain.  The speed of these changes depends a lot on climate.  However, with proper care and maintenance, copper fountains with a powder finish will last much longer before being changed by the oxidation process, since they are somewhat protected. 

Step 3 – Wax the Copper

Any copper fountain with a powder finish should receive a small amount of turtle wax every two or three months, after it has been cleaned.  This wax coating will help protect the fountain’s finish and help it maintain its shiny, new luster.  Be very careful to keep the wax clear of the pump and fountain water, since wax in these areas can cause problems and damage.

Step 4 – Remove Oxidation Effects 

If there are white spots on your copper fountain, you can use calcium lime remover (CLR) to get rid of them, provided you have a fountain with a finish.  CLR should never be used on a natural copper fountain, because it will ruin the naturally occurring patina.  When applying CLR with a cloth, pay close attention not to mix the CLR with any chlorine or acid-based substances, as this mixture can create toxic gases.

Once you know what type of copper fountain you own and take the proper steps to clean and maintain it, you can easily preserve its beauty and functionality for many years to come!