How to Clean Off Copper Buildup

A sheet of copper with bluish green buildup on the surface.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Bowl or container
Tack cloth or rag
Cream of tartar

Many people are looking for ways to clean copper since it is used in many personal and household items and house construction materials. For example, copper is a popular metal used for piping, making jewelry, containers, and other materials. Its use dates back thousands of years. Sometimes, copper oxidizes and forms a blue-green discoloration that builds up on sinks, bowls, or on the copper piping or material itself. These stains are pretty visible and can be unsightly because of the bluish green color of oxidization. Here are a few ways to clean up these stains.

Step 1 – Use the Vinegar/Flour/Salt Method

What you use to clean copper will depend on the materials you have readily available at home. One effective method is to use a paste that consists of vinegar, salt, and flour. Mix an equal proportion of all three ingredients in a bowl or container and apply it on the copper buildup. Allow it to sit on the stain for about 15 to 30 minutes, and then wash the paste away with water mixed with soap.

Step 2 – Rub the Copper Buildup with Salt

A scoop of salt

Place a liberal amount of salt on the stain and rub it with a clean tack cloth or rag. Keep rubbing until the bluish green oxidized copper residue is removed totally from the metal. Salt has metal stain cleaning properties that can easily rub off any blemish on a metal including copper.

Step 3 – Use the Ketchup Method

If ketchup is readily available, apply some to a sponge and use it to rub away the copper residue. If it is a bit difficult to remove, allow the ketchup to sit on the stain for a little while before rubbing it off. Clean the ketchup with water and soap.

Step 4 – Try the Lemon/Salt Method

Lemon has stain-removing properties that can be used to remove copper stains as well. Cut the lemon into two halves and add a sprinkle of salt. Use it to rub away the stain of residue on the affected surface until it disappears. Clean the area by wiping it with a clean rag or cloth.

Step 5 – Use Lemon and Cream of Tartar Paste

Half a lemon and other cleaning materials

For hard-to-remove copper buildup, a paste out of lemon juice and cream of tartar will do the trick. Place some cream of tartar into a bowl or container and squeeze the lemon juice in after. Mix the components to create a paste. Apply the paste on the stain and leave it there to sit for about an hour or two before you wash it away with water and soap. If there is still copper on the surface, rub it with salt.

Tip: Since copper is a soft metal, do not use a strong abrasive because it may damage the metal. Do not rub too firmly either because it may bend the metal.