How to Clean Oxidized Electrical Wires

What You'll Need
Lemon juice
Soft cloth
Tartar sauce

Electrical wires usually look vivid and bright when purchased, but this great new look is quickly taken away when the wires are exposed to moist air and oxygen. Fortunately, oxidized electrical wires are very simple to clean with common household products.

Mix Vinegar, Salt and Flour

Make a paste of ½ tablespoon of Salt, ½ tablespoon of vinegar and ½ tablespoon of flour, and mix thoroughly. Don’t pour too much of either ingredient or the mixture may be too thin/thick.

Apply the Paste

When cleaning with this mixture, the salt will work as an abrasive and all the acids in the lemon juice will remove the oxidation. Scrub the electrical wires with a soft cloth to remove tarnish. Use an old soft bristled toothbrush to get into the small cracks and crevices. Rinse with cool water and buff it to a shine. 

Another Mixture to Try

You can also try mixing lemon juice and tartar sauce to try and clean the oxidized copper wires. Scrub fairly hard with a toothbrush.

Wait for the Full Effect

After brushing the wire with a mixture, be sure to let it sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. This will allow all the chemicals to really soak in and remove and blemishes. Rinse the wire with cold water when you’re done.

Dry the Wire

After any kind of cleaning you need to clean your electrical wires. This prevents water stains (common on cars) and most importantly prevents the wires from re oxidizing too quickly. There is no specific tool you need to use to dry electrical wires but a soft dry cloth is suggested.

Prepare the Substance to Be Boiled

Mix 2 tablespoons of Salt with about 2/3 cup of vinegar. Make sure the salt is fully dissolved into the vinegar, and then pour it into a pot of water at room temperature.


Boil the mixture you just mixed for approximately 15 to 25 minutes, but be sure you don’t exceed 25 minutes. If you do the bottom portion of the mixture may begin to harden and crust up which wouldn’t effectively clean the electrical wires.

Apply the Boiled Mixture

You apply the boiled mixture the same way you applied the regular mixture but when applying it, be sure not to apply high concentrations of it for an extended period of time to one area. This could possibly damage the wire and should be avoided.

Cleaning a Large Piece of Wire

When cleaning a larger wire you can opt to use a lemon with salt on it. The lemon acts as well as the lemon juice but it also acts as a “scrubber” and isn’t as corrosive as pure lemon juice. In areas where the lemon won´t remove blemishes you should switch to using a toothbrush to scrub.

Small Pieces of Wire

When cleaning a very small or thin piece of electrical wire certain “scrubbers” such as a Lemon or a large toothbrush may not be efficient. When this Is the case switch to using a cloth as it can bend and efficiently distribute the mixture you’re using evenly.

The Finishing Touch

After your wire is fully dried apply an even, clean coat of lacquer which will give the wire a glossy look as well as seal it, preventing tarnish.