How to Remove Corrosion from Copper Wiring

Copper wire with the insulation clipped back.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10
What You'll Need
Steel wool
Baking soda

It is exceedingly unusual for copper wiring to become corroded, since copper is the most resistant type of wire to corrosion. So if you suspect that you have wires which are corroded, then you should check and make sure that the wires are not aluminum, rather than copper. Removing corrosion from a copper wire is a complex process, as it is so rare there are very few household remedies for its removal. However, if you have some basic home improvement knowledge, then you should be able to fix your copper wiring with these few steps.

Step 1 – Strip the Wire

Corrosion isn’t always isolated to what you can see. It can creep up inside the insulation and if you do not clean it with the rest, it will simply grow and corrode the rest of the wire all over again. So, before you begin cleaning the copper wire, it is best to strip the insulation to make sure you are getting all of the corrosion off in one sweep.

Step 2 - Cleaning off the Corrosion

First, you should clean the corrosion off the wire using a combination of vinegar and salt. Mix these items in a bowl, using only as much salt as will dissolve in the vinegar. Then, soak the wire in the solution for at least 10 minutes. Corrosion can lie on a piece of wire for a long time, so be careful to rub hard to get the stain off completely. If the wire doesn’t come quite clean, use some steel wool with rubber gloves to scrub it thoroughly.

Step 3 - Wipe it with Baking Soda

Mix some baking soda with water in a separate bowl and dunk the wire into that next. Swish it around for about ten minutes before it should be done. Baking soda neutralizes the acid, leaving the wire less likely to corrode again quickly.

Step 4 – Trim or Discard the Wire

If you find that neither of these methods help to get your wiring clean, then you may have to discard that part of the wiring completely, and start again a little bit further along the wire. Use a pair of pliers to trim the wire around an inch further in than the corrosion has reached.

If the wire has been left in a coil which has become corroded—so that corrosion is spread throughout the length of the wire—you may just have to discard the entire coil. Copper wire is relatively cheap, but using bad wire, even in copper wiring units, is never a good idea.