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Cookware Cleaning: Copper Cookware

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2003

No one likes to wash pots and pans. Here's how to handle cleaning copper cookware efficiently and quickly.

Salt. A salted half lemon. Worcestershire sauce. Tomato sauce. Ketchup. Vinegar. Vinegar and Salt. Vinegar and salt and flour. Cream of tartar and water. Yogurt. Boiling milk. Each of these are among the score or more of methods recommended to remove tarnish from copper—not counting commercial copper polishes. Do any of them work?

Enterprising and interesting as they are, these home remedies were not as effective as the traditional commercial polishes we tried, which not only removed tarnish but added shine. Among the home remedies, only the ketchup could be said to effectively remove tarnish, but it didn't add shine. When you're desperate to clean up a tarnished copper pan and have no commercial polish on hand, ketchup does a decent job.

Cleaning Safety

In our search for the ultimate cleaning materials and methods, we continually ran into a couple of stern warnings. In particular, never mix bleach and ammonia. When combined the two create chloramine gasses that are highly irritating to the lungs and can cause coughing and choking. In general, never mix commercially prepared cleansers, which may contain ammonia, bleach, or other chemicals that will be hazardous if combined.

1. Spread an even layer of ketchup over the surface of the pan with a paper towel or dishcloth.

2. After 5 minutes, wipe off the ketchup with a damp towel or sponge. Wash with warm water and dishwashing liquid, and dry.

Among widely available polishes, Weiman Metal Polish did the best job of removing tarnish and adding shine to copper pots and pans. Ketchup does a great job of removing tarnish but won't add a brilliant luster to copper cookware.

Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB