This one simple product, and it's not a typical
Copper is beautiful when it's bright and shiny with that glorious pinkish tinge but tarnished copper is not a pretty sight. I'm talking about the kind of tarnish that's beyond a gorgeous patina and is downright icky.
How I Stumbled Upon this
I have an antique copper boiler washtub that was my Grandma's. She used it to do laundry for her 8 children which totally boggles my mind especially when I think of how much I love my Kenmore.
The boiler has been soldered with metal added to the copper surface that is another metal all together but this particular copper vessel with all of its dings, scratches, and dents and of course, its history, is my idea of beautiful.
How To Clean Copper
I have had Grandma's boiler for longer than I can remember and I have tried, on several occasions, to clean it and shine it using purchased copper cleaner and a homemade copper cleaner or two but I have never had much success with those options and was always still left with a tarnished copper piece.
While looking for natural ways to clean copper I saw that using ketchup was an option that got great results so I thought I would give it a try.
Ketchup to Clean and Polish Copper?
It was Christmastime and I wanted to use the copper tub to hold one of my smaller Christmas trees but there was no way I was going to use it in its then-current state.
I brought it from my sunroom, where I had it stored, into my laundry room and started slathering it with ketchup and when I say slathering, I mean slathering.
The ketchup was left to work its magic and I came back to the boiler in a few hours (be sure to NOT let the ketchup dry in place) to check on the progress.
The results were what I was hoping for so I moved on to the next step.
The treated area was rinsed with warm water and dried with a soft cloth before moving on to the next area to be treated.
Why Ketchup Works
We have a simple chemical process to thank for its effectiveness. Copper oxide and the tarnish that follows is the natural result of copper being exposed to oxygen which can be dissolved by using a mixture of weak acid and table salt, both of which are found in ketchup!
That's it! Doesn't it look so much better after? Not perfect but I still love it!
Ketchup is my favorite method for
Other Methods for
There are certainly other methods that can be used and while they do work, I don't think they work as well as this ketchup
- Baking soda and lemon juice. Apply the paste to the copper surface and start scrubbing and rubbing. It will be messy and requires some effort. When done, rinse well with water and buff dry with a soft cloth. (This is my least favorite option).
- Bar Keepers Friend - I use Bar Keepers Friend all around the house and buy it in bulk so I never run out. I especially like using it on stainless steel and always like the results but this method (like the one above) will require some elbow grease and lots of rubbing and buffing. You'll start by sprinkling the copper item with the cleanser, add water, and scrub! Rinse well and buff dry when done.
- Lemon and Salt - this method smells amazing but again, you'll need to use your scrubbing powers to get the copper shiny!
How to Keep Copper Shining
Once you have cleaned your copper properly, the upkeep is minimal.
I like to use a polishing cloth on it every few weeks to keep it looking its best.
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And here it was as part of my Christmas décor.
How to Clean Copper
Tools and Equipment
- Soft Sponge
- Rubbermaid Scrubber *optional
- Slather a thick coating of ketchup all over your copper surface. I used Hunt's because it's what I had on hand but less expensive generic ketchup will work as well.
- Rub the ketchup into any areas that are particularly problematic or have a thicker layer of oxidation. Let the ketchup stay on the copper for several minutes up to several hours but don't let it dry. The length of time you leave it on will depend on how much tarnish there is.
- While the ketchup is still moist rinse the copper piece you are cleaning with water and wipe dry using a clean cloth (a microfiber cloth will work well) or a towel.
- Depending on how tarnished the copper piece you are cleaning is, you may need to reapply a second coat of ketchup to some of the areas and use a scrubber to get the tough portions clean. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water in between treatments.