How to Clean Copper Mugs

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Do you have copper mugs and you don’t know how to clean them? Don’t worry as there are several ways you can do this. You can’t clean copper mugs the same way you would clean an ordinary coffee or tea mug. The guide below will show you how to clean copper mugs

How to Clean Copper Mugs

You will need to prepare your cleaning area before you do anything. Since you are likely to be doing this in the kitchen, start by cleaning the sink. Get rid of all the utensils in your sink. Clean it thoroughly to remove any grease and grime on the sink.

Once you have finished, you can use any of the below methods to clean your copper mugs.

Just because the mugs are different, does not mean you have to break your bank looking for cleaning supplies. You can find the majority of cleaning supplies in your kitchen.

Materials Required

In this case, you are just cleaning the mugs like you would any utensil. The cleaning materials you will need are:

Woman trying to clean her copper mugs
  • Hemp or soft cotton cloth
  • Soft sponge
  • Mild dish soap

Keep in mind you should never use synthetic or polyester cloths. These tend to scratch the surface of copper mugs. Instead, go for cotton or linen cloths.  


Begin by putting the sponge under tap water to dampen it. Pour a few drops of mild dish soap on the damp sponge. Start scrubbing the copper mug using circular motions. This method will ensure you remove all the grease, grime, and dirt. 

After the scrubbing, rinse with running water. If possible, try and use warm water. Rinse until you remove all particles and soap residue. Use the hemp or soft cotton cloth to dry the mug. After drying the first round, use another cloth to dry for a second round.  

Copper mugs are more sensitive to moisture than ordinary mugs. Any residual moisture may lead to oxidation. Oxidation is the main cause of tarnished copper mugs. Therefore, it is crucial to dry the mugs a second time. The second drying also helps in preserving the mug’s shine. 

How to Clean Tarnished Copper Mugs

With time copper mugs will develop patina and tarnish especially if you haven’t been properly storing them. Copper is a metal that reacts with oxygen in the air. This is a natural process that is not easy to prevent. 

If you want to ensure your mugs are always clean and shining, you need to keep them clean and properly stored. The following are various options you can use to ensure you remove the tarnish on your copper mugs. Fortunately, you can do this by using the products in your kitchen. 

There are several ways you can remove tarnish from copper mugs. You do not have to invest in expensive tarnish removing products. There are affordable cleaning products that you can use

How to Remove Tarnish Using Salt and Lemon

Salt and lemon are other items in your kitchen that you can use to remove tarnish on copper mugs. Unlike the process above, you will not need to boil water. 

Materials You Need

  • Shallow bowl
  • 4 tablespoons of salt
  • One lemon
  • Soft brush
  • Soft dish towels


Wash the shallow bowl and the lemon. Put salt in the bowl. Cut the lemon into four equal parts. Remove the lemon seeds and dip the slices in the bowl with salt. Make sure you cover every slice of lemon with salt. 

Lemon, copper mug, and salt placed on a table

Take the soft brush and start scrubbing the inside of the mug. Use a circular motion when you are scrubbing. When the inside of the mug is clean, you can start scrubbing the mug’s exterior. 

Sometimes you will find there are areas with stubborn tarnish stains. Scrub these areas until you remove the tarnish. Rinse the mug using running water. 

Rinsing should take about a minute to remove any leftover tarnish as well as the lemon and salt mixture. Dry the mug twice using a different soft dish towel for each drying process. 

How to Remove Tarnish Using Water, Vinegar, and Salt

A combination of salt, vinegar, and water is a great way to remove tarnish from copper mugs. The process is simple, and it takes less than an hour.

Materials You Need

  • Five cups of water
  • One cup of vinegar
  • One tablespoon of salt
  • Tongs 
  • Soft brush
  • Dishtowels


Start by mixing water, salt, and vinegar in a pot. These ingredients can wash two mugs at a time. Place the copper mugs in the pot and put it on your stove. Bring the mixture to a boil. Let the water boil until you notice the tarnish has started coming off the mugs.

The solution should continue boiling until you remove all the tarnish. This usually takes about five minutes. If there was a lot of tarnish, you may need to leave the solution boiling for longer. Once you are sure all the tarnish has been removed from the mugs, remove the mugs from the pot using tongs.

In some cases, you won’t completely remove the tarnish. Use the soft brush to scrub off any stubborn tarnish stains. Do not use any detergents. Instead, pour a little of the solution left in the pot in the mug and start scrubbing. 

When you feel satisfied with the results, rinse the mugs. Use running water and make sure you rinse the mugs thoroughly. Dry the mugs twice using different dish towels. Make sure you thoroughly dry all the mugs before you store them. 

How to Remove Tarnish Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Two of the items commonly found in the kitchen are vinegar and baking soda. Apart from using them to cook, you can use them to clean copper mugs. 

Materials You Need

  • Soft dish towels
  • Sponge
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • A bowl
Woman scrubbing clean her copper mug


Clean the bowl and use it to create a baking soda and vinegar paste. Put 1 part of vinegar and three parts of baking soda. The paste should not be very thick. Ideally, create a paste that is like the batter you make when making pancakes. 

Use the sponge to cover the mug with the paste. The paste should cover the interior and exterior surfaces of the mug. Let the paste sit for about ten minutes. This will allow the paste to react with the tarnish. 

Scrub the mug with the same sponge you used to put the paste on the mug. If the mugs are heavily tarnished, use a soft brush. Scrub for about three minutes on the interior of the mug. Repeat the same process for the mug’s exterior. 

Rinse the mug using running water. If you notice there are some areas with tarnish, repeat the scrubbing process. Use one soft dish towel to dry the mug. Dry again using another soft dish towel. When the mug is dry, you can store it in a cool dry place. 

How to Clean Copper Mugs Using Commercial Products

If you feel you don’t want to use home remedies, there are tarnish-removal products you can buy. These products are not cheap and easy to find. You may have to make a purchase online. Make sure you find a product that has great reviews. Each tarnish removal product has a set of instructions you need to follow. Generally, you can use the steps below.

Materials you Need

Cleaning using commercial products will vary by the product you use. However, you can use these materials if you get one without a list of materials you may need.

  • The cleaning product
  • Kitchen gloves (or alternative)
  • A clean and empty sink
  • A clean wet sponge
  • Lint-free towel (optional)


Put on the kitchen gloves and get your copper mug. Make sure you rinse the mug with warm water before you start. The washing process will ensure the mug is somehow clean before you use the cleaning product. 

Douse the mug using the product you purchased. Ensure all the surfaces of the mug are thoroughly doused. Once all the surfaces are doused, start wiping the mug using the clean and wet sponge. If you do not have a sponge, you can use a clean cotton cloth or microfiber cloth. 

Let the mug sit for several minutes. This will allow the product to absorb all dirt and debris, including getting rid of stubborn stains. Rinse the mug with running water and dry it thoroughly. If there are some stains left, repeat the process. Buff using a lint-free towel if you want the mug to shine.  

Bottom Line

Copper mugs are delicate, and they need proper cleaning. If you use the wrong cleaning products, you may end damaging them further. If you cannot use any of the above methods, look for a copper mug cleaning service.

Such a service will cost you some money so be prepared to spend. Otherwise, the above methods are guaranteed to help you know how to clean copper mugs. 

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.