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How to Clean Copper Jewelry: 8 methods to Try at Home

How to clean copper jewelry? Copper is a popular metal used to make coins, idols, cutlery, wire, roofing, musical instruments, and the list goes on.

But copper is also used to make jewelry.

However, the main drawback is that copper is much more likely than gold and silver to tarnish and discolor.

This is why it’s important to take good care of copper jewelry so your pieces last longer.

In this post, we’ll share the 8 best methods to clean copper jewelry at home, and all the things you need to do to keep your copper jewelry as shiny and beautiful as possible: 

Hammered copper cuff bracelet
Image by John Brana

Hammered copper cuff bracelet

Why is copper used in jewelry?

Did you know that copper is the third most used metal in the world for jewelry making and other uses after gold and silver?

This is because it’s an inexpensive and widely available metal.

It’s durable, versatile and has a unique, attractive reddish-orange color that goes well with numerous gemstones. 

Copper is also the metal of choice for spiritual purposes.

It is the balancing element of spirit and mind. Copper also has the properties of an enhancer crystal.

This means it promotes self-improvement, love and peace.

Copper bracelet

Are there any health benefits?

Copper is found throughout the human body. It’s an essential nutrient that helps to:

  • Maintain bones and teeth
  • Regulate immune function
  • Support the function of blood vessels and nerves
  • Form new red blood cells (when combined with iron)
  • Prevent cardiovascular disease
  • Delay and treat arthritis
  • Improve skin and hair health

Copper jewelry is notorious for leaving green stains on the body.

This is a result of the oxidation that takes place as it comes in contact with air, and discoloration caused by sweat.

It is believed to have a healing effect as the enzymes from these stains are released into the body.

Tarnished copper gold heart
Image by Dianne Maire via Shutterstock

Tarnished copper gold heart

Why you should clean your copper jewelry

Copper might not show dirt and grime as readily as lighter metals, but it still accumulates dust and oils. This comes from the environment, as well as your own skin.

And, although copper doesn’t rust , it can tarnish and discolor due to the formation of patina on the surface. 

It’s important to learn how to clean copper jewelry like copper bracelets) to keep up its appearance, and prevent the formation of tough grime that may require professional help to clean.

Luckily, copper is relatively easy to clean and unless you neglect your jewelry for years, you shouldn’t have any problems. 

How to clean copper jewelry

Now, here are 8 ideas on how to clean copper jewelry at home, without using commercial copper cleaners.

White vinegar on wooden table top
Image by Focal Point via Shutterstock

1. How to clean copper jewelry with vinegar 

Vinegar makes a great cleaning solution for quite a few metals like gold, stainless steel and copper.

Unlike other acids, vinegar is mild enough to clean without tarnishing, yet strong enough to disinfect and remove dirt and grime. 

On its own, vinegar is enough to do most jobs, but for the tough ones, consider adding salt to the solution to give your copper jewelry a polished look.

You will need:

  • White vinegar
  • A bowl (large enough for a copper bracelet)
  • Salt (optional)
  • Microfibre cloth or jewelry polishing cloth

Steps (Soaking method):

  1. Place copper jewelry in the bowl, and add enough vinegar to cover it. You may also add salt to the bowl if you desire. 
  2. Allow the copper jewelry to soak for 10-15 minutes 
  3. Rinse thoroughly under a faucet, then dry with microfibre cloth or jewelry soft cloth

Alternative 1 (Boiling method):

  1. Add vinegar and salt to a pot, enough to cover the copper jewelry
  2. Add jewelry to the pot and bring the solution to a boil
  3. Use a pair of tongs to remove jewelry, and allow to sit and cool before handling

Alternative 2 (Paste method): 

  1. Combine 3 tbsp of flour, 3 tbsp of salt and enough vinegar to form a thick paste
  2. Use a cloth to apply the mixture then allow it to sit in a plastic bag overnight
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water and pat dry


  • Cheap ingredients
  • Straightforward steps
  • Polished finish (with salt)


  • Should not be used if copper jewelry has gemstones
  • Jewelry can burn user if not carefully handled after boiling
owl of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Image by Viktor1 via Shutterstock

2. Using lemon juice instead of vinegar 

Lemon juice is a popular alternative to vinegar because it smells better.

Using a lemon juice solution on copper jewelry is perfect for stubborn grime and will disinfect leaving a great aroma. 

You will need:

  • Lemon juice or a half of a lemon
  • Table salt
  • Rubbing cloth
  • Microfibre cloth or soft cloth
  • Soft bristle toothbrush (cream of tartar paste method)


  1. Sprinkle table salt on the half-cut lemon, or add equal parts lemon juice with salt in a container
  2. Rub the half- lemon against your copper jewelry, or use a rubbing cloth to apply the mixture
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 

Alternative 1 (Cornstarch and baking soda paste):

  1. Add cornstarch and baking soda to a half- cut lemon, or add to lemon juice
  2. Rub the half- lemon against your copper jewelry, or use jewelry polishing cloth to apply the mixture
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 

Alternative 2 (Cream of tartar sauce paste):

  1. Combine 2 tbsp cream of tartar sauce with 1 tbsp of lemon juice in a dish to form a runny paste
  2. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes
  3. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub the jewelry and get into small crevices
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, pat dry


  • Gets rid of stubborn dirt and grime
  • Leaves copper jewelry smelling great


  • Lemons and cream of tartar are relatively pricey
  • Not useful for copper jewelry with gemstones
Jar and spoonful of baking soda
Image by Maderla via Shutterstock

3. The secret to copper jewelry’s brilliant shine: Baking soda

Baking soda is a must-have in every pantry for its versatility and affordability.

Once again, baking soda is here to save the day, and restore shine to copper jewelry. 

Combined with tea tree oil and white vinegar, this method restores shine and luster and has antifungal and disinfecting properties.

You will need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • Soft bristle toothbrush, soft cloth
  • Bowl


  1. Submerge copper jewelry in white vinegar, and add a drop of tea tree oil
  2. Allow to soak for a couple of hours, or even overnight
  3. Remove from bowl and sprinkle with baking soda
  4. Use the toothbrush to gently scrub the jewelry to remove grime and improve shine
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 

Alternative (Baking soda paste):

  1. Combine equal parts baking soda with vinegar and a drop of tea tree oil
  2. Use a toothbrush to apply the paste and scrub gently
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 


  • Ingredients readily available
  • Improves shine and luster


  • Not suitable for copper jewelry with gemstones
 Soapy water foam
Image by Aga7ta via Shutterstock

4. How to clean copper jewelry: for a light cleaning, just use soapy water

The universal method of cleaning jewelry is using warm, soapy water.

This is perfect for a light clean and copper jewelry with gemstones

You will need:

  • Warm water
  • 1 drop of mild, unscented dish soap
  • Glass or plastic bowl
  • Microfibre cloth, or polishing cloth


  1. Combine warm water with dish soap in the bowl until sudsy
  2. Submerge copper jewelry in water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes
  3. Dip the jewelry polishing cloth in water and gently wipe the jewelry till satisfied.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 


  • Quick and easy method
  • Safe for most gemstones


  • May not remove hard grime and discoloration
Fresh tomato ketchup in a bowl
Image by Neil Langan via Shutterstock

5. Can ketchup help cleaning copper jewelry and restore its luster?

Ketchup contains vinegar and salt, two key ingredients that help to dissolve the layer of copper oxide on copper jewelry that causes it to appear dull or tarnished.

It’s also a great way to restore silver jewelry to its glory!

You will need:

  • Ketchup
  • Rubbing cloth


  1. Cover your copper jewelry with ketchup. For best results, allow ketchup to sit on jewelry for a few minutes
  2. Use a rubbing cloth to gently rub tarnished areas
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 


  • It’s already in your fridge/pantry
  • Helps restore shine


  • Sticky and messy
  • May leave behind a smell
Worcestershire sauce in a bowl
Image by Neil Langan via Shutterstock

6. Don’t underestimate Worcestershire sauce

Using Worcestershire sauce for copper jewelry works in pretty much the same way as ketchup. 

You will need:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Rubbing cloth or polishing cloth


  1. Cover your copper jewelry with Worcestershire sauce. For best results, allow it to sit on jewelry for a few minutes
  2. Use a rubbing cloth to gently rub Worcestershire sauce into tarnished areas
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry. 


  • Gets rid of tarnishes and discoloration
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • Can be messy
  • May leave behind a smell
Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner
Image via Magnasonic

Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner

7. What about an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner to clean your copper jewelry?

If you don’t feel like making copper cleaning concoctions at the moment, you can always make cleaning copper jewelry easier for yourself by purchasing an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. 

An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner uses ultrasonic waves to dislodge dirt and other particles from jewelry and other small objects. These powerful waves are enough to clean most types of jewelry without causing damage or loosening precious gemstones. 

This Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner is an affordable choice and is simple to operate. 


  • Affordable
  • Saves time and effort
  • Can reach crevices that a toothbrush can’t clean


  • Can damage porous gemstones like pearls, coral, amber and opal

Jewelry cleaning kit
Image via Connoisseur

Jewelry cleaning kit

8. Jewelry cleaning kit 

When you have a lot of high-value jewelry, you may want to use top-of-the-line cleaning solutions and tools to maintain your copper jewelry.

Most jewelry cleaning kits come with a cleaning brush and polishing cloth, while others have additional accessories like pre-made solutions and dipping baskets. 

This Connoisseurs Jewelry Cleaner is a great beginner kit and can be used for everything from copper to diamond jewelry.

It can also be used with gemstones and helps reduce the appearance of scratches and discoloration. 


  • Can be more effective at cleaning tough pieces
  • Contains tools made specifically for cleaning copper jewelry


  • More expensive than DIY methods

And to top it off, protect your copper jewelry with a sealing coating

After cleaning and polishing, the appearance of your copper jewelry should improve a lot.

Now, it’s time to make sure that the finish lasts.

Using a sealing coating helps to protect copper jewelry from future tarnishes and scratches, and makes it shine even more! 

Jewelry protection coating kit
Image via Liquid Shield

Jewelry protection coating kit

Try this Liquid Shield Jewelry Cleaner Solution for your copper jewelry to keep it safe from discoloration, mold, and scratches, and preserve its luster. 

A great alternative is clear nail polish.

You could also take your jewelry to a jeweler who will use a commercial copper cleaner and sealant for best results. 

Jewelry box with jewelry
Image by Rossella via Shutterstock

Final words: 5 tips on how to take care of your copper jewelry

Now that you know how to clean copper jewelry, the next step is maintaining your results and keeping them safe.

Here are 5 top tips on how to take care of your copper jewelry:

  1. Clean your jewelry as soon as you notice it’s dirty. This way, you avoid stubborn discoloration and can use less effort when cleaning.
  2. Avoid wearing copper jewelry in water for extended periods. This means no swimming, no showers, and no washing your hands with your jewelry on. If you sweat a lot, don’t wear copper jewelry every day. 
  3. Lacquered copper jewelry is more resistant to tarnish and discoloration than pieces that aren’t. To keep your jewelry looking great, consider applying a sealant. 
  4. Store copper jewelry in a cool, dry place, preferably in an airtight plastic bag. Moisture causes mold, rust and discoloration. 
  5. Remove copper jewelry before going to bed.

How to clean copper jewelry FAQ’s

Q. Why do copper bracelets turn black?

A. Copper bracelets turn black because they are exposed to oxygen, moisture, human skin and other chemicals which corrode the material. 

Q. What is the best chemical to clean copper?

A. The best chemical to clean copper is acetic acid or vinegar. It’s safe to use and easy to come by.

Q. How do you remove tarnish from copper jewelry?

A. Remove tarnish from copper jewelry by using vinegar combined with your choice of salt or baking soda and tea tree oil. You can also substitute vinegar for lemon juice, and when in a pinch, ketchup or Worcestershire sauce.

Q. How do you keep copper jewelry shiny?

A. Keep copper jewelry shiny using a rubbing/shining cloth, or mild abrasives like salt or baking soda. When finished, apply a commercial sealant to maintain shine.