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They say “All good things come to an end”. Well, here’s some good news! The copper mugs that bring some personality to your kitchen will never see an end if you take care of them occasionally.
As copper is a reactive metal, it can react with the oxygen present in the environment and tarnish and corrode. The tarnishing and corrosion processes can make your copper mugs look less appealing as well as dangerous to your health.
Now, be it any kind of copper you possess, lacquered or unlacquered, it’s highly recommended that you do not put them in the dishwasher. The harsh and intense heat used in the dishwasher can spoil the surface. Instead, you can use some natural remedies.
Don’t worry, it’s not a tedious process at all. I’ve gathered a few quick remedies on how to clean copper mugs to make them shine through in just a few minutes.
10 Ways to Remove Tarnish from Copper:
1. Boil the Copper Vessel
I’ve picked this technique after witnessing it in my very own kitchen. What you need is a large pot made of any metal. Pour some water into it. Add one tablespoon of salt, and one cup of vinegar to the water. Let the mugs sink in.
Let it boil for a few minutes until you see the tarnish disappear from the mugs and dissolve into water. Take the mugs out and gently scrub off the remaining tarnish with a soft washcloth.
2. Lemon and Salt
Lemon and salt are the most accessible ingredients. The citric acid in lemons helps get rid of the stronger corrosion on your copper mugs. You can even use oranges, mandarins, or limes instead of lemons.
Take three to four tablespoons of salt and cut up some lemons. Dip the lemon slices in the salt and then rub your mugs with the salt-covered lemons. Let the lemon and salt residue stay on the mugs for about five minutes and scrub it off with a soft cloth or a cotton cloth.
Then rinse the mug with water and use another dry cloth to soak up the excess water present on the mugs.
3. Vinegar and Salt Paste
This has proven to be the most effective method since vinegar is highly acidic and salt is a popular metal cleanser. This requires equal parts of salt and vinegar- one cup of salt and one cup of vinegar for example.
Make a paste of it and let it stay on the mugs for a few minutes. You’ll automatically see the tarnish fade away without having to scrub it. After a few minutes, gently clean the paste away with a dry soft cloth and rinse the mugs thoroughly with water. Then dry them with a different cloth.
4. Ketchup or Worcestershire Sauce
Yes! You don’t have to use these only as a french fry dip or a seasoning. Ketchup or Worcestershire sauce will also work wonders on the tarnish.
Apply any of these two on the tarnish. Leave it for ten to fifteen minutes. With a sponge or a cloth, start scrubbing the surface. Once you see the tarnish come off, rinse it with water. Quickly dry the mugs with a soft/ cotton cloth.
5. Vinegar and Baking Soda Paste
We all know that baking soda is a great cleaning agent. Create a mixture of three parts baking soda and one part vinegar, and apply it to the mug. Wait for five to ten minutes. Then scrub it with a sponge or a cloth in circular motions. Clean the residue with water and dry the mug with a different cloth.
You can even use lemon juice instead of vinegar.
6. Salt, Vinegar, and Flour Paste
Create a paste containing equal parts of salt, vinegar, and flour. The quantity of the paste will depend on the size of your copper mug.
Apply it all over the mug and let it sit for about thirty minutes. Rub it off with a soft cloth or sponge and rinse off the paste with water. Then wipe it dry with a soft cloth.
Acetone is most commonly found in nail polish removers. But its state is such that it evaporates. So if none of the above-mentioned ingredients are near you, you can give acetone a try.
All you have to do is this- as soon as you apply acetone on the mug, quickly start scrubbing the tarnish off with a cotton/soft cloth or a sponge. Keep doing this for a few minutes, and the tarnish will disappear. When the shiny copper is visible, clean the mug with water and then dry it off with a soft cloth or sponge.
8. Commercial Copper Polish
This is one of the quicker methods to clean copper. You don’t have to necessarily buy this product, however, it can prove to be very effective as the chemicals in the polish are a stronger version of the natural remedies I’ve mentioned above.
9. Cream of Tartar and Lemon Paste
Cream of tartar/ tartaric acid is a residue of wine found in the barrels during the wine-making process. As an ingredient found in baking powder, when mixed with lemon, cream of tartar can be used to clean the tarnish. But this is a much lengthier process.
Take three tablespoons of cream of tartar and lemon juice from half a lemon. Apply it on the mug and let it sit there for an hour. Later, gently clean it off with a soft cloth and rinse it with water. Don’t forget to dry it with another cotton cloth.
10. Diatomaceous Earth and Water Paste
If you do not have any of the above-given ingredients at your place and happen to have diatomaceous earth, then this can prove to be useful too.
Simply make a paste of diatomaceous earth with water. Apply this paste to the tarnished area. Let it stay for about five to seven minutes. Rub the surface with a clean, dry, cotton cloth. Make sure the copper gets its shine back. Then wash the paste away with water and wipe the mug with a soft cloth.
For Regular Care And Maintenance
1. While regularly cleaning copper mugs, always make sure you use a non-abrasive soap, warm water, a soft sponge/ a piece of cotton cloth to dry the mugs later. Do not use polyester or any other fabric material except for cotton.
2. If your dishwashing products are too strong then this will damage your copper mugs. Also, the high heat of your dishwasher can damage them as I’ve said in the beginning.
3. To maintain the cleanliness and shine of your mugs, apply olive oil or linseed oil to them. This guards the copper against air and water.
4. If the above-mentioned oils are not available, you can also use any wax product that has added UV filters. UV filters are widely used in sunscreens and cosmetic products. Keep waxing your copper mugs every few days and they would be safe from corrosion.
Why are some copper mugs lined?
Copper is a soft material and can easily get dented. So some manufacturers line it with nickel, til, or stainless steel to give it some structural support.
Also, lined copper mugs will only let you ingest small amounts of copper—this is actually beneficial for the human body.
Can I drink from an unlined copper mug?
It is safer to drink out of a lined copper mug but even the lining can flake off if you don’t take care of the mug properly. Both lined and unlined mugs can cause copper poisoning if you don’t maintain them well.
What should I not drink from copper mugs?
A bulletin from The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division said that drinks or food with a pH below 6.0 should not come in contact with copper. But there’s no need to fear because only a bit of copper is dissolved into the food or liquid and will not harm the human body.
But it is advised not to drink lemonade sitting in a copper mug for 2-3 hours. Whenever you put something into a copper mug/utensil, have it immediately.
Are Moscow Mule Mugs poisonous?
In short, they are not if they’ve been maintained properly.
The Moscow Mule is an acidic cocktail and people fear that it will react with the copper mug and cause health issues. This has been debunked by an expert. You can have an occasional Moscow Mule cocktail from a copper mug now and then.
You shouldn’t have to stop pampering yourself with a classic Moscow Mule cocktail just because of your tarnished copper mugs. Just follow the easy methods mentioned above and enjoy your clean and shiny mugs!