How to Clean Copper Pots and Pans the Easy Way

Pots and pans with copper-clad bottoms are great for cooking, but the copper can become stained and tarnished over time.

Here’s an easy way to clean copper-clad cookware naturally using only vinegar and salt.

How to Clean Copper Cookware:

  • Pour a 1/2” or more of distilled white vinegar in a frying pan or skillet and sprinkle in salt.
  • Heat the vinegar/salt mixture on a stove to almost boiling.
  • Put the bottom of the copper pan in the hot vinegar, and pour enough water in the pan to prevent it from floating in the vinegar solution.
  • Allow the pan to remain in the vinegar for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the vinegar and rinse it off.

If needed, sprinkle salt on a sponge dipped in the hot vinegar, and use it to scrub the pan to remove any remaining stains.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: Most home cooks love using copper-clad cookware because the copper conducts and transfers heat really well. The problem is that copper has a tendency to stain over time. Here’s a quick way to clean up a pot so it looks a good as new.

First of all take a skillet and add some white distilled vinegar, probably about a half-inch or more. Sprinkle in a good amount of salt, and turn on the heat underneath it.

Wait till it gets just to the point of boiling, which is where we are right now, then turn it off and set the pot in there. Now the pot’s empty, so it will float, so what you need to do is add some water just as ballast just to hold it down. There you go.

Now, we’re gonna let that set for about 10 minutes, and we’re going to come back and clean it up. OK. It’s been about 10 minutes now. We’re going to take it out of the vinegar, dump out the water, and take a look.

Well, there you go, look at that. Without even scrubbing it, I was gonna take a little scouring pad and see if I needed to scrub off any of this staining, but it’s already almost brand new. That’s just from sitting in the vinegar for 10 minutes.

Now, if you take it out and you see there’s still some staining left, what I’d suggest is dip the sponge—a scouring sponge—in the vinegar, put a little salt on it, and that will act as an abrasive to really scrub the pot completely clean. And again, it will be as good as new.


  1. Tried it on copper bottom pans we got when be married in 1958. Started cleaning with a special paste like stuff, but gave up on that quickly. Pots mown look better than they have for nearly 70 years. There are some v bad places that did not clean, but who really cares?

    Thank you!!! dp

  2. My grandma gave me a set of copper bottom pots and pans for my engagement.In the beginning I was diligent in cleaning them. After awhile I was rather lax. I used your method heating the vinegar in a pan…Voila! A little extra scrubbing and the pots shinned… My engagement party was 64 years ago. was the only method that was almost instant gratification.

  3. I would like to know what you have that will clean the stove top brunner & anything else in the kitchen . Like the wall that have grease on it..

    • Hi, Myrtle, features home improvement advice from the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and its experts.
      We don’t sell cleaning products on this website, but we encourage checking your local The Home Depot for these items.

      Good luck!

  4. Susan, sept 2, 2018
    you pot may be an older copper pan and older copper has a pink color to it, at least european copper items. that is how I can tell if I am looking at real old copper or not.

  5. I have a copper pan I got at a flea market. The bobottom is burned black. How do I get this off. I feel a dollar was a good price for this pan.

    • Hi, Linda,
      Thanks for contacting us. We love flea markets and all the great finds!
      For clarification, did you already follow the steps in this tip?

  6. I use BarKeeper to clean my regular copper bottom pots. I am having a hard time cleaning the new copper pans they advertise on TV. Help!


    WOW!!! This worked. Wish I could post pictures. I have Paul Revere limited edition copper pans. They were very loved over the years by my father in law. 95% covered with burnt on food or build up from use. First I tried tarnix, awful smell and helped a bit. Next I used Wright’s Copper Cleaner. Love this! It works so much better with out the smell. However, it was still 75% covered with burnt markings, So, I boiled the vinegar, salt and water solution. Followed your directions. Voila! A 40 year old pan looks brand new! Thank you!!! I now have 5 treasured Paul Revere fully copper pans that were used on a daily basis serving delicious meals that are now shiny, sparkling and new ( well almost new). Again thank you.

  8. I have the same Paul Revere fully copper pans as Yvonne above (just purchased at a garage sale!). They have no burnt bottoms but are dingy and even have some discoloration which I would call “blotchy” in place. Not sure if it is stained as yet but washing with warm soapy water doesn’t change anything. To completely submerge for 10 mins would take probably a gallon of white vinegar. Do you think I could “sponge wash” for 10 minutes or should I actually submerge each pan (and lid?)


    • Hi, Victoria,
      We recommend following Joe’s instructions, which we’ve tested and know yield great results.
      However, if you decide to sponge wash first, please let us know how it goes.
      It may do a great job without all that vinegar. 🙂
      Good luck!

  9. All I can say is OMG. I inherited revere ware from my grandma when she died in 1976 and she had them for 15 or so years and now it is 2020. I have not been very religious about cleaning the bottom of the copper pans. OK I gave up. This idea is mind blowing. All of my pots are now glowing. My smaller pans are glowing. My bigger pots still need a bit of elbow grease because of built on grease and dried grease etc. and then I ran out of vinegar. I am still trying to figure out how to soak the large large frying pan. Thank you so very much for your suggestion. After 70 years of grease and now they are clean!!!!!!!!!!

  10. I used a vinegar, baking soda, Dawn and salt paste and seem to have removed most of the copper from the bottom of my 50 year old Revere Ware saucepan. I left the paste on for about 45 minutes, but did not scrub- just wiped it off. Now there is just silver metal where once there was copper. Is it possible I have removed the copper, or did the copper just turn a silver color? How to restore?

    • We’ve heard of this happening, Daphne, and yes, to Revere Ware!
      Try simply polishing the copper and let us know how it goes. 🙂


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