How to Clean Dirty Copper Pipe Tubing to Make It Bright and Shiny

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Things You'll Need

  • Small bowl

  • Rinse water

  • Soft cloths

  • Beeswax

  • Solution for mild tarnish:

  • 1 tbsp. vinegar

  • 1tbsp. salt

  • 1/2 cup flour paste

  • Solution for severe tarnish:

  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp. salt

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste


Do not use abrasive cleaners or steel wool to clean copper.

Apply cleaning solution to copper pipes

Copper is used in many applications. From currency and piping to cookware and sculpture, it is among the most versatile of metals. Unfortunately, as copper is exposed to air and water, it gets dirty and stained. A patina develops on the copper that prevents its golden, shiny color from showing through. Patinas have different looks to them and can range from a light green (think statue of liberty) to a brownish color. Cleaning copper can be done in more than one way, safely and easily with average household items. There are cleaning solutions you can make, depending on the severity of the tarnish, to make your copper look new again.


Step 1

Wash your pipes with warm water and dry thoroughly. Apply a small amount of your cleaning solution (either the severe or light tarnish version) to a soft cloth.

Step 2

Rub the solution briskly into the copper. This will take some elbow grease depending on how bad the stains are.

Step 3

Rinse away the cleaning solution with clean water. Dry the pipes thoroughly using a clean, soft cloth.

Step 4

Polish with a soft cloth and beeswax to get a lasting shine.


references & resources

Marisa Swanson

Marisa Swanson began writing and editing professionally in 2007.