Your Guide to Copper Sink Cleaning and Care - Sinkology (2023)

Oct 2016

Many people make the assumption that a copper sink is difficult to care for and high maintenance. While a copper sink is very unique and different than a stainless or porcelain sink, it is not any more difficultto maintain. You clean your porcelainsink, right? You get food and build up in your stainless sink, right? The same goes for copper. There are, however, some tips and extra steps that you can take with copper that make cleaningand carea little easier. But, before we get into the details about care, it’s important to review the nature of copper. Copper is a very different material than those used in most sinks and has some very unique qualities.

Understanding Copper and Patina

(Video) How to clean a copper sink!

Copper has a “living finish.” This means that the color and tones of your copper sink will continue to change and shift over time – that’s just the nature of copper, whether it’s in a sink, a penny, or the Statue of Liberty. Now, this doesn’t mean that your copper sink will change from a coppery tone to a purple, green, or yellow! It simply means that certain areas of your sink may shift from a lighter copper tone to a darker copper tone. This is completely normal and it’s what gives copper it’s unique rustic design qualities. This shifting in tones is known as the patina process.

The patina that develops on the surface of copper (and other metals like bronze) is a natural process of protection. The darker tones that develop over a shiny new penny is the copper’s way of protecting itself from the harsh elements. So, naturally, with the heavy use that your copper sink will encounter, you can expect the patina process to occur.

Your Guide to Copper Sink Cleaning and Care - Sinkology (1)

What Affects the Patina

Because the patina process of copper is natural, many things can affect how your copper sink will patina. Certain things will affect how quickly the patina will develop and other things can cause the patina to strip. Either way, your copper sink is not being harmed – it is only the patina that is being affected. Spotting in the patina of your copper sink is not indicative of the health of your copper. Patina is natural and your copper sink will last a lifetime – whether the patina strips or not. When the patina strips, you will see a coppery shine in the surface of your copper sink. Don’t worry! Over time this shiny bright spot will patina and blend in with the earth tones on the rest of your kitchen or bathroom sink.

Below is a listing of several items that can strip the patina from your copper sink:

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  • Acidic foods (like citrus, tomatoes, ketchup, pepperoni, soda, oils / oily food like chips, etc.)
  • Cosmetics (toothpaste, make-ups, shaving cream, etc.)
  • Abrasive chemicals (avoid bleach, drain unclogging chemicals, etc.)
  • Even oil from your fingers can affect patina (particularly on a naked copper finish)

If you exposethese items toyour sink, don’t worry! First, try to remove them and their residue as quickly as possible. If you leave them on for an extended period of time, they will strip the patina. That’s okay! Don’t panic! Just take a deep breath, sit back, relax, and let the patina process take over. Over the course of several days, you’ll notice that the bright, shiny copper is returning to the rich tones you see in the rest of your copper sink.

Your Guide to Copper Sink Cleaning and Care - Sinkology (2)

Some people love the mixture in tones that develop as a result of the patina process; some people prefer a more consistent tone. Patina is a natural process, so it’s not completely within our power to control it, but there are some steps you can take to keep as consistent of a tone as possible.

Embracing the Patina

If you love the changing of tones, then you’re only step to care foryour sink isto clean it regularly. When cleaning your sink, make sure to use a mild soap, warm water, and a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid abrasive chemical cleaners, metal scrubbing pads, or steel wool.

Just like a pair of jeans, a leather jacket, or a sturdy pair of work boots, a copper sink will age based on how much you use it. The integrity of the copper or the structure of the sink will never fail on you (because of this,all Sinkology sinks come with a lifetime warranty), but the finish and the colors will fade, darken, or brighten over the years. This look is what so many copper sink owners love. Like denim or leather, a copper sink gets better with age.

(Video) How We Restored and Protected Our Copper Sink

Helping to Controlthe Patina

If you would prefer a more consistent tone in your copper sink, there are some steps you can take to help control the patina. This does not mean that you can completely control what happens with patina and your copper sink – patinais a naturally occurring process that can sometimes be out of your control.

  • The first step is to clean your copper sinkregularly. When cleaning your sink, make sure to use a mild soap, warm water, and a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid abrasive chemical cleaners, metal scrubbing pads, or steel wool.
  • Next, you’ll want to apply a coat of protection on your sink. Sinkologyhas developed Copper Armor that is designed to prevent water spots and help protect your sink from other spotting. Using Copper Armor is especially important if you have hard water that could lead to mineral deposits. Sinkology Copper Armor is available for both kitchen and bathroom copper sinks.Get the Copper Armor as part of the Copper CareIQ Kit here.
    • If you own a Sinkology copper kitchen sink or copper bathroom sink, you can receive a free Sinkology Copper CareIQ kit by posting a photo of your installed sink to our Facebook or Instagram. Simply post your copper sink photo to our feed with #showusyoursink, and direct message us your home mailing address.Your Guide to Copper Sink Cleaning and Care - Sinkology (3)
  • On an ongoing basis, you’ll want to rinse your sink out after each use and never leave food or dirty dishes sitting in the bottom of your sink. Certain foods have qualities that will strip the patina away and bring out the natural shine of your copper sink. If you’re in the kitchen, you’ll want to avoid leaving citrus or acidic foods in the bottom of your sink (things like tomatoes, ketchup, pepperoni, etc.). In the bathroom, you’ll want to avoid leaving toothpaste and other cosmetics in the bottom of your sink.
    • To help you keep your copper kitchen sink basin free from food and dirty dishes, Sinkology has developed our exclusive line of bottom grids. These bottom grids (available on select copper kitchen sink models) are designed to complement the tone of your copper kitchen sink and are coated in a thick vinyl to ensure they last. See our listing of copper kitchen sink bottom grids here.
    • Sinkology also provides a way to keep your dirty sponges and dish wands out of your sink with our Sidekick Sponge Assistant. Attached by a simple magnet system, the Sidekick will keep rags, sponges, dish wands, gloves, or any other products out of your way and off your copper surface.Your Guide to Copper Sink Cleaning and Care - Sinkology (4)

Other Care Tips

Regular cleaning and care should resolve most of the issues you would run into, but under a few circumstances, you might find you need a little extra help.

  • Bright spots – If you see a small bright spot appear on your sink from a leftover piece of lime or forgotten blob of ketchup, don’t worry! The area will re-patina back to a darker tone with time. To help it fade more evenly in with the sink, clean the area with water and a mild soap, and then consider using a stiff bristle to wear off some of the darker patina around the edges of the spot. This will allow the area to blend better with the rest of the sink as it ages and darkens.
  • Green spots – Overexposing your sink to moisture for prolonged periods of time could cause some green spotting. This is just a mineral build-up that can easily be removed with a soft cloth or even a fingernail. This will typically occur around the faucet, drain, or other area where water pooling can occur. To prevent this, keep water from gathering and sitting in these areas. If it does occur, don’t worry! It’s very easily to wipe off or scratch off with your fingernail (avoid scratching it off with anything metal or too hard). Some soaps may cause green spotting if it is left to sit on the sink’s surface for prolonged period.
  • Brown film –Sometimes there may be build-up of the patina in certain areas of the sink where water can collect or pool (similar to green spotting). Any brown film build-up can easily be wiped off with a cloth or scraped off with a fingernail.

Summary: Do’s and Don’ts

Hereis a brief but important list of Do’s and Don’ts.

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FAQs

What is the best cleaner for copper sinks? ›

Dish soap and water make a simple, effective copper cleaner for your sink. If you have stains in your copper sink, mix a paste of baking soda and water to remove them. Knowing what not to use to clean your copper sink is also important. Skip any harsh or abrasive cleaning solutions or tools.

What should you not put on a copper sink? ›

Copper
  • Never use abrasives, metal (copper) cleaners, scouring pads, lime or rust removal, alkaline-based, ammonia-based or acidic-based chemicals or cleaning products.
  • Acidic foods such as juices and ketchup can remove the patina if left on the sink.
18 May 2022

Can you use SOS pads on copper sink? ›

Tips for Copper Sink Care:

Clean after each use with warm water, a gentle dish soap, and a soft cloth or sponge but be sure to avoid harsh and abrasive chemicals and cleaners. Never use scouring pads, steel wool, or any other hard scrubbing pad.

Can you use vinegar on copper sinks? ›

An alternative solution for sanitizing copper sinks is to use a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Scrub the vinegar and water onto the copper sink using a clean microfiber cloth.

How do you keep copper shiny after cleaning? ›

Wax coating, lemon juice solutions, and lacquer spray are common options. On small copper items, the former are feasible ways to prevent copper from tarnishing. The best approach for large copper items, however, is to apply a lacquer coating annually to sufficiently protect and preserve the copper sheen.

Does toothpaste stain a copper sink? ›

Below is a listing of several items that can strip the patina from your copper sink: Acidic foods (like citrus, tomatoes, ketchup, pepperoni, soda, oils / oily food like chips, etc.) Cosmetics (toothpaste, make-ups, shaving cream, etc.) Abrasive chemicals (avoid bleach, drain unclogging chemicals, etc.)

Can you use Bar Keepers on copper sink? ›

Bar Keepers Friend shouldn't damage quality copper, but it's always a good idea to test the cleanser on a small area first (because some products marketed as copperware may be a mix of metals). Wet a spot on the copperware and add a slight amount of Bar Keepers Friend.

Can you put bleach in a copper sink? ›

DO NOT allow chlorine bleach in contact with your Copper sink. It will remove the patina and drastically alter the finish of your sink. — DO NOT allow drain cleaners to come into contact with the sink surface.

How do you make copper look new again? ›

Here's how to clean copper with an old standby: vinegar.
  1. Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup flour and enough vinegar to make a thick paste.
  2. Use a soft cloth to rub the paste on the surface of the copper.
  3. Buff the copper item until it shines.
  4. Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly.
7 Jan 2021

Does WD 40 clean copper? ›

Use of the Day: WD-40 helps to remove oxidation from copper pots. Clean with soap and water after.

How do you brighten a copper sink? ›

Fill a container with two cups of warm water and a teaspoon of mild soap. Wet a sponge in the mixture, and wipe down the sink. Scrub off stains and water spots by applying gentle pressure, and continue until the copper is stain-free and spotless. Rinse the sink with clean water and dry with a soft cloth.

Can I use pledge on copper? ›

We recommend using Pledge Multi surface cleaner. This will help in maintaining the luster of the patina. If the copper surface ever gets scratched, don't worry, it will renew its original, aged patina with normal. Remember a living finish is like a scraped knee.

Should I oil my copper sink? ›

A copper finish is a living finish and never really stops changing in color. You can greatly reduce this change with the use of an auto (Paste) wax and or furniture oil such as Pledge Lemon Oil. Sinks can also be sealed with olive oil (oils will darken and enrich color somewhat.

Can you use silicone on a copper sink? ›

Sinkology neutral curing silicone does not react negatively with natural copper sinks, giving you a clean watertight seal that will last.

Should you polish a copper sink? ›

If you have chosen to have a bright copper finish for your sink instead of allowing the natural patina to blossom over time, you will need to clean and wax the sink regularly to maintain the shine.

What is the best homemade copper cleaner? ›

A simple homemade copper cleaner to banish tarnish can be made by combining lemon juice with baking soda and stirring until mixed completely. Once mixed, apply to the copper surface and buff in a circular motion using a soft and clean cloth. Rinse and dry.

How do you clean copper with vinegar? ›

Steps:
  1. Place all your copper and brass in the bucket.
  2. Add a tablespoon of table salt.
  3. Add enough white vinegar to cover your metal.
  4. Give the bucket a light shake, and let your bucket stand for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove your metal and dry (inside and out) with a Bounty Paper Towels.

Can you use CLR to clean copper? ›

What will CLR do to copper or aluminum? CLR will take the finish off of aluminum and copper.

Does vinegar polish copper? ›

If you don't have any lemon juice, distilled white vinegar or ketchup works very well to polish copper. Vinegar contains acetic acid (ketchup contains vinegar as well as citric acid in the tomatoes) that reacts with copper tarnish and breaks its bond with the copper.

Does vinegar tarnish copper? ›

Acidic substances react with the surface of copper, causing it to tarnish and corrode almost instantly. This corrosion is highly soluble, leading to the presence of toxic copper salts in the food. This is why it is not recommended to use copper vessels for foods high in acidity, such as milk, wine, or vinegar.

Can you clean a copper sink with baking soda and vinegar? ›

Make a baking soda paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part vinegar. Rub the paste onto all dull and chalky areas of your sink. Allow the paste to sit for a time. Gently scrub with a soft sponge and then rinse your sink with warm water.

Can you use toothpaste on copper? ›

Smear a small amount of plain white toothpaste onto the copper item. Make sure it is a non-gel toothpaste as gel varieties can cause scratches to the metal. Leave for a couple of minutes. Polish with your cloth, making sure you remove any residue.

How often should I wax my copper sink? ›

Use a copper wax surface protectant (such as carnauba wax) once a month to help protect your sink's beautiful finish. Never let chlorine bleach or drain cleaners touch the surface of your copper sink.

Should you wax a copper sink? ›

Polished Copper

All you need to use is mild soap and water. Waxing is not necessary with polished copper patinas as the lacquer seals the copper and prevents it from changing colors. However, waxing does support easy clean up on both lacquered and unlacquered sinks and will not harm the lacquer.

How do you clean copper with ketchup? ›

Copper oxide dissolves in a mixture of weak acid and table salt, both of which are found in ketchup. Slather the ketchup onto your copper-bottomed pots and leave it on for as long as you can. Then wipe and rinse. (By the way, you get the same result with lemon juice plus salt.

Does baking soda clean copper? ›

For extra-tough spots (think the bottoms of copper cookware that experience a lot of wear and tear), sprinkle baking soda directly onto dirty spots. Apply warm water with a cloth or sponge and lightly buff the area. Use a light hand—too much pressure can easily scratch copper.

How do you clean copper with Coke? ›

Restore that bright sheen by soaking the copper bottom in a pan filled with Coke for about an hour. The acid in the Coke makes the copper look shiny and new—without scrubbing. This cleaning trick works on plenty of other household copper accents as well.

Does peroxide clean copper? ›

Copper can tarnish, however. Some people choose to let Mother Nature create a green patina, but we know others prefer to maintain the shine of copper. We suggest you use a natural copper cleaning solution of water, peroxide, and citric acid to remove dirt from your cupola.

Does Windex clean copper? ›

Copper. “The alcohol contained in Windex will affect the patina of the copper and could cause permanent discoloration,” shares Sarah Steeb, a home cleaning expert with Housekeeping Associates. Instead, use water on those copper pots, pans, trays, etc. and buff it out with a microfiber cloth, she says.

What kind of vinegar cleans copper? ›

As an alternative, look to distilled white vinegar to clean copper pots and pans.

How do you keep copper bright and shiny? ›

Fill a spray bottle with 1 pint of white vinegar and add 3 tablespoons of table salt. Spray solution liberally on copper or brass. Put it aside and forget it allowing it to set for a while, then simply rub clean.

What is the polishing agent for copper? ›

Be sure to have the following ingredients on hand, says Reichert, to remove and prevent tarnish and polish up copper pieces: baking soda, lemon juice, salt, vinegar, ketchup, baby oil, orange juice (as an alternative), and baking soda.

How do I keep my copper sink from oxidizing? ›

Rub a coat of old-fashioned furniture wax, beeswax or copper wax into the surface of the sink to clean it; the wax helps slow down the patina development. Use a soft cloth to apply the wax, rubbing it in with a circular motion. Use the wax every time you clean the sink for best results.

How do you make copper shiny? ›

Salt, vinegar and flour combine to create chemistry to polish copper. Mix together one-quarter cup salt and one-quarter cup flour, then add enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Rub that paste on the copper surface and gently buff it using a microfiber cloth until it shines; wash and dry thoroughly.

Can you use plumber's putty on a copper sink? ›

silicone with a copper sink? Both. are totally safe to use on copper.

What is the best product to seal a kitchen sink with? ›

The best products for sealing around sink

If you need to get a job done quickly and want to be able to use the sink soon after sealing, use UniBond Speed Sealant. You can use the sink again just one hour after application. For seals that last a lifetime, try UniBond Triple Protection Anti-Mould Sealant.

Does Flex Seal work on copper? ›

Flex Seal will work on roofs, gutters, skylights, windowsills, flashings, downspouts, foundations, awnings, chimneys, vent pipes, RV's, campers, trailers. It can be applied to wood, copper and other metals, concrete, masonry, glass, fabric, plastics and much more.

How do you refresh a copper sink? ›

For one of the simplest DIY cleaning techniques, apply a layer of ketchup to a copper pan or copper sink, and rub the condiment all over the surface. The tomatoes in ketchup contain an acid that helps remove tarnish. Rinse and dry.

What vinegar is best for cleaning copper? ›

Steps:
  • Place all your copper and brass in the bucket.
  • Add a tablespoon of table salt.
  • Add enough white vinegar to cover your metal.
  • Give the bucket a light shake, and let your bucket stand for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove your metal and dry (inside and out) with a Bounty Paper Towels.

What is the best cleaning agent for copper? ›

Salt, vinegar and flour combine to create chemistry to polish copper.
  • Mix together one-quarter cup salt and one-quarter cup flour, then add enough vinegar to make a thick paste.
  • Rub that paste on the copper surface and gently buff it using a microfiber cloth until it shines; wash and dry thoroughly.

What happens when vinegar touches copper? ›

When the vinegar and salt dissolve the copper-oxide layer, they make it easier for the copper atoms to join oxygen from the air and chlorine from the salt to make a blue-green compound called malachite.

Does ketchup clean copper? ›

Copper oxide dissolves in a mixture of weak acid and table salt, both of which are found in ketchup. Slather the ketchup onto your copper-bottomed pots and leave it on for as long as you can. Then wipe and rinse. (By the way, you get the same result with lemon juice plus salt.

Does vinegar oxidize copper? ›

Most harsh substances are capable of oxidizing copper, but you don't need to buy special acids just for that. Basic products like vinegar and salt can have the same effect. All you need is enough amount of these products to submerge your copper item for a certain period.

Does vinegar remove oxidation? ›

Common household ingredients or products such as vinegar, dish soap, and bleach can be used for vinyl siding oxidation removal.

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