How To Clean A Copper Lamp

How to clean a copper lamp

To restore a neglected copper lamp to its former beauty and glow is an inexpensive process if one that requires a little patience and elbow grease. Luckily, there are a host of natural remedies consisting of common, non-toxic ingredients.

The most important part of learning how to clean a copper lamp is to assess the extent of the dirt or damage, to ensure the cleaning method you choose won’t be too abrasive for your lamp.

How do you remove oxidation from copper?

how do you remove oxidation from copper

When copper is exposed to air, water, and sunlight, it oxidizes, leaving a black or light green patina across the surface. It can be discouraging to see your brilliant and burnished copper objects turn dull and change color.

Luckily, with a handful of cleaning ingredients you likely already have on hand, removing the oxidation from your copper lamp or copper vessel is easy.

Lemon and Salt

One of the most popular methods for removing oxidation from copper uses lemon and salt.

First, take a lemon and cut it in half. Then dip the flesh of the lemon into a pile of table salt and apply it directly to the copper surface. Rub the lemon in small circles across the copper to scrub off the oxidation stains, dipping it back into the salt pile as needed. This method applies the acid from the lemon with the grittiness of the salt to buff away the stains on your copper objects.

You can also make a paste from the lemon juice, salt, and cream of tartar for a less hands-on approach. Apply the paste to the copper surface and let it sit for 30-60 minutes, occasionally scrubbing it with the leftover lemon or a soft cloth. Once time is up, you can rinse off the paste and dry the copper.

Baking Soda

Spots with particularly dark or difficult-to-remove stains might benefit from a little baking soda. Try sprinkling the baking soda directly to the areas of concern and buff the area using warm water and a damp cloth or clean sponge.

You’ll want to be careful with this method, as too much pressure on the baking soda granules can scratch your copper.

No matter which option you choose, it is important to remember that regular maintenance is the key to keeping copper glowing.

How do you clean corrosion off of copper?

how do you clean corrosion off of copper

To clean corrosion off of copper, you need to look no further than ingredients inside your kitchen cupboards.

Salt, Vinegar, and Flour Paste

Another paste option you can try to remove copper tarnish is by combining equal parts vinegar, flour, and salt. Apply the paste over the affected area and let it sit for about 30 minutes. To remove the paste, rinse it off with warm water and dry immediately. This combo is perfect for objects with severe corrosion or oxidation stains.


The natural acidity from the vinegar and tomatoes in ketchup is excellent for cleaning the stains from oxidation and corrosion off of copper.

Simply rub ketchup over the copper’s surface and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse with warm water to remove the ketchup and dry immediately with a soft cloth to prevent additional oxidation.

Will SOS or scouring pads scratch copper?

will sos or scouring pads scratch copper

The abrasive nature of SOS and scouring pads can easily scratch the copper finish on your items. It is recommended to use cloth or soft towels for cleaning, buffing, and polishing your copper.

What can you use to prevent copper from becoming tarnished?

what can you use to prevent copper from becoming tarnished

While it is not possible to completely keep a copper lamp from tarnishing, you can apply a seal to protect it from air, sunlight, and oils from your hands.

A can of acrylic lacquer will work for this purpose. After cleaning and polishing your copper lamp to a glorious, warm shine, follow the instructions on the can of lacquer to apply an even coat over the surface. Most spray-on lacquers take up to two hours to dry completely.

If you don’t have lacquer on hand, you can also wipe a coat of baby oil over the copper surface as soon as you’ve cleaned it. This method will allow tarnishing to occur faster than an acrylic coating, however, it will seal the copper for a time and slow down the tarnishing process.

How do you clean light fixtures and candle holders with copper finishes?

how do you clean light fixtures and candle holders with copper finishes

Light fixtures and candle holders with copper finishes frequently have an existing lacquer coating to keep them from tarnishing or oxidizing. You can tell if this is the case based on whether or not your light fixture or candleholder is perpetually shiny or if it loses its luster over time.

If your light fixture has a copper finish on it, you won’t need to use the combinations discussed above to clean it. Rather, you will simply need to dip a soft cloth into a bucket of warm water and mild dish soap and wipe it over the item to remove dirt and accumulated dust. Once it is clean, dry immediately with a clean cloth to prevent water spots or rust.

On the other hand, if your copper finished candle holders or light fixtures are tarnishing, the lacquer finish on the top has been damaged or worn away. If this is the case, it will be necessary to strip the lacquer from the copper entirely using acetone nail polish remover or commercial lacquer thinner from the hardware store.