If you own copper items that have not been covered with a protective lacquer layer, you will find that they begin to discolour over time (especially through prolonged exposure to the air and even dust particles). Regardless of whether your copper items are large (such as sinks, pot racks and other fixtures) or small (such as pots, utensils and decorative pieces), there is a way to remove this discolouration and return to metal to its original luster.
For those homeowners who try to run an environmentally friendly house or who do not want their kids around harmful cleaners, however, there are three ways that you can clean your copper that are completely chemical free:
By mixing together a scrub that consists of equal parts salt, flour and vinegar, you can remove discolouration on smaller items (like utensils) with ease. You will need to prewash your copper items first, however, using a mild soap that has been mixed with some warm water. Then, you can rub at the copper with the scrub, spending a couple of minutes focusing on the most affected areas. To finish, wash the copper items again with some mild soap mixed with warm water. Dry the item thoroughly to prevent watermarks.
Take a lemon and cut it in half, dipping one of these halves into a dish of large salt crystals (these will not dissolve in the lemon juice like ordinary table salt). Take the lemon and polish the copper in circular motions, making sure to get right into the crevices and other embellishments. You will then need to wash the copper using a mild soap that has been mixed with warm water. If you want to increase the shine of your copper even further, buff the surface of the item with a cloth in a circular motion. .
Take a bottle of tomato sauce and smear some of the contents onto the surface of the copper item, leaving it to sit for a few minutes. You can then take some steel wool and use it to polish the copper, using small circular motions. Once you have done this across the entire surface of the item, you can wash it in mild soap that has been mixed with warm water. Dry the copper item immediately, then buff the item in circular motions. .
Whilst there is nothing wrong with preferring to steer clear of chemical-based cleaners and polishers, this does not mean that you should sacrifice the appearance of your copper utensils, cookware or fixtures. Instead, try using one of the above chemical free methods and see how they, with a little elbow grease, can increase the shine of your copper.