How to Easily Clean and Maintain a Copper Sink and What Not to Use

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Copper is a beautiful material that can be used to create a focal point in your bathroom or kitchen. It is unique and will always be eye-catching. However, it is important to take care of it so that it remains in good condition. Copper sinks are surprisingly easy to maintain, and we have provided you with the tips and resources you need to keep your sink looking great for years to come.

Copper has an organic finish meaning that it will change as time passes. They are unique because they create their own natural protection. This happens over time and it’s called the patina. As it changes, the sink will get richer colors and it will be more beautiful. You don’t need to use harsh chemicals or do a lot of work to keep it looking good.

Copper possesses antimicrobial properties that other materials such as porcelain, steel, stone, or marble simply do not have. Bacteria is unable to multiply on a copper surface and dies within hours leaving you with a clean surface the next time you use it.

Once you understand what is required in cleaning a copper sink you will have a safe and tested process that is able to handle even the worst water spots, tarnish, and hard water deposits.

We will discuss the best ways to clean a copper sink. You can use these methods every day to keep your copper surfaces clean. They also work on other metal surfaces such as stainless steel and more.

How Often Should You Clean a Copper Sink?

Monarch Abode 17090 Pure Copper Hand Hammered Highball Single Bowl Kitchen Sink (17 inches)

A copper sink is no different from any other kitchen or bathroom sink in that it requires you to clean it daily. The cleaning regimen, in most instances, is very simple and easy to follow. Hard water has a high mineral content and, if left to sit, will develop into green spots. Drying the sink with a microfiber cloth after every use will stop you from ever developing these ugly spots on your sink.

If you have a beautiful shiny copper sink, unfortunately, it will eventually lose its shine over time. The lacquer will wear away. You can relacquer it or polish it with a cleaner designed specifically for copper and wax it after to keep the shine.

Typically if you use your sink a lot and see that the shine is dissipating, then simply repeat this process.

How to Maintain your Copper Sink


Monarch Abode Pure Copper Hand Hammered Oval Drop-in Bathroom Vanity Sink 17", 17 Inches

These daily cleaning and preventative tips are the best way to clean a copper sink and to help maintain a new or beautiful patina look.

Acidic foods, such as tomatoes, lemons, and limes, can cause damage to a copper sink if left for a long time. Copper is quite delicate so ensure never to leave dirty plates or glasses in the sink.

Copper sinks with a smooth surface require a little extra care if you want to maintain that look, which is why when you need to wash pots, put a cloth or silicone mat in the sink to protect the surface of the sink. Strong chemical-based cleaners and polishes can also damage the sink. 

Waxing your sink approximately 6 weeks apart should keep your sink looking shiny and new.

Wipe Down With A Damp Cloth

Cleaning a copper sink on a daily basis does not involve complex processes which require a lot of waxes and materials.

If you look after your sink regularly, then a simple sponge, warm water, and some elbow grease will keep it looking new. This will also prevent any extra chemicals from being added to the sink for cleaning.

Process

  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Lukewarm water
  • Microfiber cloth or towel
  • Sponge

To clean your sink, start by putting on your gloves, and with a wet sponge, gently wipe the sink’s surface. To finish, use your towel or microfiber cloth to dry the sink, preventing any marks from appearing.

Dish Washing Soap

You don’t need to use harsh cleaners with dangerous chemicals to clean copper sinks. Copper sinks usually need a bit of soapy water. If there are any regular stains, use gentle dish soap.

Process

  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth

Make a mixture of lukewarm water and soap. Scrub the sink’s surface gently with the sponge and soapy mix, and then wash the sink with water. Check to see if you need to repeat the process otherwise, dry with your microfiber cloth.

Mild Cleaning With White Vinegar

White vinegar is a great cleaner for your sink as it contains acetic acid, making it the perfect level of strength for cleaning copper surfaces. When you use vinegar to clean copper, it breaks down the mineral build-up and any residue on the surface. 

Process

  • Dishwashing gloves
  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth

Add 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water in a bowl. Gently scrub the sink using the sponge and solution you just made.

Keep cleaning in a circular motion until the copper is shiny again. Wash the sink with water and with the microfiber cloth, dry the entire sink.

Removing Heavy Stains With Stronger Cleaners

Monarch Abode 17086 Pure Copper Hand Hammered Harbor Bathroom Vessel Sink (19 inches)

There are a few ways to clean copper sinks. The majority of the time, standard cleaning methods work, but sometimes there is more buildup or stains.

If that’s the case, don’t worry – there are simple treatments that are more effective and can take care of the stains without any trouble.

Baking Soda to Remove Tough Stains

Baking soda is a great versatile cleaner for your home. It is a great tool for tough stains of all kinds on various surfaces. You can use it to clean brass, copper, and other metals.

If your sink has stubborn spots that won’t budge and is making your sink look unpleasant, try baking soda before spending money on expensive cleaning products.

Process

  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Water or white vinegar
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sponge

Mix the baking soda with water to make a thick paste. If your sink doesn’t have a patina then use vinegar instead of water.

Spread the paste over the stains and let the paste sit for a minute or two to work into the stained area. Scrub the stained area gently until the stain is no longer visible, rinsing and drying the sink after.

Copper Cleaner Treatment to Control Aging

Taking care of your copper sink yourself is a good way to keep it from getting too tarnished. To keep the sink looking like new, use a copper cleaner every once in a while.

It is an important part of making sure your copper sink keeps its new look for longer. Be sure to wear gloves and any other safety equipment when cleaning the sink, including safety goggles and a mask.

Make sure there is plenty of ventilation and use the manufacturer’s instructions and contact them if you need any help or clarification. Always remember to wash the sink and dry after.

What Not to Use to Clean a Copper Sink

Cleaning and maintaining a sink made of copper is a lot easier than most people imagine. It is actually more important to realize the things that you shouldn’t do and all the products that can potentially damage your copper sink. 

Tools and items to Never Use on Copper

Copper is a great material for sinks and is easy to maintain and clean. However, there are some items you need to avoid using when cleaning a copper sink. Below is a list of the items to avoid.

  • Harsh cleaners
  • Chemicals containing bleach
  • Drain cleaners
  • Steel wool
  • Scrubbing pads with an abrasive surface

To Patina or Not to Patina

Copper Bathroom Sink Green Aged Patina Vessel Undermount Top Mount Household Renovating Round Bowl Distressed Antique Verde Patina Shape

Due to the nature of Copper, the surface colors are always changing, making it a very visually malleable material. Certain parts of the sink may fade, while others may either get darker or not change at all. This is not an uncommon occurrence and is the primary reason that this organically rustic pattern is so sought after. This particular discoloration of the metal is called patina.

Metals such as copper and bronze will start to become darker due to oxidation as they react with the oxygen present in the air. The surface gets darker as it protects itself from being worn down by use. So if you’re using your copper sink a lot, you can expect it to get darker over time.

Patina Do’s And Don’ts Of Patina

The patina on a copper sink happens naturally over time. Things like what you eat and drink and how you clean your sink can all affect how the patina develops. Some things will make the patina develop more quickly, while others can cause it to strip away.

If you see spots in the patina, it doesn’t mean that your copper sink is deteriorating in any way. The patina will eventually change and fuse with the other colors on your sink.

The items below can strip the patina from your copper sink:

  • Foods that are acidic (like lemons, tomatoes, ketchup, coke, chips, etc.)
  • Make-up or cosmetics (shaving cream, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Bleach-based chemicals (hair dye, beard dye)
  • Even if you touch the copper surface with your fingers, you can leave the oil on it, which will affect the patina over time.

If you accidentally put one of these things in your sink, don’t worry! Remove the item immediately, washing away any leftover residue using one of the methods mentioned above, as it is not good for the patina. That being said, the shine would return to the sink after a week or two, leaving your sink looking great again.

Managing the Patina

There are things you can do to control how the patina on your copper sink changes over time and to help give it a more uniform finish. However, it is important to note that the patina is completely natural and cannot be manipulated to achieve the exact required look.

  1. Step one is to regularly clean your copper sink with soapy water, using a microfibre cloth or a soft sponge. As mentioned before, do not use any chemical cleaners or steel wool to scrub the sink surface…
  2. Protect the surface of the sink by using a wax finish. The wax will help keep the sink from getting damaged, and it will also let the sink change color over time. There are plenty of copper wax products available depending on the type of finish of your sink and the finish you are looking to maintain.

Maintenance Tips

You can usually take care of most problems by cleaning and taking care of your copper sink, but sometimes you might need some extra help.

Light spots

Small light spots are indications of acidic food being left in the sink for a little longer than it should have. This is not a major concern, as the patina will even out in due course.

However, if you want to speed the process along, then use a slightly hard brush and softly scrub the dark areas with some lukewarm water and a gentle soap mix, allowing the light and dark patina colors to blend in. 

Green spots

If water pools around the sink faucet or drain for an extended amount of time, it might start to develop some green spots around these areas. These are mineral deposits that react with the copper and turn green and can be removed using a cloth or sanded off with very fine-grated sandpaper.

Simply wipe the sink down after using it. Never use wire wool or anything else made out of metal or too hard to scratch off the marks, as this can damage the look. Some soaps can also cause these green marks if left alone.

Dark spots

Similar to the green spots mentioned above, copper sinks can get dark brown spots that appear on the surface. The cause is generally water with high mineral content and can be either with a wipe of a cloth or by scraping the spots with a green scarab.

Once again, keeping your sink dry by wiping it with a microfiber cloth after every use will not only preserve your sink but keep it looking beautiful for years to come.

Conclusion

No matter if your sink is raw copper that will age over time, pre-treated copper with a patina, or shiny lacquered copper, taking care of it is simple as long as you avoid harmful cleaners. They do require no more maintenance than any other type of sink, but it is definitely worth the trouble.

Copper has an extremely organic finish, and no two copper sinks are alike. The meals, memories, and occasions that you and your sink experience will change it and evolve its look unlike any other material.

If you are the lucky owner of a copper sink, then go ahead and enjoy your sink. Use the above tips to care for and maintain your sink to make it look and last for many, many years.

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