How To Keep Copper Pipes Shiny? [Plus Natural Methods & Oxidation Prevention]

Copper is a good choice for pipes because the material has rust- and corrosion-resisting properties. But this material can tarnish and look dull over time, leading to reduced aesthetics. Now you’re wondering how to maintain the shininess of your copper pipes. Also, what do you need for the maintenance job? We researched for your convenience how to keep your copper bright.

Keep copper pipes bright by preparing a homemade mixture of lemon and salt. Once prepared, continue with the following steps:

  1. Use a cloth dipped into the mixture and rub it briskly onto the copper pipe.
  2. Remove stubborn stains or tarnishes by adding a small amount of white vinegar.
  3. Clean the surface with warm water.
  4. Apply copper wax to help seal the material.

This cleaning and maintenance job might look relatively straightforward at first. But miss a few details and you might ruin the copper pipe’s finish. Keep reading to know the vital details of this task. We’ll also talk about other things like how to prevent oxidation on copper.

An electrician installing a copper pipe into the radiator of the central heater, How To Keep Copper Pipes Shiny? [Plus Natural Methods & Oxidation Prevention]

How Does Copper Become Dull?

Copper is a reactive metal that can adversely respond to oxygen. Copper oxide will form when the two components mix, resulting in a dull black or brown color. In many cases, this process is reversible by using certain cleaning methods.

A rusted copper pipe installed in the brick wall

How Do You Keep Copper Pipes Bright?

Keeping copper pipes shiny doesn't often require harsh chemicals. You may still use commercially prepared metal cleaning products. Otherwise, removing tarnish from copper pipes usually only needs some reasonably common household ingredients.

Still, make sure to practice proper safety for this task. Some necessary items, such as lemon, might cause pain, especially when you have a small cut or injury on your skin. So you should wear safety gear like gloves before proceeding with this operation.

Shinny copper pipes with different sizes stockpiles

Once you’re geared up, here are more tools you need and the steps you need to follow for this copper cleaning project:

What You’ll Need

  • Lemon juice and salt mixture
  • Cloths or sponges
  • Small bowl
  • White vinegar
  • Copper cleaner and polisher

Step-by-Step Guide to Shine Copper

  1. Mix lemon juice with salt in a small bowl. Make sure to keep the ratio at 3:1, with the lemon juice having the higher content proportion.
  2. Dip a cloth or sponge into the mixture. Then, rub it vigorously on the copper pipes.
  3. If you come across stubborn stains or tarnishes, add a cup of white vinegar to the mixture. Then, rub the copper pipe again.
  4. Once you’re satisfied with the results, rinse the pipe with lukewarm water.
  5. Dip another clean cloth or sponge a copper cleaning and polishing solution. Apply the product on the pipe’s surface to protect it from tarnishing.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t touch the copper pipe with your bare hands. Your natural oils can almost immediately ruin the cleaning job. Additionally, pay attention to the instructions of your preferred copper wax. Certain products may require a 2-hour drying time before you can apply extra coatings.

Check out this copper cleaner and polish on Amazon.

How Do You Stop The Oxidation Of Copper?

Copper can be susceptible to oxidization when exposed to airborne particulates like oxygen and water. If left unchecked, gradual decay hastens, which may cause further corrosion. Thankfully, you can protect objects made with this metal material by using certain products like:


Vaseline is a petroleum jelly commonly used for its skin-healing benefits. It helps by locking moisture in the skin, but you can also use it to prevent copper from oxidizing.

You can apply a reasonably large amount of this product on the surface of a copper object. But take note that Vaseline may or may not work on some copper surfaces.

In particular, some metal alloys may prevent this greasy substance from working to prevent oxidization. Therefore, think about proceeding to other copper care products if Vaseline doesn’t offer satisfying results.

Check out this product on Amazon.

Spray-On Sealer

A copper spray-on sealer is often readily available on the market. It works similarly to brass lacquer, albeit the spray can provide a more convenient to apply onto copper surfaces.

Take note that these sealers may not last for extended periods. In turn, you may need to reapply the product frequently to prevent copper from corroding.

Check out this copper-protecting spray on Amazon.


Acetone is a colorless chemical compound generally used in the manufacturing of plastics, fibers, medicines, and nail polishes. It’s also possible to remove constituents from copper with this substance. However, important factors need to be present.

For instance, the acetone needs to be pure, which means you can’t use the compound if it’s only an ingredient of another product (e.g., nail polish). Plus, you need to pay attention to the amount you put on the copper surface. If you apply the chemical compound liberally, you might promote oxidation instead of preventing it.

Check out this product on Amazon.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is also a good option for preventing oxidation on copper. However, this product's usability is often for specific scenarios only. It works best in removing potential corrosion from paint that might be on the metal's surface.

Also, make sure not to apply more thinner on copper than necessary, or else you might scrape off the metal surface. If you wish to go this route, only apply a reasonably small amount of thinner onto the material. Then, let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes before wiping it with a clean cloth.

Check out this product on Amazon.

Additional Information

One of the key methods to prevent oxidizing copper is to look for the source of the potential problem. Watch the video below to learn how to stop iron and other substances from eating your home’s copper objects:

How To Clean Copper Naturally?

Different kinds of spices contained in jars and a big copper pot on the back

Removing filth from copper generally only demands a mixture of table salt and white vinegar. Take note that these ingredients may only remove light to medium dirt and gunk on the metal. You need to apply more potent products to eliminate tougher spots and stains.

Once you have those two household components ready, proceed to the following steps:

  1. Place all the copper pieces in the container. Remember, the size of the container depends on the dimension of your copper pieces.
  2. Sprinkle the salt and add the white vinegar to the container. Don't be shy to apply these components liberally because you need to ensure that the vinegar submerges the copper.
  3. Let everything sit for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse off the mixture from the coppers’ surfaces with lukewarm water.
  5. Wipe the copper pieces dry with a clean cloth.

You can also watch the video below to see the steps mentioned above in action:

Should I Worry About Green Copper Pipes?

Copper can turn green can verify the existence of leaks in the plumbing system. Green spots or streaks in copper can come from corrosion.

Oxidizing acids, such as ammonia and sulfur, can cause corrosion to set into copper pipes. In particular, copper getting in contact with high sulfur levels can cause the metal surface to emit a dark green shade.

It can also mean that the copper pipes attracted certain incompatible substances like galvanized steel. Corrosion is also more apparent on low-quality copper than its superior counterparts.

Are Copper Pipes 100% Copper?

Copper pipes often come from a pure variant of their main metal component. But take note that some pipes don't come from pure copper.

Certain plumbing fixtures may originate from recycled or scrap copper, which contains impurities. These contaminants pose threats to the main metal material, increasing the risks of corrosion and other problems.

For more information about the construction of copper pipes, read this post:" Is A Copper Pipe Made Of Pure Copper?"

How Long Should Copper Pipes Last?

Copper pipes generally last about 20 to 50 years, depending on their types and build qualities. In turn, thin copper plumbing fixtures may not last as long as their thicker counterparts.

Additionally, certain factors may adversely affect the life expectancy of the material. These elements can include the surrounding area and the connected water supply’s pH level.

Continue learning more about this particular topic by reading this post: "How Long Do Copper Pipes Last And When To Replace Them?"

Final Words

You have the option to maintain a copper pipe’s shininess by using homemade techniques or commercially-prepared products. If you go with the former choice, you may only need to use a lemon and salt mixture to help preserve the metal’s luster. But you might still need stronger products to eliminate tough stains.

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