Copper cookware brings a warm, welcoming glow to any home. But when your pots and pans get tarnished and rusty over time, it can make the whole kitchen look like it’s seen better days. Luckily, there’s an easy way to polish copper, and your secret ingredient is probably in your fridge right now.
Ketchup — yes, ketchup — works as a quick-clean method to bring your copper cookware back to life. The only other items you need are a soft cloth and water. Cleaning expert Leslie Reichert revealed to Martha Stewart that a simple rubbing method does the trick. “You can use ketchup and spread it all around the copper,” she says. “The acid in the tomatoes will remove the tarnish. After rubbing it all around the item, make sure to thoroughly rinse.” Then just dry it off — and that’s it!
While most light stains should come off right away, some heavier marks may require you to leave the ketchup on for up to 10 minutes, according to Blackhawk Hardware. Let your cookware absorb the condiment for that period of time, and then rinse it off thoroughly as you would with smaller stains. Be sure the cloth you use to clean it is non-abrasive, the last thing you want to do is risk ruining the surface of your cookware right after polishing it!
According to Taste of Home, the reason why this cleaning hack works so well has to do with copper’s natural reactions. Copper tends to react to exposure to air over time by developing a layer of copper oxide, which can give your precious cookware that icky tarnished look. But guess what? That same pesky oxide dissolves when exposed to a blend of weak acid and table salt, the essential ingredients in ketchup.
This hack undoubtedly works best for copper cookware that’s still relatively clean with a bit of early bronzing, according to House Copper Cookware. If the copper is blackened, burned, or severely oxidized, it may simply be time to invest in new pots and pans. But if the tarnished copper is just being a bit stubborn, consider adding a bit of vinegar and flour to the ketchup to make a thicker paste. Leave it on until it gets tacky, and then wash it off completely.
And hopefully, you can say hello to that beautiful glow once again!