Making a cold drink in copper mugs

How To Clean Copper Mugs: A Step-By-Step Guide

Making a cold drink in copper mugs

Any real cocktail expert will tell you that using the proper glassware is just as essential as using the proper recipe. Any true devotee of the Moscow Mule will attest that a high-quality copper mug is an essential part of enjoying this particular drink.

Although copper is expensive, durable and tarnish resistant, it will eventually oxidize and lose its lustre over time. But cleaning copper mugs with soap and water will keep them in good condition and ready for use again. Keep reading to discover several tips for cleaning your copper mugs.

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Why is Cleaning Copper Mugs Important?

First, you must clean your copper mugs properly for health and safety reasons. No one wants to drink from a cup that has not been washed at home or in a restaurant.

The unique look of a copper mug makes cocktails like the Moscow Mule so popular. This metal naturally tarnishes with time and use, so keeping it clean is essential to keep it shiny and get the most out of its many benefits.

How to Safely Clean Copper Mugs

When caring for copper drinkware in your home, a few simple steps can help it last a lifetime. Copper is more sensitive than glass, so while glass can survive soaps, detergents, heat, and other chemicals, copper needs extra care when cleaned.

  1. Start by washing the copper in warm water.
  2. Gently scrub the dishes with a sponge and dish soap until all debris is gone.
  3. Rinse again to eliminate the soap residue.
  4. Set aside to air-dry after thoroughly drying the copper with your first towel.
  5. Using the second towel, dry the copper once more, ensuring no moisture remains in cracks or crevices.

How do we remove oxidation from copper?

A slightly oxidized copper mug with a gemstones

Tarnish is a corrosion layer that develops when metals, such as copper, silver, and brass, are exposed to oxygen, water, and air over time. It is a natural reaction, but it can turn your gleaming copper mugs into dingy and brownish pieces that have lost their brilliance due to dampness, dirt, oils, and harsh chemicals. As a result, the surface of copper can range from aqua-green patina to dark amber.

Copper mugs must be polished every six months with a specific copper cleaner and a microfiber cloth to avoid tarnish. You use copper-friendly cleaning products like Bar Keepers Friend and Wright's Copper Cream.

Natural Ways to Remove Copper Tarnish

You can clean your copper mugs with items found in your kitchen, restoring their alluring luster. Below are different ways you can try.

Using Lemon or Limes and Salt

Lemon and Salt
  1. In a small bowl, combine 4 teaspoons of salt.
  2. Divide a lemon into fourths.
  3. Dip the slices until totally covered with salt.
  4. Scrub the interior and outside of the mug in a circular motion with salt-covered lemon slices.
  5. Rinse well with water.
  6. Dry thoroughly twice with separate soft dish towels.

Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda
  1. Combine 3 parts baking soda and 1 part vinegar to make a paste.
  2. Cover the mug with the paste with a sponge.
  3. Allow 5-10 minutes for the paste to rest.
  4. Scrub the mug in a circular motion with the sponge to remove the tarnish.
  5. Clean with water.
  6. Dry twice with gentle dish towels.
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Using Vinegar, Salt, and Walter

Vinegar, salt and water
  1. Combine one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon salt, and four to five cups of water in a mixing bowl.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in the kettle with the copper mug.
  3. Allow boiling until the tarnish falls away from the copper.
  4. Use tongs to remove.
  5. Scrub with a soft brush or towel as needed.
  6. Rinse and dry thoroughly twice with gentle dish towels.

Using a Ketchup

Ketchup bottle
  1. Apply ketchup with a delicate brush or a balled-up cloth.
  2. Allow sitting for 10-30 minutes.
  3. Remove ketchup with a piece of fabric by scrubbing it in circles. 
  4. For severe tarnishing or narrow crevices, use a toothbrush.
  5. Rinse with water.
  6. Dry thoroughly twice with gentle dish towels.

Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe?

Young woman putting a mugs on a dishwasher

Although some copper mugs say they are dishwasher safe, most are lined with nickel or stainless steel. The lining prevents copper from leaching into your beverage. Still, it is also quite fragile and will deteriorate if washed in a dishwasher frequently.

Dishwashers may be harsh on delicate dishes and cups, causing the lining to crack, chip, or flake off with time. When the lining is damaged, heavy metals from the copper can enter your drinks. In addition, the nickel lining can flake off even more, perhaps resulting in small particles in your drinks.

Tips for Caring for Your Copper Mugs

Woman holding a copper mug and bottle

Copper mugs are a great way to keep your cold drinks cool and your hot ones hot. They have been used for thousands of years. They had seen a meteoric rise in popularity since the 1940s when the Moscow Mule was invented.

Here are three essential tips to keep in mind when you are using copper mugs:

  1. If serving drinks, do not let the mixture sit in copper mugs for more than 4 hours.
  2. Wash your copper mugs by hand with soap and water after each use. Dry them thoroughly with two different towel.
  3. If your copper mug starts to tarnish, try polishing it with one of the five easy and natural methods described above.

How to Clean Copper Mugs FAQ

How do you remove tarnish from copper?

To remove tarnish from copper, combine lemon juice and baking soda and stir thoroughly. After mixing, apply the polish to the copper and buff it with a soft cloth in a circular motion. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Can you use dish soap on copper mugs?

Yes, it's best to use mild dish soap and a soft sponge, so you don't scratch or rust your copper mugs. For drying, use a soft cloth made from cotton or hemp, not polyester or synthetic, to avoid scratching the surface.

Is it okay to drink coffee in a copper mug?

It's okay to drink coffee from a copper mug. In fact, you can use a copper mug for all kinds of drinks all year long because it keeps drinks hot or cold for a long time. Since it's so good at transferring heat, you should be careful when serving piping hot drinks on it.

Can you put copper mugs in a dishwasher?

If you want to keep your copper mugs looking shiny, resist the urge to put them in the dishwasher. Using everyday household items, you can clean copper with a copper cleaning kit.


Like other rare treasures in your home, copper mugs require special care. They are especially likely to rust and scratch. If you know how to maintain them properly, you can enjoy their aesthetic beauty for years.

For the best Moscow Mule experience, make sure you use these cleaning methods on copper mugs. The clean and glossy they are, the more you will appreciate the surprising advantages of using copper mugs!

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  • These mugs look amazing. I use similar ones to drink wine from them. Pisces Necklace


    Jessica K

  • Copper mugs are fun, but they actually warm your drinks faster. That’s why you get so much condensation is because the coolness is leaving your drink. It’s a great conductor of heat.



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