How to clean copper tea kettles

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How to clean copper tea kettles
Unsightly, splotchy copper tea kettles actually heat less effectively than clean kettles. (bouilloire en cuivre image by Patrick CRONNE from

Copper teakettles and other copper cookware provide professional and amateur cooks with an ideal material for making all types of food. Copper conducts heat better than most metals and often shortens cooking time significantly. However, those benefits are offset by the fact that copper tarnishes and corrodes easily and requires special care to avoid these complications.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Soft, non-abrasive dish detergent
  • Soft cloth
  • Soft towel
  • Ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar
  • Copper cleaner or polish

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  1. 1

    Wash the copper teakettle with a gentle, non-abrasive dish detergent. Dilute the dish detergent in a sink full of hot water and submerge the teakettle in the soapy water for approximately one minute.

  2. 2

    Rub the teakettle with a soft cloth to remove stuck-on foods and avoid scratching the kettle with an abrasive scrubbing pad. Cleaning the copper kettle immediately after use helps to prevent tea leaves or other food particles from drying and sticking to the teakettle.

  3. 3

    Clean tarnish and stuck-on foods off the teakettle using acidic solutions made from common household materials such as ketchup, lemon juice and vinegar. Cover stuck-on foods and badly tarnished areas on the interior and exterior of the teakettle with the acidic substance and allow it to sit for a minute or longer. The acid will help to knock loose the stuck-on food or severe tarnish.

  4. 4

    Rinse the teakettle in plain water to remove all soapy residues. Immediately dry all water off the kettle with a soft cloth to prevent tarnish and corrosion from developing.

  5. 5

    Apply a copper cleaner or polish to the exterior and interior of the copper teakettle after washing. Ensure that you choose a cleaner or polish approved for use on teakettles you use for cooking and making tea.

Tips and warnings

  • The film that eventually covers copper, known as patina, actually helps to protect the kettle from tarnishing.
  • Never allow any type of copper cookware to air-dry, as this will encourage unsightly water spots that typically require special means to remove.
  • Cleaning a teakettle in a dishwasher may cause pitting, dark spots and dents, so avoid using dishwashers, per instructions from the Cookware Consumer Guide.

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