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How to Clean Copper Mugs

As the number of Moscow mule aficionados rises, those majestic copper mugs hanging behind your bar are sure to see more use. Metal cups don’t just add a rustic touch to your barware. As thermal conductors, they can keep a dark ‘n’ stormy chilled in the summer or a mulled cider warm in the fall. Not surprisingly, copper mugs require unique care. Follow the guide below for correct cleaning and shining techniques, so you can maximize the safety of your guests and the longevity of your copper mugs.

Cleaning Copper Mugs

Cleaning Copper Mugs

Below, we have outlined how to wash copper mugs. Be sure to have appropriate supplies to clean Moscow mule mugs properly.

What You Need to Clean Copper Mugs

For washing: It is best to use mild dish soap and a soft sponge to avoid corroding or scratching the metal.

For drying: Use a soft cotton or hemp cloth to dry your copper mugs, not polyester or synthetic cloths, as they may scratch the surface.

How to Wash Copper Mugs

  1. With a soft sponge, mild soap, and warm water, scrub your copper mug in circular motions until debris and other grime are gone.
  2. Rinse mug with warm water to remove soap and particles.
  3. Dry mug thoroughly with a soft dishtowel.
  4. Dry mug again with a second dishtowel. *

*Any leftover water or dampness can result in oxidation and tarnishing of your copper mugs, so a second drying is essential to preserve shine and keep the copper intact.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper Mugs

Over time, your copper mugs are likely to develop tarnishes and patina because copper naturally reacts with oxygen in the air. If you want to revitalize the charming glow of your copper mugs, you can easily care for copper mugs with products in your kitchen.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper with Lemon and Salt

  1. Pour 4 tablespoons of salt in a shallow bowl.
  2. Cut a lemon into fourths.
  3. Dip the slices into the salt until completely covered.
  4. Scrub the inside and outside of the mug with salt-covered lemon slices in a circular motion.
  5. Rinse with water.
  6. Dry twice thoroughly with separate soft dishtowels.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper with Vinegar and Baking Soda

  1. Create a paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part vinegar.
  2. Using a sponge, cover the mug with the paste.
  3. Allow paste to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Scrub mug with sponge using a circular motion to remove tarnish.
  5. Rinse with water.
  6. Dry twice thoroughly with separate soft dishtowels.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper with Vinegar, Salt, and Water

  1. Mix one cup of vinegar with one tablespoon of salt and four to five cups of water.
  2. Place the copper mug into the pot, and bring water to a boil.
  3. Leave boiling until tarnish falls away from the copper.
  4. Remove with tongs.
  5. If needed, scrub more with a cloth or soft brush.
  6. Rinse and dry twice thoroughly with separate soft dishtowels.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper with Ketchup

Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe?

  1. Apply ketchup with soft brush or balled-up cloth.
  2. Let sit for 10-30 minutes.
  3. Remove ketchup with cloth by scrubbing in circles. Use a toothbrush for substantial tarnishes or small crevices.
  4. Rinse with water.
  5. Dry twice thoroughly with separate soft dishtowels.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper with Metal Polish

  1. Apply a liberal amount of metal polish to a soft cloth or directly onto copper mug.
  2. Wipe off with a soft, dry cloth.
  3. Buff out with soft, clean cloth to increase luster.

Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe?

Copper mugs are generally not dishwasher safe. Many copper cups have a lining or food safe lacquer in place to protect the copper and prevent potential copper exposure to your patrons. Dishwashers use harsh soap, washing, and heating techniques, which can easily weaken linings or coatings. Not only will your cupper mugs tarnish and look weathered, but they may also pose a small but unlikely risk to your patrons. For these reasons, it is important to wash coated or lined copper mugs by hand.

Unlined Copper Mugs

A 100% pure, unlined copper mug is the original Moscow mule accessory. Technically, they are dishwasher safe because they have no lining that would corrode. However, we still highly recommend hand washing unlined copper mugs to preserve quality, as they are a delicate object susceptible to dents and tarnishing. Drinking Moscow mules from pure, unlined copper mugs is generally safe, though concerns have been raised in the past.

Lined Copper Mugs

Many copper mugs are copper-plated over nickel, stainless steel, or tin, or are lined with those materials. This extra support makes the mug more durable and eradicates any exposure to copper, provided they are properly washed by hand. If these copper mugs are not cleaned by hand, the lining may crack or flake in a dishwasher.


No matter which type of mug you choose, be sure to hand wash your copper cups, dry them thoroughly, and polish them as desired. With proper care, your guests can always enjoy a tasty cocktail from a classic copper mug.

Posted in: Foodservice Trends | Cleaning Tips | Bars & Breweries | By Hannah Herrera
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