Is Copper Cookware Dishwasher Safe? Your Guide to Proper Cleaning

Whether you’re an avid home cook or just getting into the kitchen, you’ve likely heard about copper cookware. 

This highly sought-after material is known for its ability to conduct and retain heat and also for being durable enough to last through multiple generations of use.

 For these reasons, copper cookware has grown in popularity over the past few decades — but many people are unsure if it’s safe to put their prized pots and pans in the dishwasher (which can often be quite harsh).

You should really wash all copper cookware by hand. Your dishwasher can discolor your copper. 

What Does “Dishwasher Safe” Mean?

When you’re shopping for cookware, you may notice that some pieces are labeled “dishwasher safe.” This means that they can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher. However, just because something is labeled as such does not mean that it’s also durable or made from high-quality materials.

The terms “durable” and “dishwasher safe” are not regulated by any government body; therefore, there is no universal definition of these terms across manufacturers’ labels. 

Some companies consider their products to be both durable and dishwasher safe while others do not–it all depends on their own internal standards of durability and what they believe constitutes proper care instructions for their products (which could vary depending on individual brands).

The label “dishwasher safe” states that the item in question has been treated in a specific way that allows it to endure the high temperatures that come with a dishwasher cycle, as well as the harsh detergents. 

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Are Copper Cookware Dishwasher Safe?

Copper cookware is not dishwasher safe. A dishwasher’s high temperatures, chemical agents, and harsh vibrations can damage copper cookware.

Copper is an excellent conductor of heat and that’s why it’s so popular in kitchen appliances such as kettles and pans. However, this same quality makes copper vulnerable to damage from dishwashers because they use very hot water (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit) with detergent to clean dishes inside the machine before cycling through another rinse cycle with cold tap water for sanitization purposes. 

The combination of these two factors can cause discoloration or corrosion on your favorite pots and pans if you wash them in a dishwasher instead of hand-washing them!

How to Tell if a Cookware Dish is Dishwasher Safe?

To determine whether or not a cookware dish is dishwasher safe, look for the dishwasher-safe symbol on the packaging. If you don’t see it, check with the manufacturer’s instructions or contact them directly to see if they can tell you more about their product.

Most pots and pans will have an engraving on the handle to let you know if they can go in the dishwasher. Look for something like a square box that shows images of dishes inside. More often these images are accompanied by a squiggly line or water drops.

It’s also important to note that some materials may discolor over time when exposed to heat and harsh chemicals in your dishwasher (such as chlorine). If this happens, try washing your copper cookware by hand instead of putting it through another cycle in the machine–you might find that doing so helps preserve its appearance!

What Type of Cookware Materials Can You Put in a Dishwasher?

Can Go in the Dishwasher

  • Ceramics: plates, mugs, bowls
  • Pyrex glassware including mixing bowls and baking dishes
  • Metal baking pans (no non-stick coatings)
  • Silicone and metal utensils (no aluminum)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Stainless steel items

Can’t Go in the Dishwasher

  • Cast Iron. Putting cast iron in the dishwasher will not only remove your seasoning but can cause serious rust problems.
  • Wood. The combination of heat and humidity will cause most wood products to warp and crack
  • China and Crystal. Delicate items like these aren’t designed to withstand the heat.
  • Aluminum. The harsh detergents will scratch the finish of aluminum pans and make them dull. Depending on the pot or pan, they can also warp in these types of temperatures. 
  • Non-stick pans. The high temperature can wear away the coating on these pans.
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How to Properly Clean Copper Cookware

To properly clean copper cookware, you should:

Salt and Vinegar Scrub

Step 1: Coat the pan in salt

Salt is a great (and ancient) cleaning agent to get those stubborn spots of your pot without damaging the finish, or discoloring it.

Coat the surface of your copper pan with salt.

Step 2: Add Vinegar

Add a little bit of white vinegar to the salt and add a little more salt on top. Let it sit.

Step 3: Watch the Chemical Reaction

After a few seconds, the chemical reaction will begin. Salt and vinegar are powerful cleaning agents. Wait for a little and let the combination start working on any stuck on mess.

Step 4: Scrub with Vinegar

Add a little white vinegar to your sponge. Scrubbing your pan with a little more vinegar will only help get it really clean and shiny. 

Step 5: More Salt

Add more salt to the sides of the pan. In this case, you can never have too much salt. You’ll need to scrub the sides with your vinegar-soaked sponge. The soaking process likely didn’t do much on the side for you. 

Step 6: Rinse

Rinse off the pan with some water. Check and make sure you got everything. If you missed a spot, add a little more salt and scrub again. 

Lemon and Salt

If you want some dull copper to really shine, consider cleaning it with lemon and salt. 

Step 1: Cut Your Lemon

Cut a lemon in half. Add salt to the freshly cut surfaces. 

Step 2: Scrub

Use the sliced lemon halves to rub over the surfaces of your pan. 

Step 3: Make a paste for the stubborn spots

Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl and add salt. Use this paste to address areas with grease and tough stains. Rub the paste onto the pan to remove the remaining grime.

Step 4: Rinse

Using warm water, rinse your pan of lemon and salt. Dry thoroughly for a shiny, bright pot. 

Baking Soda

If you don’t have the salt and lemons, baking soda is a great cleaning alternative. Especially combined with vinegar. Not only is this combination great for your copper pans, but your stovetop grates too.

Ketchup

You may have seen all the viral videos about cleaning your metals with ketchup. The vinegar content in ketchup does make it a nice cleaning alternative.

Squeeze a small amount of ketchup onto a clean cloth and rub it into your pots and pans. You’ll be surprised how fast your pots return to their bright, shiny copper color. 

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Beer

Beer has a decent amount of acidity that’s helpful for cleaning copper pans. The copper vats in breweries were once cleaned with beer. 

Let the pot soak in the beer for a while. Then it’s a matter of wiping it away. Or combine this with any of the other methods for sparkly pans.

Tomato Paste and Salt

This combination is just as good as any copper cleaner you could buy at the store.

Step 1: Make the paste

Mix two parts tomato paste with one part coarse salt. 

Step 2: Rub

Rub your mixture onto the copper pan. Once covered, let it sit for a few minutes.

Step 3: Buff

Buff off your paste with a soft cloth.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Rinse your pot with warm water and then dry it thoroughly. If you let it air dry, you’ll end up with water spots. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best cleaner for copper pots?

A homemade option is a paste of lemon juice and baking soda. Stir together to make a thick paste. Apply to the surface of your copper and buff it with a soft, clean cloth. Rinse with warm water. If there are still spots, repeat the steps until you’re happy with the results. 

For commercial options, Wright’s Copper Cream uses a combination of citric acid and ammonium chloride. It’s mild and won’t scratch the surface of your copper. In addition, it leaves a protective coating behind. 

How do you deep clean a copper pan?

There are two options for the best results: salt and vinegar or a stainless steel cleaner. The acidic nature of the cleaners will remove the oxidation or tarnish and restore the bright shine of your pots. 

What cleans copper the fastest?

Vinegar or ketchup will give you the fastest results. If it’s a small piece you’re trying to clean then try a boil. 

Boil three cups of water and add a cup of vinegar and one tablespoon of salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved and then soak the copper item in the water. This is one of the best ways to remove tarnish as the heat adds another layer of effort. 

Conclusion

Dishwashers are great for cleaning your dishes, but they can also damage your cookware if it’s not properly cared for. Do not put your copper pots and pans in the dishwasher. They are one of the handful of kitchen items that should never go in the dishwasher. 

As long as you know what type of material your pots and pans are made from, then you should be able to clean them in a dishwasher without any issues!

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