Depending on the look you want for your copper kitchen sink, maintenance will either be very easy or slightly more involved. To the point:
- If you allow the patina to develop, maintenance involves keeping it clean as you would stainless steel, cast iron or porcelain
- If you plan to maintain the sink’s lustrous gleam, then periodic use of a copper cleaner and some moderate effort will be required
What is Copper Patina?
All metals oxidize, even stainless steel. On iron, the oxidation takes the form of rust. On copper, the oxidation forms what is called patina, a darkening of the metal with a range of hues from rosy to brown.
Patina gives the copper character and an antique or Old World look. A sink that is kept polished is brighter and has a more contemporary appearance. See our Copper Sink Pinterest page for pictures of both types of finish to see which one fits your design ideas.
Whether you allow the patina to develop is strictly a matter of preference, since there are no durability or sanitation differences between sinks with or without patina.
Here are copper sink cleaning tips for either type sink.
How to Clean and Maintain a Copper Sink with Patina
A sink with patina is very easy to clean and maintain. Here’s how:
- For daily cleaning, use a mild dish soap and water with a soft cloth or sponge, and thoroughly rinse the sink to avoid leaving a soap film that would cloud the finish
- Wipe out the sink with a dry, soft towel periodically to keep water spots or mineral deposits from forming – a technique also suggested by most stainless steel sink manufacturers
- The harder your water is, the more often you should dry it after use or wipe it out to prevent spots and deposits
How to Clean and Maintain a Copper Sink with Luster
Homeowners who want a shiny sink and have a little time for giving it TLC often enjoy the process of caring for their copper:
- For daily care, follow the same tips given above for sinks with patina
- To maintain or restore the gleam in your copper, use as needed a copper cleaner recommended by the sink manufacturer or your installer, and follow directions
Dos and Don’ts of Copper Sink Care
Beyond these basic copper sink cleaning tips, here is how to care for your copper sink long-term. The list seems long, but there is nothing difficult here, just a few simple reminders:
- Use a copper wax recommended by your sink manufacturer or installer to slow down the development of patina – if you want to (typically done more often with sinks that will be kept shiny, but wax will also allow patina to develop more consistently)
- Two excellent wax products for copper sinks are Copper Armor by Sinkology and Renaissance Wax
- Never use cleaners with harsh chemicals including those with bleach or abrasives
- Never use steel wool or other abrasive pads or materials (for example, don’t use a knife to scrape off food dried on the copper)
- Soften dried foods for easier removal by soaking a paper towel or cloth and covering the food for just a few minutes (since leaving it on longer might affect the patina)
- Consider placing a sink grate with soft feet in the bottom of the sink to protect it from dents and scratches
- Don’t leave a rubber mat, sponge, cloth or anything else in the sink that will hold water against the finish, because this will likely cause color changes to the patina or copper luster
- Don’t leave pots, pans, silverware or other metal objects in the sink, because they might react with the copper and cause stains
- Don’t allow acidic foods or liquids (citrus, tea, coffee, tomato products, soda, juice, wine) to sit on the copper for long because they will lighten the patina
- If the patina is lightened, the area should regain the patina in a few days to a few weeks and blend with the rest
- If the patina doesn’t come back as quickly as you’d like, treat the light area with a solution of 1 teaspoon of salt dissolved in ¼ cup of ammonia dabbed onto the finish with a soft cloth or cotton swab, and allow it to dry for an hour, repeating as needed to sufficiently darken the area
A helpful reminder about light areas: Sinkology, a producer of copper kitchen and bath sinks, gives this sage advice that will help you stay calm if light spots occur, “if you accidentally leave toothpaste in the bath sink or forget to wash out the food from last night’s dinner, you will notice a change in the copper finish. This will inevitably happen and is completely normal. So, when it does happen, take a deep breath, sit back, relax and let the patina process take over.”
Copper Kitchen Sink Care and Maintenance FAQ
This copper sink care Q&A covers other topics that might be helpful to you.
I’ve heard you shouldn’t use drain opener in your copper sink. What if it gets clogged?
What you’ve heard is definitely what sink producers recommend. Your options for a clogged sink include:
- Using a funnel in the drain to very carefully pour in sink opener without getting it on the copper
- If it does get on the copper, rinse it away immediately
- Use a plunger to force open the drain
- Take the drain apart from beneath to remove the clog
- Call a plumber to do the job
Does adding wax affect the antimicrobial nature of copper?
Yes, it does. The wax forms a barrier between the microbes and the copper. However, don’t let this keep you from using wax if you otherwise would. No other popular sink material is antimicrobial. Clean a waxed copper sink as you would a porcelain, granite composite or stainless steel sink, with a mild cleaner and warm water, and any bacteria will be washed away.
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