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How to Clean Copper Mugs

How to Clean Copper Mugs

For a natural copper cleaner, dip half a lemon in a bit of salt and polish each of your copper mugs for 3-4 minutes. Once your mugs are back to their original shine, rinse them and then dry them thoroughly with a clean cotton cloth, making sure to get rid of all traces of moisture that could oxidize and darken the copper.


Moscow mules are a refreshing summertime cocktail, particularly when they are served in chilled over-sized Moscow mule copper mugs. If you have invested in these fun copper cups and used them a time or two you may now be wondering how to keep them shiny and spot free.

Simple, fast and environmentally safe method for cleaning your Moscow mule mugs.

Did your Moscow mule cups look like this when you bought them?

Simple, fast and environmentally safe method for cleaning your Moscow mule mugs.And now do they look like this?

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Three tips to keeping your copper mugs ship shape:

Simple, fast and environmentally safe method for cleaning your Moscow mule mugs.


1. Lemon and salt

A half of lemon dipped in a bit of salt will polish your copper Moscow mule mugs up in no time and return them to their original splendor. In fact lemon and salt work for polishing any copper serving or cookware you have. It's a quick, effective and ecologically sound way to care for your copper.

Simple, fast and environmentally safe method for cleaning your Moscow mule mugs.

Here is the same cup after a few seconds of rubbing with the lemon dipped in salt.

Simple, fast and environmentally safe method for cleaning your Moscow mule mugs.

And here is the mug completely polished.

Simple, fast and environmentally safe method for cleaning your Moscow mule mugs.

And here are both mugs good as new. Cleaning your copper with salt and lemon is fast and involves no harsh chemicals for your hands, your home or the environment. Vinegar and baking soda can also be used.

2. Double dry

Once your copper mugs are shiny and bright, rinse them and thoroughly dry them. And I mean thoroughly. Any moisture left on the mug will cause oxidation or darkening of the copper. This is particularly true with hammered copper as moisture can cling in the divots. I dry my mugs once with one cotton cloth. Then get a second dry cloth and dry them again.

3. Never put in the dishwasher

This probably didn't need saying, but just in case, the two things you NEVER put in the dishwasher are copper and good knives.

Moscow mule recipes

One of the things I like about Moscow mules is they are simple to make. I have a few fun variations, however, that are worth trying.

Looking for Moscow mule mugs?

There are a variety of different shapes, sizes and finishes for copper Moscow mule mugs. We prefer the larger 16 to 20-ounce mugs. Click here to see our favorites.



  1. maryann says:

    Dear Sr
    Please help me
    after I clean the moscow-mule-mugs with lemon and salt twice, and baking soda + salt done I washed the cold water when I dried It’s not come the shiny like the way I want I ….

    Please let me know what do you do after lemon and salt twice, and baking soda + salt ???

    thank you very much 🙂

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Maryann, Hmmm…lemon and salt or lemon and baking powder have always worked for me. The key is to dry very thoroughly afterwards or any remaining moisture will just start the tarnishing process again. I have read you can put 1 cup of vinegar and 1 T salt in a pot add water and put the copper item into the pot, bring to a boil and continue boiling until the tarnish is removed. I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS, so proceed with caution. See wikihow for several different methods of cleaning copper.

      One question I have is are you sure your mugs are copper? Or maybe just a copper plate? Or maybe there is a coating over the copper? All these things could be a factor.

  2. Gary says:

    Hopefully this thread is still being monitored; but is there a solution for someone that put them in a dishwasher. My mule cups came out with light colored spots on them and Barskeep does not remove them, nor this sea salt/lemon method. Thanks in advance….

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Gary,

      I am sorry, but I don’t have another cleaning solution for you. The dishwasher probably wasn’t a great idea and the plating is probably another factor. If I were you I would shine up your mug as best you can, make yourself a Moscow mule and not worry about the spots. I bet your cocktail will taste every bit as good in your well-loved mugs as a nice new shiny mug. : )

  3. Gary says:

    P.S. mine are copper plated over stainless steel. A few of the mugs have the same spots on the steel, so my fear is that the spot are where the copper plating has been compromised.

  4. Jtap says:

    It worked like magic. Thx

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Good to hear. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. Dana says:

    I wiped my mugs with a paper towel with a little nail polish remover to remove some very stubborn glue, now they look cloudy, anyway I can fix this?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Dana,

      So sorry to hear about your mugs. Have you gone at it with some lemon and salt? I would try that first. If that doesn’t work, there are companies that specialize in metal refinishing. In my neighborhood I use Normandy Metal Refinishers. They have fixed sterling silver for me that met a nasty end in the garbage disposal and they do refinish copper. It is not cheap so I would consider the cost to replace vs the cost to refinish. Good luck to you!

  6. Sharon Johnson says:

    Worked great!! Thank you for the tip. I put my copper mugs in the dishwasher! They are good as new. Thanks!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Wow! In the dishwasher? That could be life-changing! Did you use my method before or after?

  7. Malka says:

    For the perfect shine. after drying it fully, just rub little oil- just 2/3 drops fr each mug ( any cooking oil) with a cloth and it will look brand new.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      I will definitely try this! Thank you.

  8. Malka says:

    Will salt and lemon method works if the mugs are very dark from inside. outside they look perfect.
    please advise.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Malka, It is hard for me to tell without seeing the mugs. If the mugs are solid copper, the salt and lemon should work every where.

  9. vickie says:

    I have had no problems cleaning my mugs. However, how can I store them to keep them from re-tarnishing?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Vickie, The first thing to do is to dry your mugs really well. Use a cotton cloth and dry them once. Then use a second cotton cloth and dry them again. Any residual moisture will lead to tarnishing. The next thing to do is to store them in a cool, dry place. I know someone who stores theirs in the freezer. I don’t know how well this keeps them from tarnishing, but it does make for a nice chilled mug any time you need one. You also might try wrapping them in a soft cloth, like flannel. In my experience, some mugs stay untarnished better than others. I am not sure why.

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