Moscow Muled

Moscow Muled

How to clean and care for copper mugs: the definitive guide.

How to Clean and Care for Copper Mugs: The Definitive Guide

Oct 15, 2019

In this post, we reveal the complete guide to cleaning and caring for your copper mugs. From how to maximize the lifespan of your mugs to how to ensure that they maintain that brilliant copper shine, we have you covered. Let's get started!

Introduction

Since the creation of the Moscow Mule in the 1940's, copper mugs have never been more popular than they are today. This refreshing cocktail made of lime juice, vodka, and ginger beer is traditionally served over ice in an iconic copper mule mug. No matter what beverage you choose to serve in it, the appeal of the copper mug is hard to deny. As bars, restaurants and at-home use of copper mugs continues to grow in popularity, it is important to know how to properly care for and clean copper. This article will tell you everything you need to know, including:

Why is Cleaning Copper Mugs Important?

Why does copper tarnish.

  • How Do you Clean Copper Mugs?
  • 5 Easy & Natural Ways to Remove Copper Tarnish
  • Is it Safe to Drink from Copper Mugs?

Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe?

  • Lined Versus Unlined Copper Mugs
  • The Benefits of Using Copper Mugs
  • Essential Tips to Care for your Copper Mugs

person wearing blue clothes carrying two Moscow Muled copper mugs in each hand

Like any drinking vessel, copper cups, mugs, water bottles and tumblers need to be washed after every use. Copper does require specific care and maintenance, however it's quite simple and easy to learn and do.

First and foremost, copper mugs should be cleaned properly for health and safety reasons. Whether at a restaurant or at home, you don't want anyone getting sick from drinking from an unwashed cup.

There is something compelling about the warm glow of polished copper. A huge part of the appeal and popularity of cocktails like the Moscow Mule is the unique aesthetic of the copper mug. This metal will tarnish naturally with time and use, so cleaning it properly can be essential to keeping it shiny, and fully experiencing the many benefits of drinking from a copper mug.

upper half of Statue of Liberty against sky background

Like iron developing rust, copper will naturally tarnish  over time with exposure to humidity and other elements found in the air. Copper's blue-green tarnish, known as patina, can be either useful or annoying, depending on its intended use.

The patina actually serves as a protective layer for the copper beneath, and can be useful in outdoor applications such as roofing or pipes.  However, when it comes to mugs or cups, we want the copper to shine as warmly as possible, so it is essential to know about preventative care and maintenance.

Don't worry, it's super easy to do, and incredibly satisfying to restore and polish your tarnished copper mugs.

How Do You Clean Copper Mugs?

Cleaning copper mugs is like cleaning most anything, except that it MUST be washed by hand. In other words, never put them in the dishwasher, ever. Take 30 seconds to gently wash them by hand with a soft sponge, soap and warm water.

For most people at home, this shouldn't be a problem. But some high-volume bars or restaurants might not be able to dedicate the time needed for proper care. This is one reason a business may prefer a tin-lined  or lacquered copper cup that may need less polishing, although they too should still be washed by hand.

The most important part of cleaning your copper mug is drying it!

Residual water in the slightest amount can lead to tarnishing, so experts highly recommend you dry your copper mug twice, with two different soft towels or cloths until all moisture is removed.  This extra step only takes a few moments, and will go a long way towards the durability and cleanliness of your copper mule mugs.

If you want your copper mug to look nice, dry it twice!

5 Easy and Natural Ways to Remove Copper Tarnish

Owning a copper mug comes with the added responsibility of some occasional, simple maintenance. When your favorite mug starts to turn green, here are some easy solutions to restore its natural shine!

Lemon or Limes and Salt

four slices of lemon lined up and sprinkled with salts

This simple method is quick and easy, and ideal for bars or restaurants that may have an abundance of lemons on hand. Simply pour some table or sea salt onto a dish, and cut a fresh lemon or lime into 1/4th slices. Dip the fruit slice into the salt, and scrub the copper mug with slow, methodical circles inside and out. The change should be almost instantaneous, and when the tarnish has been removed, wash under warm or cool water, and dry thoroughly.

Vinegar and Salt

Mix one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon of salt, and five cups of water. Pour the solution into a saucepan, place your mug into the saucepan, and bring it to a boil. After a few minutes, the tarnish will have disappeared, and you can remove the mug with tongs, rinse it in cold water, and dry thoroughly with two soft dish towels.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Create a paste with three parts baking soda, and one part vinegar. Use a sponge to apply it to the mug with small circular motions and let it sit for about 10 minutes in order for the magic to happen. After that, simply rinse and dry until all moisture has been removed.

Harness the power of tomatoes to clean your tarnished copper mug! Apply the ketchup using a soft sponge or toothbrush, always rubbing in small circles. Then let it stand for 30 minutes. Remove the ketchup in the same way you applied it (a specially designated tarnish-toothbrush can be a highly effective tool for getting into those hard to reach places). Finally, rinse with water, and dry thoroughly with two soft towels.

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind is a tropical fruit, popular in Caribbean, African and Indian cuisine. It contains tartaric acid, which helps remove tarnish from brass and copper. If this is something you have access to, simply add water to create a paste, and rub it onto the copper with a soft sponge or cloth.  After a few minutes, rinse off the paste, and dry completely.

Metal Polish

Although the natural methods listed above are all equally effective, inexpensive and safe, another option is to use a tarnish remover or metal polish. Popular brands like Brasso are great for polishing many different kinds of metals, but the main ingredients may be less than desirable (rubbing alcohol, ammonia, mineral spirits and silica powder). Chances are you can easily find most of the ingredients for cleaning copper mugs in your pantry, and can avoid buying a product full of harsh chemicals.

Is It Safe To Drink From Copper Mugs?

Yes, it is safe to drink from copper mugs , despite click-bait headlines, myths and legislation that may suggest otherwise. True, when using 100% pure copper mugs it is possible that trace amounts of copper could be ingested. However, this can be mitigated by using stainless-steel plated copper mugs.

Copper is an essential part of human biology, and is necessary for regulating metabolic systems and vital organs. Copper deficiency can lead to arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and colon cancer.

Not only do our bodies need copper, we also have systems in place to naturally deal with any excess copper. Verified scientific studies have shown copper can do impressive things.

  • Copper and Iron work together to form red blood cells.
  • Copper helps maintain collagen, and along with other antioxidants, can reduce signs of aging.
  • Copper helps absorb excess iron in the liver.
  • Copper improves brain and nerve cell synaptic responses.
  • Copper aids in digestion and helps with ulcers and inflammation.

Copper toxicity is quite rare and, according to the World Health Organization , "There is a greater risk of health effects from a deficiency of copper intake than excessive copper intake."

The FDA guidelines do not recommend using copper for any food or beverage purposes, solely because of the extra care needed to maintain it, and applies exclusively to commercial operations, with varying local and state regulations.

This is meant to protect consumers from improperly cleaned or exposed copper mugs and cookware in bars and restaurants, and does not apply to home use. The FDA suggests the public learn about proper care and maintenance before using copper mugs, but scientists have debunked the claim that a Moscow Mule can give you copper poisoning.

When using 100% pure copper mugs and a liquid with a pH below 6.0 (like lime juice), and that liquid remains in the mug for an extended period of time, there is a chance you could consume amounts of copper. This is the reason why it is generally a good idea to use copper mugs lined with stainless-steel .

No, never! All copper cookware, utensils or mugs should be washed by hand, no exceptions. Dishwashers typically use harsh detergent, powerful water sprays and high heat that can seriously harm your copper mug both inside and out.

Dishwashers can lead to dents, tarnishing, and flaking or cracking. So take 30 seconds to do right by your copper mugs, and wash and dry them by hand!

Lines Versus Unlined Copper Mugs

When purchasing a copper mug, there are three basic options - 100% copper, tin-lined, and copper plated.

Copper is a great thermal conductor, and will keep your drink colder for longer (or hotter for longer, depending on the drinks). This is a big part of what makes the Moscow Mule an attractive summer beverage, and why copper mugs are great for cocktails in general.

Lined copper mugs  (usually with zinc, stainless-steel  or tin) can be a great choice. The double lining improves their durability, and can give them a great look. Unlike pure copper, lined copper mugs also offer additional health benefits by avoiding reactions between acids in your drink and pure copper.

Both lined and unlined copper mugs must be washed by hand and both will develop a patina over time. Lined mugs might take slightly less time to polish, because you only need worry about the outside. However, now that you know how to clean tarnished copper mugs, it's nothing you can't handle.

Essential Tips To Care For Your Copper Mugs

Copper mugs are stylish and good for your health. They keep your cold drinks chilled, and your hot drinks steaming. Copper mugs have been used for thousands of years for water purification and health benefits, and have made a triumphant rise in popularity since the invention of the Moscow Mule in the 1940's.

Whatever you choose to put in your copper mug, remember these three simple tips:

  • When serving drinks, don't let them sit for more than 4 hours. Drink up!
  • After each use, take the time to hand-wash your copper mugs with soap and water, and use TWO TOWELS to dry them thoroughly.
  • When your copper mug begins to tarnish, use one of the five easy and natural ways listed above to polish it to perfection.

Thank you for taking the time to become an expert on using, cleaning and caring for copper mugs. Cheers!

Did You Enjoy This Article?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the following articles:  Why You Should Only Use Moscow Mule Copper Mugs With Stainless Steel Lining and  Which Moscow Mule Copper Mugs Are Best?

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Orthodox Christianity

St. Philaret of Moscow: Daily Prayer and Prayer of the Prisoner

St. Philaret of Moscow

St. Philaret left a voluminous inheritance of what can be truly called patristic works. He also composed prayers, 1 one of which has become a part of many people’s morning prayers . It is a prayer not for what we want, but for what God wills—that He would always be before us, working in us His Holy will. 2

Morning Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

O Lord, I do not know what to ask of Thee. Thou alone knowest what I need. Thou lovest me more than I know how to love myself. O Father, grant Thy servant what I myself do not know how to ask. I do not dare to ask a cross of Thee, nor consolation; I only stand before Thee with my heart open; Thou seest the needs that I myself do not know. Look, and work in me according to Thy mercy; smite and heal me, cast me down and raise me up! I am reverent and silent before Thy holy will and ways that are unfathomable to me. I offer myself as a sacrifice to Thee; teach me to pray. Do Thou Thyself pray in me. Amen.

Another prayer attributed to the illustrious hierarch was written for prisoners , who although they have been incarcerated for crimes committed, especially need help from the Lord to bear the difficulty of their penitentiary life. But aren’t we are all seemingly prisoners of circumstances that surround us—family troubles, job loss or difficulty, rocky relationships, poverty, and any other thing that makes us feel like there is no way out? But we can pray to God with these words, that He would give us comfort and the strength to endure everything for the sake of cleansing our own sins, which have most likely brought us to these situations.

Prayer of the Prisoner

O my Lord God and Savior, blessed be Thy holy name!

Thanksgiving and praise be to Thee O Lord, for all the blessings I have received from Thee in this life. Sorrow and sickness have overtaken me, and I call upon Thy name. Reproach has fallen upon me. Thou hast laid me in the pit of hades, in the darkness and house of the dead. I sorrow for this, and I understand that I have this sorrow because I have sinned before Thee, and for my sins have these afflictions come upon me. For Thy righteous ones were not downcast, and even in prisons called out to Thee, and rejoiced in sufferings.

For if Thous shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, O Lord, who shall stand? For there is no man that hath not sinned. But Thou, O Lord, dost bear the sins of the world and cleansest through repentance. I believe, for thou hast not turned even me, a sinner, away from Thy Face. Thy Only Begotten Son didst pour out His blood for the whole world. I believe that He can cleanse even me from my sins, and desires this.

Therefore with David I say: I will confess mine iniquities before the Lord against myself. And Thou forgavest the ungodliness of my heart. I fear the judge and judgment of man, but even more do I fear Thy irrevocable judgment and eternal condemnation. For unrighteousness has risen up against me; I make bold to pray to Thee with David’s words: Hearken O Lord unto my righteousness, and hear my judgment, and deliver me by Thy righteousness.

For although I have committed unrighteousness, heal my unrighteousness by Thy mercy. Do not allow my heart to incline to deceitful words, to hiding the truth, and false justification. Help me to understand and to hate my unrighteousness, to love righteousness, and in truth surround my soul with comfort. Ease the burden of my afflictions. Endure also me, the condemned, that I may endure with patience for the sake of cleansing my sins and for the sake of Thy merciful, righteous judgment.

For if shame has covered me before certain people, may I endure it with humility; may I receive They mercy, O Lord, and may I not be put to shame before the face of the world at Thy Dread [Last] Judgment.

I come to Thee woeful and sorrowful; deprive me not of Thy spiritual consolation. I come to Thee darkened; show me the light of hope for salvation. I fall down before Thee in exhaustion; raise me up and confirm me in Thy grace.

And above all grant me the desire and help me, O Lord, in everything to do Thy will; that in peace I may glorify Thy holy name, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1   The translations of these prayers given in this post are our own (not official).

2   When searching in Google for the “Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow”, one seems always to find not this prayer, but the prayer of the Optina Elders: “O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my words and deeds, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrasssing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And, Yourself, pray in me. Amen.” These prayers are very similar.

Saint Philaret (Drozdov), Metropolitan of Moscow

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  13. How to Clean and Care for Copper Mugs: The Definitive Guide

    Vinegar and Baking Soda. Create a paste with three parts baking soda, and one part vinegar. Use a sponge to apply it to the mug with small circular motions and let it sit for about 10 minutes in order for the magic to happen. After that, simply rinse and dry until all moisture has been removed.

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