Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe? (Find Out Now!)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

If you’re a fan of Moscow mules, you definitely want to have a set of those majestic copper mugs in your drinkware collection. Not only do metal cups add a rustic flair to your bar, they are excellent thermal conductors. This means that they’ll keep your drinks chilled during the summer and warm in the fall.

However, whether you were aware or not, copper mugs require unique care. Specifically, copper mugs are typically not dishwasher safe. Many feature a lining or food-safe lacquer that protects the copper and prevents copper exposure. This lining can become weakened or corrode in a dishwasher. While unlined copper mugs are technically dishwasher safe, hand washing is still highly advised to preserve their quality.

From ensuring that they maintain their illustrious copper shine to maximizing their lifespan, we’ve put together everything you need to know about properly cleaning and caring for your copper mugs.

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Are Copper Mugs Dishwasher Safe?

Simply put, copper mugs are NOT dishwasher safe. In fact, all copper utensils, mugs, and cookware should be hand washed – no exceptions. Dishwashers are notorious for using very harsh soaps, high heat, and powerful water pressure that can cause serious harm to both the inside and outside of your copper mugs.

Not only will a dishwasher make a copper mug tarnish and appear weathered, they can also pose a minor risk to the user. Dishwashers will weaken the lining or coating on copper mugs, which are in place to eliminate exposure to copper.

Unlined Copper Mugs vs. Lined Copper Mugs

There are generally two main types of copper mugs out there: those that are lined and those that are unlined. Unlined copper mugs are 100% pure and are the original Moscow mule fixture. Since they don’t have any sort of lining that can corrode or weaken, unlined copper mugs are technically dishwasher safe.

However, it is highly recommended that you only hand wash unlined copper mugs. These mugs are incredibly delicate and susceptible to tarnishing, dents, and damage. By hand washing, you will maintain the quality of the mug.

Lined copper mugs, on the other hand, are essentially copper-plated, over either tin, stainless steel, or nickel. Or, they may be lined with any of the aforementioned materials. These materials provide additional support to yield a mug that is more durable and limits the user’s exposure to copper – assuming that you only wash them by hand. If you place a lined copper mug in the dishwasher, not only will this reduce the overall quality, it can also crack or flake the lining.

How to Properly Clean Copper Mugs

The key to properly cleaning copper mugs is to never put them in the dishwasher. They should ONLY be washed by hand.

  • Use a soft sponge, warm water, and a mild dish soap to scrub the copper mug in circular motions for about 30 seconds until all debris is removed. Avoid using an abrasive sponge or harsh chemicals to prevent scratching or corroding the metal.
  • Rinse the mug under warm water to remove the soap and lingering particles.
  • With a soft cotton or hemp dish towel, thoroughly dry the copper mug.
  • Dry the mug again, using a different soft cloth.

The most important part about cleaning copper mugs is the drying stage. Even the smallest amount of residual water can cause tarnishing. As such, we highly recommend drying copper mugs twice with two different soft cloths until any sign of water is removed. While this may seem tedious, it will go a long way towards extending the life of your copper mugs.

How to Remove Tarnish from Copper Mugs

Owning copper mugs means that you’ll occasionally have to perform some simple maintenance. When they start to develop a green tinge, use these quick solutions to reinstate your copper mugs’ lovely shine:

  • Limes or lemons and salt: Simply put table or sea salt on a dish and cut limes or lemons into ¼ slices. Dip one of the slices into the salt and slowly scrub all over the copper mug in circles. You should see almost instant results.
  • Vinegar and salt: Mix together one cup of vinegar, five cups of water, and one tablespoon of salt. Pour the mixture in a pot and place your mug inside. Bring the pot to a boil and the tarnish should start to disappear.
  • Vinegar and baking soda: Make a paste using three parts baking soda and one-part vinegar. With a sponge, apply the paste to the mug in small circles and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Ketchup: Tomatoes are very powerful at cleaning tarnished copper. Simply apply some ketchup to a soft toothbrush or soft sponge and rub in a circular motion. Let this sit for about 30 minutes before removing the ketchup in the same manner it was applied.
  • Tamarind paste: A tropical fruit commonly used in Indian, African, and Caribbean cuisine, tamarind contains tartaric acid, which can naturally remove tarnish from copper and brass. Add water to tamarind paste and rub it on the mug using a cloth or soft sponge. After a couple minutes, rinse the mixture and dry.
  • Metal polish: While all the aforementioned natural methods are all effective, affordable, and safe, you can also use a metal polish or commercial tarnish remover. There are many popular brands that are excellent for polishing all kinds of metals, but the main ingredients are usually a little harsher than desirable. 

Once the tarnish is removed, wash the mug under warm or cool water and dry thoroughly using two soft dish cloths.

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Copper Mug Care Tips

Undeniably, copper mugs are stylish and will make a wonderful addition to any barware collection. They are great for keeping your cold drinks chilled and your warm drinks steaming. Whatever you may choose to serve in your copper mugs, keep these essential tips in mind:

  • When serving drinks, you never want to let them sit for more than four hours!
  • Take the time to carefully hand-wash your copper mugs after each use and dry thoroughly using two cloths.
  • Once your mugs start to tarnish, use any of the above methods to restore them.

That’s all there is to it. Cheers!

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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