How to Clean Copper Hardware the Easy Way

Let me tell you a little story about mouse poo!! Yup… little brown bb-like balls in all their stinky goodness! Are you grossed out yet?? Hey, it’s the life of a junker!! If it was all sunshine and roses, everyone would do it!! Do you think all that junk at your favorite flea comes all cleaned up and pretty-like? Nope!! Not at all!! Somebody spends countless hours scrubbing those goodies… and sometimes, well, it starts with a few little droppings!!

How to Clean Copper Hardware the Easy Way!! #rustedroots

So, ya’ll remember the kitchen cabinets that the hubs and I rescued from my great great aunts house? Five hours of hard labor and we had the cabinets loaded up and ready to take home. And if all that work weren’t enough, they were ooey, gooey, and downright sticky, mouse poo and all!! I mean, the house has been abandoned for over a decade. Vandals have broken in… and who knows what has made a home inside. So, it’s a little gross. Okay, a lot gross. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth rescuing!!

How to Clean Salvaged Hardware #RustedRoots

Once we got the cabinets home, first things first, they needed a good scrub!! I mean, a scrub-a-dub-dub-elbow-grease kinda clean!! And that’s what the hubs and I did this past weekend! Mouse poo and all!! Yup!! Suited up with gloves, a bucket of cleaner, and a bucket to rinse, we set out on our poo adventure! And it was an ugly one!! But we did it!! All in the name of creating beauty from Rusted Roots!!

Once we got the cabinets all cleaned up, I noticed the hardware had a little bit of orange peeking through! Is that copper? I had no idea!! So, I set out to sparkle up those copper handles. Enter vinegar and salt… duh-duh-duh-duuuuuuh!! Yes, they were wearing red capes with a little RR shield on the back!!

Two Ingedients to Clean Copper #RustedRoots

Two cups of vinegar and one cup of salt… a glass dish where the handles can all spread out, and a few hours in the sun!

While that’s soaking, I have to share. I can still see Mo with her petite stature standing on her tippy toes to reach these tall cabinets. When the cabinets were installed back in the 50’s, she never liked the hardware that came on them. So my uncle went and bought these copper ones. I get it honest. Mo had good taste!!

After a couple hours in the sun, I wasn’t really seeing any change. So, I decided to bring it inside and let it soak overnight.

How to Clean Old Cabinet Hardware #RustedRoots

That did the trick!! Look at that bubble foam!! I fished out each handle and used a toothbrush to get down in the nooks and crannies.

Clean Copper with Toothbrush #RustedRoots

The water was soooo gross!! But not near as gross as the poo! The poo wins! Poo always wins! Ha ha!! I’m so silly. Anyway, my guess is the discoloration came from years of kitchen grease and dust building up. Mo always kept a super clean house… washing her curtains every time company would come over. Can you imagine?? But these handles, well, they may have been neglected.

How to Clean Copper {Before} #RustedRoots

Nothing a little magic potion can’t fix!! I’d say they turned out pretty swell!! And believe me, I’d scrub a copper handle any day over cleaning out mouse poo!! Oh! And you see that handle on the right? Second from the bottom? It’s a little bent. I wonder what the story was behind that?? I’m sure there was a story. Some things will always be a mystery.

How to Clean Copper {After} #RustedRoots

It won’t be long now before these cabinets grace the walls of our garage! The question now what color to paint them?? Any suggestions?? Share your ideas in the comments!! And if you want to remember this magic potion for your next copper stash, pin the image below or share it on Facebook to save it to your timeline!!

How to Clean Copper Hardware the Easy Way!! #rustedroots

Until next time, let us remember..

Beauty Stems from Rusted Roots

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  1. Barbara ("B") says:

    Love the copper cabinet hardware … and your wonderful story! Just not sure I’d paint it though. Since You’ve just stemmed beauty from a rusted root … let er shine! Just say’n.

    • Oh, no no no, Barbara!! I would never paint the hardware!! Not after all that work… whew!! I am still sweatin’! I meant ‘what color to paint the cabinets?’ Ha ha!! Oh, those handles will shine to infinity and beyond!! But that wood… it needs a little spunk!! Any suggestions?? I want that copper to pop!!

  2. Are the cabenets store bought plywood or real panels? A nice stain would realy help your hardwear pop out.a

    • They are solid wood, Alan!! They are old!! From the 50’s! I would love to stain them, but just the thought of sanding them down makes me tired! Haha!!

  3. Try turquoise or robin’s egg blue with copper for a real POP!

  4. Try MMS Milk Paint in one of her blues or greens.

    • Hmmmmm… that’s a thought, Pam!! Lucketts Green has always been a fave of mine!! Adding that to the list of possibilities!!

  5. hello i dont think they are copper. probaly brass copper would be too pliable for cabinet doors. love your site .

  6. adria qualls says:

    hey i just stumbled across your website and when i seen those handles i was like oh yeah. we have the exact same kind and they looked exactly the same before you cleaned yours. i am currently working on getting all the years of dirt oil and just nasty stuff off of ours. we boiled ours in vinegar and salt and man does it really work. i love vinegar! this is my grandmothers old house so these women had great taste!! anyway just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story and showing how great they turned out.

  7. I think your idea of cleaning copper brilliant. A friend sent it to me and I could hardly wait to read your advice. BUT I have beautiful copper door handles and hinges. All engraved with flowers. Simply gorgeous. But I can’t take them off!!!!
    Soaking is out unfortunately Nevertheless I’ll use the receive and see what happens.
    Many thanks

  8. Beth Matthews says:

    Did you treat them with anything after you cleaned them?

  9. I just come across this because I have some cooper handles and hinges that I was wanting to restore. My question is do you have to reseal them after cleaning them?

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