How to Keep Copper Sink from Turning Green

How can you keep your copper sink looking beautiful for years to come? Is there any way to stop the green layer from forming?

Over time copper can naturally form an unattractive green color when it comes into contact with certain elements. While this does not harm the copper, it can look less desirable. Read my reviews of the best copper sinks.

How to Keep Copper Sink from Turning Green

1. Choose a lacquered finish that prevents patina from forming

This choice requires more planning ahead than other options listed here. If you are installing a new sink, consider preparing it first with a coat of protective lacquer. This clear layer creates a barrier between the copper material and any other substance. Water nor air will reach the sink's surface, and the chemical reaction that causes copper to turn green will never happen.

This choice can save the most cleaning time in the long run. However, if your sink is already installed, applying lacquer may prove to be a challenge. Depending on what type of lacquer you choose, you may also risk diminishing the beautiful warm shine of untouched copper. Harsh cleansers can break down the lacquer over time, too, so be sure to use gentle cleaning products and non-abrasive sponges.

2. Regularly wipe down the sink with wax

Patinas form over time, so the right method is consistent maintenance. A wax barrier works much like the lacquer, in that it seals in the natural properties of the copper while repelling water and air. Natural beeswax or furniture wax are suitable for this task.

Because wax is not a permanent substance, you will need to regularly wipe down your copper sink with this material. Again, harsh cleansers can wear away at the wax.

Worse, the wax seal could wear away unevenly, creating unprotected spots in your sink that can darken faster than other areas. Keep an eye on your sink's appearance and be consistent with waxing.

3. Polish the copper regularly

If waxes and lacquers are off your list, a simple routine of polishing your copper sink with a cream can keep the green layer at bay. Whether your sink is made from brushed, shiny or hammered copper, it will look gorgeous when highly polished.

Polishing it weekly will remove any chemical reactions that may have formed over the prior seven days. Try to maintain a schedule from the time the sink is new for perfect results.

Though polishing it regularly may not prevent your copper sink's contact with water or air, you will be achieving the same effect of keeping the green patina away. Another plus is that you will continue to enjoy a polished sink that looks like it just was installed yesterday.

4. Clean and wipe dry after every use

Daily maintenance is key no matter what method of patina prevention you use. However, if you take care to dry your sink thoroughly after each use, you will greatly reduce the chance of a green layer forming due to water build-up.

The longer water lingers on the surface of your sink, the more chance a chemical reaction will occur. Drying out your sink each day will go a long way in stopping the reaction from happening.

You can also use a mild dish detergent or hand soap to wipe down your sink each day. This daily upkeep will remove any green discoloration before it forms. Though daily thorough cleaning can take a little more time and elbow grease, it can be an effective preventative measure.

Extra considerations

  • When purchasing a copper sink, always make sure you are getting high-quality materials. The purer the copper, the easier it will be to care for it properly. Though mixed metals can make for a more durable sink, a purer copper content will make cleaning a snap.
  • When applying wax, lacquer or any other cleaning or protective agent, be sure to use an even layer over the sink's entire surface.
  • If you have "hard" water, meaning your water has a high pH level, consider getting a water softener. A high pH level in your water can cause corrosion or pitting in your copper sink over time in addition to turning it green.

Why Do Copper Sinks Turn Green?

Like many metals, copper chemically reacts with certain elements. When exposed to oxygen in the air, copper can turn black, and when exposed to oxygen in water, it develops a green or blue-green color.

Since a sink's main purpose is to dispense water, it's no wonder that a copper sink is prone to turning green.

This color change is called a patina, which is a harmless protective layer that is meant to prevent further corrosion.

Roofs and other outside structures that are made of copper rely on their patina for protection from harsh weather. For an indoor sink, however, there is no reason copper must retain this layer. Many homeowners prefer the natural finish of their original orange, shiny copper.

Though existing green stains can be removed from copper, it usually requires chemicals that might damage your sink's finish. The best way to take care of the green layer is to stop it happening in the first place.

To prevent a patina from forming on your copper sink, simply reduce its contact with water or air. This goal can be easily achieved if you are committed to maintaining a beautiful sink.

Things to Avoid

Try to avoid these things to maximize your copper sink's care routine.

1. Contact with acidic foods or substances

Highly acidic foods like tomatoes and vinegar can corrode and mar copper. They can also create small divots in the sink's surface over time, which is called pitting. Though temporary contact with these foods won't do any harm, avoid extended contact with materials like these. Rinse out your sink in a timely manner.

2. Harsh cleansers

Harsh cleansers with a high or low pH level can lead to damage in your copper sink. Always use something gentle to wipe it down, such as dish or hand soap. If you have a lacquered finish, harsh cleansers can remove the protective layer. Be sure to consider your needs when cleaning your sink.

3. Abrasive sponges or scrubbers

Just like copper pots or pans, a copper sink should be treated gently. Try not to scratch or dull its surface with steel wool or other abrasive scrubbing tools. Also avoid dropping anything heavy into it to avoid surface damage.


Overall, keeping your copper sink lovely and patina-free can improve your enjoyment of it for many years to come.

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