How To: Clean Tarnished Metal Using This Common Condiment

Clean Tarnished Metal Using This Common Condiment

Most of you probably spread ketchup all over hamburgers and fries. Some of you may even drink it straight. But did you know that tame (and slightly addictive) condiment in your fridge is also a powerful cleaning agent?

Melissa Ibbitson, 19, consumes 3 bottles of ketchup every week. Image via Daily Mail

To clean your tarnished copper pots and remove the dullness from your silver utensils, break out a bottle of ketchup, which can refresh metal cookware better than harsh chemical cleaners. It can also cure some of that diarrhea or indigestion you may have if you've got the good stuff.

Coat the items with a light layer of the red sauce and let them sit for about 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how deep of a cleaning is needed. If you need to deep clean any little nooks and crannies, grab a toothbrush and scrub away while the item sits. To finish, rinse and dry the metals.

A copper measuring cup covered in ketchup. Image via The Squirrel's Eye

Of course, there are a number of unique ways to clean your precious metals. Chemical-based polish does the job effectively, but leaves behind an unpleasant stink. Toothpaste is a better-scented solution for tricky silver, but one of its main ingredients, baking soda, makes the minty mix too abrasive and can cause small scratches in silver.

Ketchup's high acidity makes it the ideal cleaning solution for copper and silver. With a pH of 3.85, ketchup can break down the carbon that creates tarnish on metal. Left out and exposed to air, metals like copper and silver will develop carbon buildup and change color. Introducing ketchup and metal causes them to react and oxidize tarnish.

Image via Kaufman Mercantile

Be careful not to apply ketchup too liberally, though. The condiment's acid content is so powerful that leaving ketchup on delicate silver jewelry for too long can eat away at the metal, and it can even dissolve aluminum foil (with a little help, anyway).

Ketchup's cleaning power isn't limited to your finest utensils and cookware, though. It can also make collectible coins shine and remove chlorine's green tint from blonde hair. What do you use it on?

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