The Unexpected Way You Can Use Yogurt To Clean Cookware

Anyone who owns metal cookware probably has a preferred method for polishing it. Your tried-and-true method for your copper cookware, however, probably doesn't involve a container of yogurt — but maybe it should. Instead of making a polishing concoction that requires you to mix up multiple products and ingredients, you can opt to use yogurt to clean your copper instead. 

While the thought of cleaning dishes with yogurt may sound a bit unconventional (and sticky), it'll leave your copper pots and pans sparkling. All you have to do is coat the tarnished copper with yogurt — no need to lay it on thickly either — and let it sit on your cookware for 30 minutes. When your time's up, your copper pieces will look brand new. With a little bit of science and a few reactions, yogurt makes an incredible "polish" for your copper cookware. But how exactly does a meager container of yogurt help make your copper glisten? Let's find out. 

How yogurt can polish copper

Yogurt's ability to polish copper may sound implausible, but it's backed by science. The application of yogurt to copper cookware works because of the way that yogurt's active ingredient reacts with the metal material. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which is a chemical that bacteria produce from milk's lactose. The dark "tarnish marks" on your pans are places where the copper has oxidized due to exposure to the air. While tarnishing is inevitable, lactic acid can chemically react with the oxides found in copper. 

The product of the reaction between the copper oxides and lactic acid is copper lactate, which will ensure that you no longer see those tarnish marks on your pots and pans. Once those chemical reactions have completed and your kitchenware sparkles once again, rinse off the yogurt coating and give the cookware a quick buff with a soft cloth by rubbing the cloth in circles over the copper. This nifty yogurt trick will become your favorite way to use science in the kitchen.

Another way to use food products to polish copper

If you don't regularly eat yogurt but have a kitchen stocked with tomato products, you also have a new copper polishing strategy. Tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup are also great contenders for taking the tarnish off of your cookware. This is because, like yogurt, tomatoes are full of acids. Although tomato products have citric, malic, and ascorbic acids , as opposed to lactic acid, they still react with the copper to create a similar polishing effect. 

To allow this reaction to take place, you just need to spread the tomato sauce or paste over the cookware until it's coated. In only a few minutes, you'll see a noticeable reduction in the tarnish. As with the yogurt method, wash your cookware thoroughly after the chemical reaction has finished — and don't forget to buff with a soft cloth. Shockingly, yogurt can remove the tarnish on your copper cookware — but it's not the only food product you'll want to keep at the ready to complete the task.