Are Copper Pans Dishwasher Safe? (Pros, Cons, Warnings)

The use of copper pans has become greatly popular over the last few years with the advent of TV chefs promoting them for use in home kitchens.

I have a selection myself and I will point out the issues facing washing copper pans in a dishwasher.

I can say categorically that copper pans are NOT dishwasher safe and should never be washed in this type of machine.

Reasons to avoid washing Copper Pans in a Dishwasher

  • Copper Discoloration and Tarnishing
  • Scratching of surface finish
  • Damage to the pan shape
  • Lining material damage
  • Food stains not removed

Copper Discoloration and Tarnishing

Having paid a high price for my copper pans I was careful to research how they should be maintained.

Placing copper pans in a dishwasher can lead to serious issues with the soft copper metal becoming ‘oxidized’ which will cause it to lose its sheen.

Dishwashers work by using high-pressure water jets which may cause damage to the soft copper material or its protective coating.

I further discovered that the detergents used in a dishwasher contain strong chemicals which can lead to oxidation of the copper and damage the protective coating of the copper pan.

Scratching of the surface finish

This would be the worst-case for me as I love the beautiful shine of my copper pans.

The combination of high-pressure water jets and chemical detergents can easily lead to the luster of the copper being scratched or damaged which will lead to a diminishing of its beautiful finish.

Furthermore, it is not advised to allow copper pans to be ‘air dried’ as this may also lead to a diminishing of the shine of the copper finish.

Damage to the pan shape

I was surprised to find out that this could be a problem as the pans are regularly exposed to high temperatures when being used for cooking.

However, not only do dishwashers use high-pressure water and chemicals in their detergents, but they also operate at a high temperature.

As copper is a soft metal it is very likely to show signs of deforming and lose its shape if exposed to a combination of pressure, chemicals, and heat.

It seems that this problem is most acute where the copper material used to make the pans is of a very thin gauge, but even expensive copper cookware is susceptible to this problem if placed in a dishwasher.

Lining material damage

I noticed that all my copper pans are lined with a material that is not harmful to health.

A little more research disclosed that this is to prevent the food being cooked in the pan from becoming affected by the potentially harmful copper.

I was shocked to find that washing a copper pan in a dishwasher can lead to the lining being damaged without it being obvious to the naked eye.

This could expose those eating the food to potential health problems over a period of time.

Food stains not removed

Even industrial standard dishwashers have a problem in removing burned food which has become stuck to various types of cookware.

However, I have found that this problem is very much worse in the case of copper pans as the pan may become stained and unattractive.

Consequently, I make an effort to clean my copper pans as I will outline below.

How to keep your copper pans clean

As it is clear that copper pans should never be placed in a dishwasher, I would like to offer my solutions to the issue.

  • Wash immediately after use
  • Use natural cleaners
  • Dry with a soft cloth

Wash immediately after use

I always wash my copper pans immediately after use as this will prevent any residual material from becoming hardened and perhaps staining the pan.

Where there is burned material at the bottom of the pan, I allow the pan to soak in hot water for a while before cleaning.

Use natural cleaners

I use a combination of lemon juice, baking soda, and table salt to clean my copper pans and this seems to ‘do the trick’ every time without exposing them to do any damage.

Another tip I have found useful is to wipe a badly stained pan with a vinegar and salt mixture which I wash off after leaving for around an hour.

Dry with a soft cloth

I always dry with a soft cloth which will prevent damage to the lining and the copper outer material.

NEVER air dry as this will almost always result in the pan becoming tarnished and possibly stained.