Shiny copper is beautiful, and there are some wonderfully effective polishes on the market. But are you a cook or a decorator?
The great virtue of copper or copper-clad cookware is that it conducts heat superbly and evenly. For that it deserves to be cherished, not polished.
If you try to keep your copper cookware in its virginal state you will have taken on a full-time job.
But to avoid having them look too blotchy, there are a few simple things you can do. Don’t ever put them in the dishwasher; the highly alkaline detergent can discolor the copper.
Dry them completely after washing with dishwashing liquid. Make sure to get all the grease off with a mildly abrasive cleaner, because when heated it will burn into a black stain. Finally, don’t heat the pans too hot, either with oil in them or especially when empty.
Dark copper oxide forms most readily on the hottest spots, and you may wind up with the pattern of the burner imprinted on the pan’s bottom.