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How to Clean Copper Pipe for Soldering

Copper Pipe for Soldering

Soldering copper pipes is an important skill for any plumber. Cleaning the pipe before beginning is essential to ensure a successful soldering project. Here’s what you need to know about cleaning copper pipe before soldering.

Start with Sandpaper

Before using any chemical solutions or abrasive materials, begin using sandpaper. Start with 100-grit sandpaper and work your way up to 400-grit. This will remove any dirt, rust, and corrosion on the surface of the pipe. Make sure to sand away any oxidized areas, as these can effectively interfere with the solder adhering.

Scrub With Steel Wool

Once you’ve finished sanding down the pipe, use steel wool to scrub away any residue or oxidation on the surface of the pipe. Be sure to use extra caution around brass fittings, as steel wool can scratch them easily when used too vigorously. After thoroughly scrubbing with steel wool, wipe down the pipe with a damp cloth to remove any metal shavings from sanding and steel wool scrubbing.

Use a Solution

If there is still stubborn oxidation on your copper pipe’s surface after sanding and scrubbing with steel wool, there are several chemical solutions you can use depending on how heavily oxidized your pipes are. For light oxidation, use vinegar or lemon juice mixed with salt; this will break down even stubborn layers of oxidation without damaging your pipes or fittings in the process. If that doesn’t work, try using an acid solution like hydrochloric acid (use extreme caution when handling acidic solutions). Simply dip a rag in your chosen solution and wrap it around affected areas; let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing off thoroughly with cold water and wiping dry with a clean cloth.


Cleaning copper pipes before soldering is essential for ensuring that your project turns out properly. The best way to do this is by starting with sandpaper, moving onto steel wool for more stubborn spots, then finishing up by using either a vinegar/lemon juice/salt mixture or an acid solution for particularly heavy layers of oxidation. No matter which method you choose, be sure that all residue has been removed from the surface of your pipes before beginning your soldering project! For website owners and DIYers alike who want their projects done right—clean those copper pipes!

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