How to Clean Silver: 13 Simple Ways to Clean Silver

Over time, silver jewelry and cutlery can lose their shine and develop a blackish tint known as tarnish. This occurs due to a chemical reaction between the silver and sulfur in the air. While many silver items today are plated with a thin layer of rhodium to protect against tarnishing, this protective coating eventually wears off, leaving the silver vulnerable to discoloration.

Various everyday substances like perfumes, cosmetics, hair spray, hand cream, oils from the skin, and certain foods can also contribute to tarnishing and dulling the appearance of silver items. Fortunately, there are easy and cost-effective methods to restore their shine and luster.

Silver Cleaning Tips

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1. Adjust Salt & Baking Soda Quantity: For larger silver pieces, such as trays or pitchers, use more salt and baking soda. This will require more water and a longer soaking time, so increasing the salt and soda will expedite the cleaning process.

2. Wrap in Foil: Before placing the silver pieces in the cleaning solution, loosely wrap them in foil. This helps the baking soda to better penetrate and clean the silver.

3. Use Toothpaste for Tough Spots: For stubborn spots and streaks, buff them with toothpaste applied to a soft cloth. Toothpaste surprisingly works well on silver and can help remove tough stains.

4. Soak Again if Necessary: If your silver is badly tarnished, it may require a second soaking. Don’t hesitate to repeat the process if needed to achieve desired results.

5. Consider Sink Size: Adjust the quantity of foil and cleaning solution based on the size of your sink. For example, if you have a larger sink, use more salt and soda, at least a cup each, to ensure effective cleaning. If your sink has multiple sections, choose the one that fits your silver pieces comfortably for optimal cleaning results.

Best Ways t Clean Silver

Here are 11 simple do-it-yourself recipes for cleaning silver at home:

1. Aluminum Foil + Laundry Detergent

This method is suitable for slightly tarnished silverware or jewelry. Line a bowl with aluminum foil and fill it with hot water.

Add a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent and mix well. Place your silver items into the solution and let them soak for a minute.

Then, remove the silver using kitchen tongs, rinse it with lukewarm water, and lay it on a paper towel to dry.

The best laundry to use is Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent

2. Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish and Cleaner Liquid

Flitz Multi-Purpose is a powerful cleaning and polishing solution suitable for various surfaces such as metal, plastic, fiberglass, aluminum, and jewelry including sterling silver.

Its concentrated formula is designed to provide efficient cleaning and polishing while being economical to use. It offers exceptional coverage, going three times farther than other liquid cleaners, and achieves a brilliant shine in half the time.

It tackles various blemishes such as tarnish, rust, water stains, heat discoloration, oxidation, and fingerprints.

3. Aluminum Foil + Baking Soda

This method is highly effective for cleaning larger silver items such as cutlery, candlesticks, or tableware. Start by lining the bottom of a large baking pan with aluminum foil, ensuring the shiny side is facing up.

It’s important to use ceramic or glass bakeware to prevent any unwanted chemical reactions. Fill the pan with water and add baking soda at a ratio of 1.5 tablespoons per gallon of water.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then carefully place the tarnished silver items into the solution for about 15 seconds. Use kitchen tongs to remove the silver and let it cool on a paper towel.

Repeat the process for stubborn tarnish, but avoid using this method for jewelry with gemstones.

4. Cornflour + Water

This recipe is perfect for restoring the shine to tarnished silver. Create a thick paste by mixing water and cornflour, then apply it to the silver item.

Allow the paste to dry completely before rubbing it off with a towel to polish the surface and restore the shine. If you don’t have cornflour, cream of tartar can be used as a substitute.

5. Weiman Silver Polish and Cleaner

Achieve long-lasting shine and protection for your silver items with Weiman Silver Polish & Cleaner. Crafted with premium ingredients and formulated with a gentle, non-abrasive formula, it effortlessly removes tarnish and polishes silver and other metals.

This product features anti-tarnish agents that leave behind a protective coating, preventing and delaying tarnish from reappearing and ensuring your silver stays radiant for years to come.

Weiman Silver Polish is designed with an innovative, ammonia-free liquid formula, making it safe for use on all types of silver, including sterling silver, silver plate, silver jewelry, and fine antique silver.

6. Ketchup Clean-up

Surprisingly, ketchup is effective for removing tarnish from silver, making it a handy solution for cleaning one or two items.

Simply squeeze a few drops of ketchup onto a paper towel and gently rub it onto the tarnished silverware or jewelry.

For stubborn tarnish, apply ketchup directly to the affected areas and let it sit for 15 minutes before rubbing it off with a microfiber cloth and rinsing with water.

For intricate items like candlesticks or silverware with crevices, use a soft toothbrush to clean the tarnish.

7. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizing products can be a convenient option for polishing your silver ring on the fly. Simply squeeze a small amount of hand sanitizer onto a soft paper handkerchief and gently rub it onto your jewelry.

This will remove any matte finish and slight tarnish, leaving your silver clean and shiny again.

However, avoid using this method on jewelry with encrusted mineral stones, as some ingredients in the hand sanitizer could potentially damage the stone.

8. Toothpaste

This is a classic and easy do-it-yourself silver cleaning recipe. Opt for a non-gel and non-abrasive toothpaste.

Squeeze a small amount onto a soft cloth or paper handkerchief, then rub it onto the jewelry or silverware using circular motions to polish it and remove tarnish.

Let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing off the toothpaste with water. After this procedure, your silver will be clean and shiny as if it were new.

9. Lemon-Lime Soda

If your silver jewelry has become dull and tarnished, soaking it in a plastic bowl filled with lemon-lime soda can help.

Leave it submerged for one hour, then remove the silver, rinse it thoroughly with clean water, and dry it with a paper towel or soft cloth. However, please note that this method is only effective for slightly tarnished silver items.

10. Window Cleaning Detergent

Window cleaner isn’t just for glass surfaces; it can also effectively remove dirt and restore the shine of sterling silver.

Simply spray a small amount onto a cloth and use it to scrub your jewelry or silverware. For intricate details or ornaments, use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub.

Avoid using this method on antique silver items such as cutlery, candlesticks, or jewelry, as antiques can be fragile. For cleaning antique silver, it’s better to invest in a specialized product.

11. Ammonia + Water

This method is a simple way to brighten silver cutlery, jewelry, and accessories. Mix one part clear ammonia with two parts warm water to create a solution.

Soak your silver items in the liquid for 10 minutes, then remove them and wipe them with a soft cloth. Buff the surface with a dry cotton cloth to polish it. It’s important to note that using ammonia is not recommended for antique silverware or silver jewelry.

12. White Distilled Vinegar + Baking Soda

While not suitable for antique silver items, this method works wonders for restoring the shine of your sterling silver jewelry and cutlery. Place the silver items in a bowl and cover them with white distilled vinegar.

Add baking soda to the bowl, using approximately 4 tablespoons of baking soda for every cup of vinegar. Allow the silver to soak in the mixture for 1 hour. Afterward, rinse the silver with clean water and dry it thoroughly with a soft cotton cloth.

Here is the best baking soda and distilled vinegar to use

13. Baking Soda + Water

For stubborn built-up tarnish on your silver jewelry, create a thick paste by mixing baking soda with lukewarm water. Apply the paste onto the tarnished spots using a damp cloth. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes, then gently rub with a soft cloth.

Be cautious not to rub too hard to avoid scratching the surface. For intricate details or crevices, use a soft toothbrush to clean them. Rinse using cold water and you can use a soft cloth to dry. Use circular motions to buff and polish the silver.

Cleaning Silver-Plated and Antique Silver Items

Cleaning silver-plated items like necklaces, rings, and other jewelry can be a bit tricky. Since these pieces only have a thin layer of silver plating over another metal, vigorous cleaning or soaking them in liquid solutions, combined with regular wear and tear, can lead to flaking. It’s wise to test any cleaning methods in an inconspicuous spot before fully cleaning the item.

If your silver jewelry has gemstones or other embellishments, it’s best to use a few drops of mild soap or baby shampoo mixed with water to gently wipe it down before storing.

Use cotton swabs or a soft-bristled brush to clean intricate areas, being careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid scratching the surface.

For antique silver or valuable pieces, it’s advisable to seek advice from an antique dealer, jeweler, or professional restoration company before attempting to clean them.

They can offer personalized guidance on the safest and most effective cleaning methods for your specific piece.

Commercial Silver Polish

In addition to natural cleaning methods, you can also find many commercial silver polish products both online and in stores. Make sure to choose a polish that’s specifically designed for sterling silver or silver-plated items.

Some polishes are tailored for specific applications, so always read the instructions carefully before using them.

Storing Silver to Prevent Tarnish

While tarnish is inevitable with silver due to particulates in the air, there are steps you can take to slow down the process. Store your silver in a drawer, cabinet, or other enclosed space that limits its exposure to air and humidity.

For larger silver items, consider wrapping them in acid-free paper and storing them in a cotton bag until needed. Avoid storing silver jewelry in the bathroom, where humidity levels are typically higher.

Bonus Tip: To maintain the shine of your silverware and jewelry for longer periods, store them with a small piece of chalk in their box. Chalk is highly absorbent and helps to keep moisture away from your silver. Alternatively, you can use small silica gel packs in place of chalk.

Give these cleaning recipes a try to spruce up your jewelry and polish your silverware in preparation for the holidays.


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