Sterling silver pieces can be beautiful to use and display in your home as heirlooms or functional antiques but tarnish can form easily if you aren’t cleaning your silver regularly. Any sterling silver items like jewelry, flatware, or serving pieces require routine maintenance to keep them looking shiny and new, and luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeves.
Below, you’ll find a few methods including commercial silver cleaner or homemade mixes of everyday items in your household pantry.
How Often Should You Clean Your Silver?
Tarnish should be treated as soon as you notice that your silver is looking dark or cloudy. It will not go away on its own and regular cleaning is far better for the piece than waiting until the surface is completely black. For silver pieces you use or wear daily, cleaning every other month usually does the trick.
Have What You Need
Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you’ll need. We provided a few methods below, so to help you out, we listed all the materials required for each method.
✨Cotton or synthetic fiber gloves
✨Anti-tarnish cloth or storage bag
✨Sink or dishpan
✨Large glass bowl
✨Tongs with plastic tips
✨Commercial silver cleaner
✨Dishwashing liquid or mild liquid laundry detergent
✨Distilled white vinegar
✨Lemon juice or fresh lemons
✨Non-gel, non-whitening toothpaste
9 Methods to Clean Your Tarnished Silver
Commercial Silver Cleaner
Most pre-formulated silver cleaners remove tarnish and add shine. Gently wash your silver in warm, soapy water to remove dust and dirt using a non-abrasive sponge to prevent scratching, and carefully follow the instructions for the commercial silver polish you’ve selected. Generally, liquid cleaners or wipes are better than paste for ornate silver, which can get trapped in crevices, and silver cloths are the least messy option.
Baking Soda and Water
You can make a homemade silver cleaning paste by combining one part water and three parts baking soda in a small bowl. Wet the silver and use a soft, microfiber cloth or sponge to apply the paste. Work in a small area at a time and gently rub in circles to remove the tarnish. Rinse away the baking soda paste with cool water, and immediately use a microfiber cloth to dry and buff the silver to shine.
Dishwashing Liquid or Mild Laundry Detergent
To remove dust and sticky residue from your sterling silver pieces, you can use dishwashing liquid or a mild laundry detergent and some warm water. Rinse in cool water and dry the silver immediately with a soft cloth to prevent water spots. Avoid detergents that contain bleach, which can damage silver.
Use plain non-gel toothpaste that does not contain additional whitening ingredients. Be sure to work on clean, rinsed silver. Place a dab of toothpaste on a cloth. Work in a small area of the silver at a time and gently rub in circles to remove the tarnish. Rinse away the toothpaste with warm water, and dry the silver with a lint-free microfiber cloth.
Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Water
This method is a bit similar to the baking soda and water method, but this one has an added kick. Add 1 quart of warm water, 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a large bowl. Add the silver and allow it to soak for two to three hours. Rinse with cold water and dry with a microfiber cloth.
Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
Wash the silver in warm, soapy water and rinse to remove dust. Make a paste by mixing one part lemon juice and four parts baking soda in a small bowl. Using a sponge, work in a small area at a time and gently rub in circles to remove the tarnish. Rinse the sponge as the tarnish is transferred. Rinse away the paste with cool water, and use a microfiber cloth to dry and buff the silver to shine.
It might seem strange, but all you have to do is apply a thin layer of ketchup to the silver and set aside for 15 minutes. Use a sponge or soft cloth, working in small circles, to wipe away the tarnish. Wash the silver in warm, soapy water, rinse, and buff dry with a soft cloth.
Cornstarch and Water
Combine three parts water and one part cornstarch in a small bowl to create a paste. Use a damp sponge to apply the paste to the silver. Once the paste dries, rub it off and rinse. Use a clean microfiber cloth to dry and buff the silver to shine.
Aluminum Foil, Baking Soda, and Boiling Water Soak
Line a bowl with aluminum foil and fill with boiling water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water. Add the silver to the water-baking soda solution, ensuring it touches the aluminum foil. Let the silver soak until no more tarnish is visible. Remove the silver from the solution with plastic-tipped tongs and buff with a soft, dry microfiber cloth.
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