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How to fix tarnished silver

Try these remedies to make your jewelry, plates, and cutlery shine like new.

How to fix tarnished silver

No matter how well you care for your silver jewelry, serving ware and cutlery, they will naturally tarnish over time. Although silver doesn’t require the regular upkeep of more frequently-used household items like bedding and kitchenware, it still needs to be cleaned every so often to maintain its luster and keep heavy tarnish from making it look old and even more difficult to clean.

Your most-worn rings, necklaces and other jewelry pieces may only need a light polishing from time to time, but silver left on display or tucked inside boxes, cabinets and drawers that is used infrequently may require a more intensive clean.

Why does silver tarnish?

It’s a chemical reaction from exposure to sulphur in the air and light that causes silver to tarnish, however, jewelry pieces stay bright with regular friction and frequent wear.

How often should you polish silver??

Polishing, while necessary, is abrasive so no matter how delicate your hand, there’s no need to go overboard with cleaning — anywhere from two to six times a year usually suffices in most cases.

Follow these steps on how to clean silver from Carolyn Forte, Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, to make it sparkle. Although there are recommended go-to cleaning products that make for a more effective clean, we’ve also included a few homemade cleaning remedies with basic pantry finds, including dish soap and baking soda, for less expensive cleaning options or to use in a pinch when you find you’re out of regular polish.

What you’ll need to clean silver:

How to fix tarnished silver

How to clean tarnished silver with polish:

How to fix tarnished silver

The easiest and most effective way to make silver sparkle is with a targeted silver polish like Good Housekeeping Seal star Weiman Silver Polish. Follow product directions or this step-by-step guide to polish silver properly:

  1. Put a small amount of silver polish on a clean cloth, dampened if necessary.
  2. Rub the polish on your item in an up-and-down motion, not circular to avoid highlighting fine scratches.
  3. Turn the cloth frequently as you work, so tarnish isn’t deposited back on your item.
  4. Wash and rinse in warm water and buff with a clean, dry cloth to shine.
  5. Silver wipes and cloths are a less messy and more convenient option to liquid polish.

How to clean silver naturally with soap or baking soda:

How to fix tarnished silver

Without a doubt, targeted polish (mentioned above) is the most effective way to clean silver. But if you’re in a pinch, you can turn to your pantry for homemade remedies.

  • For silver that is dull, filmy, or not yet discolored, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water and dip in a soft cloth. Rub the item, then rinse in cool water and buff with a cloth until dry.
  • For silver that is heavily tarnished, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry.

How to store silver and prevent tarnish:

How to fix tarnished silver

Natural discoloration is unavoidable, but there are some ways to make sure that your flatware, jewelry, and trays don’t lose their luster as quickly. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to prevent tarnish:

Silver is used to create beautiful, heirloom-quality pieces such as vases, serving platters, cutlery, and candlesticks. These elegant metal accessories lend a luxurious touch to table settings and display shelves, but over time, exposure to light and air can make the shiny finish appear dull or tarnished. Since these pieces are meant to be displayed or used, silver items periodically need a little upkeep. Fortunately, cleaning silver doesn't have to be tedious. With a few pantry ingredients, such as salt and baking soda, you can make easy work of removing tarnish from silver items. Use our easy tips on how to clean silver (plus steps for how to polish silver and prevent tarnish) to get your accessories sparkling again.

How to Care for Silver

For routine care, a quick wash in soapy water can be a sufficient way to keep silver shiny. Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing soap in warm water and gently wash silver pieces. Rinse and buff dry with a soft cloth. In between cleanings, store silver in a cool, dry place to prevent excess tarnish.

How to Clean Silver Naturally

You can clean tarnished silver (even heavily tarnished pieces) with a simple homemade solution, and you likely already have all the ingredients that you need. Cleaning silver with a combination of aluminum foil, baking soda, and salt typically does the trick for both small and large silver pieces. Try these easy techniques to clean tarnished silver and watch grime wash away before your eyes.

What You’ll Need

  • Aluminum foil
  • Pan or pot 
  • Boiling water
  • Baking soda
  • Kosher salt
  • Soft cloth

How to Clean Small Silver Items:

Silverware and other small silver items are easy to clean in a foil-covered pot or pan using the following steps.

  1. Line a pot or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil covers the entire surface.
  2. Fill the pan with boiling water.  
  3. Add 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the water and stir. You should see bubbles form.
  4. Mix the solution, then carefully place silver pieces into the pan, ensuring that the pieces don't ram into one another or the sides of the pan.
  5. Let sit for up to 5 minutes.
  6. Once cool, remove and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

How to Clean Large Silver Items:

Use your sink as a vessel for cleaning larger silver items, such as bulky trays, candlesticks, and serving dishes.

  1. Line your sink with foil. Again, make sure to cover the entire surface, including the edges.
  2. Pour boiling water into the sink. Use enough water so that your pieces will be fully submerged.
  3. Add 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup salt to the water. Stir the mixture. Bubbles will form.
  4. Place silver pieces in the solution.
  5. Allow pieces to soak for up to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove items when cool and dry them off with a soft cloth.

Your silver pieces should now be shinier and free of tarnish. They're all set to use or display proudly, and you'll never be left wondering how to clean silver again!

More Ways to Clean Silver

There are many home remedies for cleaning silver. As with any new cleaning method, you should test these techniques on an inconspicuous spot first before diving in.

1. Clean Silver with Vinegar

For a more vigorous silver polishing, incorporate the cleaning power of vinegar, too. This method works especially well for cleaning silverware. After lining your pan or sink with foil, add 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon kosher salt to the aluminum-lined dish. Pour 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into the dish and the mixture will begin to bubble. Add 1 to 2 cups boiling water (you'll need enough liquid to completely submerge your silver pieces). Place pieces into the dish in a single layer. Soak lightly tarnished pieces for 30 seconds or up to 3 minutes for more heavily tarnished pieces. Remove items with tongs, dry, and buff.

2. Polish Silver with Ketchup

For extra sheen, try cleaning silver with ketchup. The condiment can be used as a paste to polish tarnished metals including brass and silver.

3. Remove Water Spots from Silver with Lemon Juice

Lemon is an effective natural cleaner that can be used on silver, too. Remove water spots from silverware by dipping a microfiber cloth in a bit of concentrated lemon juice and polish away. When storing, keep silver in a dry, cool spot and give delicate pieces some space so they aren't prone to running into one another.

4. Restore Shine to Silver with Toothpaste

Cleaning silver with toothpaste can produce sparkling results. Dilute toothpaste with a little water, polish the silver with a soft cloth, and rinse. Don't use toothpaste on silver-plated items, as it can corrode the finish.

How to Clean Silver-Plated and Antique Silver Items

Knowing how to clean silver-plated items, such as silver necklaces, rings, and other jewelry, can be a little tricky. Because these pieces only have silver plated over the surface of another metal, vigorous cleaning or submerging items in a liquid solution, along with regular wear and tear, can cause flaking. Test methods in an inconspicuous spot before proceeding with a deep clean. And if your silver jewelry has gemstones or other embellishments, simply use a few drops of mild soap or even baby shampoo mixed into water to wipe down before storing. Use cotton swabs or a soft bristle brush to get into nooks and crannies. If you use a brush, use a light hand so you don't unintentionally scratch the surface.

For antique silver or pieces with a high value (whether real dollars or sentimental), you may want to consult with an antique dealer, jeweler, or professional restoration company before cleaning silver. A pro can give you pointers specific to your piece and the best advice for how to clean your silver.

How to Polish Silver

While the natural silver cleaning methods outlined above will help restore shine, you'll also find plenty of commercial silver polish products online and in stores. Be sure to choose a cleaner that's specifically intended to clean sterling silver or silver-plated items, such as Wright's Silver Cream ($5, Bed Bath & Beyond). Some are formulated for specialty applications, while others are more general purpose. Always read the instructions before using silver polish products and follow all instructions carefully.

Knowing how to clean sterling silver, silver antiques, and silver jewelry isn't something that takes hours to learn. Routine care, preventative maintenance, a simple silver cleaning method, and a little polishing will help keep your silver pieces shining for years to come.

Unlike wiping down countertops or vacuuming the floors, cleaning your jewelry, especially those silver pieces that tarnish so easily, likely isn't one of the tasks at the top of your to-do list. Although simple to accomplish, this often-neglected cleaning project can be easy to put off because the silver pieces we wear every day, such as the silver earrings you never take off or a go-to necklace, don't always tarnish quickly. These frequently worn pieces typically only need an occasional polish. It's the pieces of finer silver jewelry that sit in boxes or on trays, growing dark from exposure and lack of use, that might need a more vigorous scrubbing. We'll show you how to clean silver jewelry with simple DIY methods that remove tarnish and restore shine.

How to Clean Silver Jewelry

Silver is a soft, lustrous metal, so gentle cleaning is key. A mix of warm water and mild dishwashing soap, or even baby shampoo, will usually do the trick for cleaning everyday jewelry. This method also works to clean gold jewelry.

  1. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap to warm water. Mix until bubbles form.
  2. Soak jewelry in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Use a soft-bristle brush, such as a toothbrush, to clean any crevices.
  4. Rinse jewelry in warm water.
  5. To dry, gently rub jewelry with a silver cloth ($8, Bed Bath & Beyond) or a microfiber towel. Avoid using paper towels, as these can scratch the silver.

Fine silver jewelry with diamonds or other precious gems can often be cleaned with soap and water as well. However, consider speaking to a jeweler before cleaning valuables or have the piece professionally cleaned to be safe.

How to Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry

The silver pieces in your jewelry box are likely made of sterling silver rather than pure silver. Sterling silver typically contains about 7.5% copper, making it stronger than pure 99.9% silver (which is rare) but also more likely to tarnish. (Copper is the primary culprit behind tarnish on sterling silver jewelry.)

To tell if your jewelry is sterling silver versus silver-plated, check the clasp for a marking that says 9.25, 925/1000, Sterling, S/S, or Sterling 9.25. If your necklace or bracelet doesn't have these markings, it's probably silver-plated.

If soap and water don't do the trick, you can try other DIY methods for cleaning silver that utilize common pantry and household staples, including baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil, white vinegar, salt, and toothpaste.

Clean Sterling Silver with Baking Soda

Mix two parts baking soda to one part water to make a paste, then gently rub the mixture onto the jewelry. Let the paste dry completely to remove the tarnish. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth or microfiber towel. You can also follow a similar method using cornstarch.

Mix Lemon and Olive Oil

Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 tsp. olive oil. Dip a clean cloth in the solution and gently rub the silver until it shines. Rinse and dry.

Combine Vinegar and Baking Soda

Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 Tbsp. baking soda together, then let your silver jewelry soak in the mixture for two to three hours before rinsing and polishing.

Clean Silver Jewelry with Toothpaste

A small amount of diluted toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush can do wonders for cleaning sterling silver jewelry. Just make sure the toothpaste is not a whitening formula, and don't use this method on anything silver-plated.

How to Clean Silver Rings

Silver maintains its shine best when worn frequently, so everyday all-silver rings tend to maintain a certain level of daily sparkle. But rings that have been set aside for long periods of time (or not stored properly) might require extra care.

If soap and water aren't enough, you can use a clean toothbrush to scrub any detail work that remains tarnished. The DIY methods described above can also work to clean silver rings.

The best method for cleaning silver rings will depend on the other materials in the piece, such as turquoise, pearls, and other gemstones or precious metals. These could be damaged by certain cleaning methods. Vinegar, for example, can harm porous stones, and baking soda can scratch soft metals. Again, if the ring is precious, consult a professional before cleaning.

How to Clean Silver Chains

Silver chains on necklaces and bracelets can tarnish easily from contact with lotions, perfumes, and perspiration, and these delicate pieces often need special care. Luckily, you can use the same method used to clean silver flatware for chains.

The tarnish on silver is often silver sulfide, which is created when sulfur atoms combine with silver. This cleaning method uses aluminum foil to pull the sulfur atoms away from the silver to make the piece sparkle. Note that this strategy is effective, but it can smell unpleasant.

  1. Line the entire surface of a large bowl or pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Fill the pan with boiling water.
  3. Add 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 teaspoons kosher salt to the water and stir. Bubbles will form.
  4. Place silver jewelry in the solution and mix gently, taking care not to hit the pieces together or against the sides of the pan.
  5. Let sit for up to 5 minutes.
  6. Remove and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

How to Prevent Tarnish on Silvery Jewelry

The key to tarnish-free silver jewelry is prevention. Although you can't completely protect silver from air, heat, or moisture, you can do your best to limit exposure.

First, all silver jewelry should be stored properly in soft, anti-tarnish bags ($14, The Container Store) in a cool, dark place. The lower the humidity, the better. Some people add a piece of chalk, a packet of charcoal, or even silica gel to the bags to help remove moisture. Extra moisture is also why leaving jewelry in the bathroom is not a good idea. Remove rings, earrings, and other silver pieces before showering, swimming, or doing dishes, and be sure to put your jewelry on last, after all your perfumes and lotions have had time to sink in.

Another somewhat surprising way to prevent tarnish is to simply wear your silver. The daily friction of life actually does wonders for making silver shine.

How to fix tarnished silver

Whether it’s silver jewelry, tableware or your valuable coin collection, you’ll need to know how to clean silver to restore its shine. Over time, silver will naturally tarnish or start looking dull. However, knowing how to clean silver can help bring its shine back without damaging it.

Tarnish (when silver discolors) is essentially a chemical reaction caused by exposure to air or moisture. Similar to knowing how to clean stainless steel without damaging it, removing tarnish from a soft metal can be tricky. This is because cleaning metal items too harshly can remove some silver or damage their thin plating.

Check out how to clean jewelry if you want to bring the sparkle back and also beware of the 7 things you should never clean with white vinegar

Fortunately, there are plenty of natural DIY solutions for cleaning silver that are less abrasive or toxic than commercial polishers. Best of all, you’re likely to find these common ingredients at home, saving you time and money. Find out how to clean silver to restore its shine with these quick and easy steps.

How to clean silver with baking soda and water

— First, mix three parts baking soda to one part water to create a paste.

— Next, gently rub the mixture onto the silver with a soft, lint-free or microfiber cloth. Ensure to work the paste into the crevices or awkward spots, turning the cloth over as you go. For smaller items like rings, use an old toothbrush to clean with.

— Then, rinse the silver thoroughly and buff dry with a microfiber cloth.

How to clean silver with aluminum foil and baking soda

— First take a large bowl to fit all of your tarnished silver. Line the bowl with aluminum foil.

— Next, carefully fill the bowl by two thirds with hot water and baking soda, using one tablespoon of baking soda per one cup of water.

— Then add the silver to the bowl, letting it soak in the solution for up to 10 minutes. This will allow the chemical reaction to break down the tarnish.

— Finally, remove the silver from the solution before drying with a soft cloth.

How to clean silver with dish soap and water

— First, fill a bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Then place your tarnished silver in the bowl and allow to soak for about 15 minutes.

— Next, rub the silver gently with a soft cloth to clean, before rinsing thoroughly with clean water.

— Finally, dry and buff with a soft cloth or microfiber towel.

How to clean silver with white distilled vinegar and baking soda

— Similar to the baking soda and water method, mix half a cup of white vinegar with two tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl of lukewarm water.

— Next, soak your silver in the bowl and leave for around two to three hours for the chemical reaction to get to work.

— Once this has lifted any tarnish, rinse thoroughly with cold water before drying with a soft cloth.

How to clean silver with toothpaste

— First, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to a microfiber cloth or old toothbrush.

— Then, rub the toothpaste onto the silver in circular motions to polish and clean any tarnish.

— Leave on for around 5 minutes before rinsing the toothpaste off thoroughly with warm water and then dry.

Choose a plain toothpaste that contains no tartar control, whitening agents or any ‘extras’ which may be too abrasive for silver and will scratch.

How to clean silver with lemon juice and bath salt

— Simply squeeze one lemon into a bowl and add four tablespoons of bath salts and add hot water.

— Next, place your silver in the solution and leave to soak for up to 5 minutes.

— Then take the silver out to rub off the tarnish with a soft cloth before rinsing completely and drying.

How to clean silver with hand sanitizer

— First, squeeze a few drops of hand sanitizer on a soft lint-free cloth, and gently rub away the tarnish on your silver items.

— Then, rinse with warm water before drying with a clean cloth.

While alcohol-based sanitizers are good for removing tarnish on silver, don’t use this on jewelry with encrusted mineral stones. The harsh ingredients might damage the stone, which could be costly.

How often should I clean silver?

Generally, this will depend on how badly tarnished your silver gets. But it’s recommended to polish silver 2-6 times a year to keep it in pristine condition. Alongside DIY cleaning methods, you could always invest in a good silver polisher. We can recommend Weiman Silver Polish and Cleaner ($7, Amazon (opens in new tab) ) to restore its luster.

For more top tips on making things shine again, you may also want to read how to clean jewelry and how to clean stainless steel without damaging it.

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features.

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!

How to fix tarnished silver

Silver is a precious metal that shines brightly at first but tarnishes quickly as it reacts with naturally occurring sulfur in the air. It’s a process called oxidation, and it’s pretty much inevitable. Your jewelry or flatware needs regular maintenance if you want to keep the silver from turning dull and black over time.

Erin Nelson, a jewelry designer from Cape Cod, MA, very much understands the struggle of silver maintenance.

“The [commercial silver cleaner] alternatives are usually pretty harsh chemicals that I wouldn’t want to breathe in, and I wouldn’t recommend other people do,” Nelson says. She instead recommends this tried-and-true process before resorting to any commercial polish or silver cleaner on the market.

Grab your silver jewelry or flatware and head to the kitchen, where you’ll likely have everything you need to restore the shine.

How to clean silver

Nelson subscribes to an old-school method of cleaning silver that’s not only easy but also environmentally friendly. And all you need to do is soak your silver in a bath of aluminum foil, baking soda, and warm water. “You don’t have to put a ton of elbow grease in there,” says Nelson, “It’s not really polishing as much as just letting [the bath] do its job.” Here’s how to do it:

  1. Wash the silver with water and mild dish soap. This will remove any fingerprints and surface dirt from the silver.
  2. Line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil. The foil is the magic ingredient here — it will absorb the tarnish from the jewelry — so you can really use any container. It all depends on how much water it takes to submerge your silver. A baking dish is fine for jewelry and flatware, but you’ll need something deeper like a plastic bucket to hold cups or other larger items.
  3. Fill the dish about halfway with warm or hot water and a tablespoon of baking soda. The water will start to bubble as it reacts with the baking soda, which raises the temperature of the water. Some say to use boiling water, which is fine — the hotter water will just make the baking soda start bubbling faster. If you’ve poured too much water, it might start to bubble over, so be careful if you do use boiling water. Keep a towel nearby or put the dish in the sink for easier cleanup.
  4. Add silver to the dish. Let your silver sit in the bubbling bath for a while. As it soaks, you might detect an odor like rotting eggs. This is normal. It’s the smell of sulfur that is released as the tarnish is removed.
  5. Make sure all surfaces of the silver touch the foil. Again, the foil is the star of the show here, so all parts of the silver need to touch it at some point. If you use hot or boiling water, use tongs or another utensil to move and flip the pieces.
  6. Repeat if necessary. When the tin foil turns dark brown or black, Nelson says it’s time to change it and do a new bath if necessary to finish removing the tarnish. However, your silver could very well be cleaned in the first bath alone. If it is, remove the silver, rinse, and let dry.

Quick tip: Nelson notes that while this DIY method is gentle on the silver itself, it might damage gems, so do not use it on silver jewelry with stones.

Other methods for cleaning and polishing silver

If you’ve got large amounts of silver or simply need a backup method to get rid of heavier tarnish, here are a few more methods to try:

Vinegar and baking soda

These are the dynamic duo of household cleansers. Mix a small amount of white vinegar with baking soda to form a paste, then rub it on the silver with a soft cloth to remove tarnish. Rinse it off and let dry.

Toothpaste

Skip the minty gels and go for a regular paste. Nelson recommends one with baking soda, as it’s gentle on teeth so it should also behave with your silver. She also says to do a spot check to confirm that you aren’t doing more harm than good with this technique.

Ketchup

Yes, the same stuff you put on a hamburger could save your silver. That’s because the acid in the tomatoes breaks down the tarnish. Use a towel to gently rub ketchup onto tarnished areas. For stubborn stains or heavily tarnished pieces, let the ketchup sit for roughly 20 minutes before rinsing it away. Use plastic gloves if you don’t want to get your hands all goopy, and be sure to rinse the silver well when it comes out of its ketchup bath.

If you’d prefer not to have ketchup-covered silver, opt for a cola bath. That’s right, the same stuff you might like to drink is acidic enough to destroy tarnish and even rust. Pour the soda — you can even use diet — into a dish or cup and submerge the silver. The cola will work quickly, so take a peek after a few minutes to see how it’s cleaning up. When you’re satisfied with the results, remove and rinse thoroughly.

Commercial silver cleaners

Any supermarket or home improvement store will have a number of polishes, dips, and other solutions that can clean jewelry and household silver. Nelson says to use gloves with any liquid-based cleaners, as it’s “impossible” not to get them on your hands, plus they might cause a rash for some people.

Nelson swears by a gentler commercial option called the Sunshine Polishing Cloth. It’s a soft reusable cloth that contains cleaner, so all you have to do is wipe your silver. It’s a great option for touching up jewelry between uses. The cloth will get dirty over time, but do not wash it per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Protecting silver in between uses

Silver begins to tarnish as soon as it is exposed to air, and it only gets worse when perspiration, perfume, or humidity enter the mix.

Nelson recommends keeping silver sealed away in between uses. At the very least, put jewelry or flatware in a box and close the lid, though a zip-top bag will also work fine. Don’t keep silver necklaces out or hang them on a hook for display.

Quick tip: Store your silver with a piece of chalk, says Nelson. Chalk will absorb some of the moisture in the air and help stave off tarnishing.

Insider’s takeaway

Dull or tarnished silver need not be banished to the junk drawer or a garage sale now that you have these cleaning methods in your arsenal. Any of these DIY strategies are good for regular silver maintenance, but jewelry designer Erin Nelson recommends submerging silver in a bath of baking soda and warm water in a vessel lined with aluminum foil. The foil will absorb the tarnish, and you won’t have to do much if any scrubbing. Keep silver sealed up between uses to slow down the oxidation process.

Our cleaning customers often ask us whether we have any cleaning tips for how to clean silver at home. Cleaning silver at home isn’t too difficult, and with these silver cleaning tips, it has never been easier. Especially as most of the cleaning tips below require items that you likely already have in your cupboards. So grab your silver cutlery, tableware and jewellery and find out the best ways of cleaning your silver at home below.

How to fix tarnished silver

Aluminium foil and laundry detergent

This silver cleaning hack is perfect for slightly tarnished silverware and silver jewellery. It’s very simple just line a pot or a bowl with aluminium foil and add hot water. Add a tablespoon of laundry detergent (liquid) and stir until mixed. Drop all your silver into the bowl and leave for a minute. Take your silver out using kitchen tongs, rinse it with warm water and let it dry on a paper towel. The tarnish on the silver will be gone, and a natural shine will have been achieved.

Vinegar

Using vinegar in your sliver cleaning routine is a great way of speeding up the cleaning process. Even the most tarnished pieces of silverware can come back to life just by using vinegar. The combination of bicarbonate of soda, aluminium foil and vinegar make for a deadly foe to tarnish and will leave your silverware looking beautiful once more. However, vinegar is powerful stuff, so reserve it for your most tarnished pieces.

Bicarbonate of soda and aluminium foil

How to fix tarnished silver

This silver cleaning tip is one of the best to have in your arsenal. You can use baking soda in so many cleaning tasks. Still, it works particularly well for cleaning silver cutlery, candlesticks and tableware. You will require to cover the bottom of a baking pan with foil making sure the shiny side is up. You’ll want to use ceramic or glass cookware for this and not metal. This prevents any unwanted chemical reactions. Then fill with water and baking soda. For every gallon of water, you need about 1.5 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda. Then bring this mixture to the boil and pop your tarnished silver in for 15 seconds. Remove the silver using tongs and leave it on a paper towel to cool down. Repeat the process to fully remove heavily tarnished silver. However, this is a fantastic silver cleaning method for larger items. You can, of course, use a smaller baking tin and a smaller mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda for small silver items.

Water and cornflour

If your silver has lost its shine, water and cornflour can be used to restore it. Just make a thick paste with cornflour and water and apply it to your silver items. Then rub the items off with a towel to polish the surface. This will easily restore the shine to silver jewellery and silver cutlery.

Lemon juice and olive oil

This silver cleaning technique is perfect for a quick spruce up of your silver jewellery and tableware. Mix one teaspoon of olive oil with 125ml of lemon juice. You will need to dip a cloth into the earlier made mix and polish your silver. Once you achieve a wonderful shine, rinse and allow to dry.

How to fix tarnished silverHand sanitiser

As a lot of us have a lot more hand sanitiser around nowadays, it offers a quick solution if you need to polish a silver ring on the go. Squeeze a small amount of hand sanitiser onto a soft paper towel and gently rub your jewellery. This will remove any tarnishing and bring back the shine of your silver again. You shouldn’t use hand sanitiser on any jewellery that is encrusted with mineral stones as some of the ingredients in hand sanitiser may damage the stones.

Vodka

You can use vodka as a soaking solution for your silver. This method won’t remove heavy tarnish, but it does a good job of bringing lightly tarnished silver back to life. Just pop your vodka in a cup and soak your silver for about 5 minutes. Then dip a cloth into the mixture, remove your jewellery and wipe it. This silver cleaning trick is very easy, and it gives good results.

Pour some beer into a cup and let your silver soak in it for about 10 minutes. Then, remove your silver and rub with a clean cloth. This silver cleaning method is a very well-known trick, and it works surprisingly well. Sure, it won’t get rid of very heavy tarnish, but it can certainly bring silver back to life if it is lightly tarnished.

Bicarbonate of soda and water

As we said, bicarbonate of soda is one of the greatest cleaning products to have in your home. If your silver jewellery has stubborn, built-up tarnish, make a thick paste from bicarbonate of soda and lukewarm water. Apply the paste to any tarnished spots and leave it for 3 minutes. Then gently rub the paste to remove it. Use a soft toothbrush to reach into small and hardly reachable areas or it can also be done with a paper towel. Rinse your jewellery in cold water to remove the rest of the paste and then buff with circular motions for a lovely polish.

Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda

How to fix tarnished silver

If you’ve used the bicarbonate of soda and water trick above, but the paste hasn’t provided the shiny silver you were after, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Replace the water with vinegar in your paste. The vinegar will remove heavy tarnish, and the bicarbonate of soda will lightly buff your silver to a wonderful shine!

We hope the silver cleaning tips above help you remove tarnish and bring the shine back to your silver jewellery and tableware.

More cleaning tips

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How to fix tarnished silver

How to fix tarnished silver

This tutorial on How To Clean Silver and Remove Tarnish is a lifesaver! It only takes a few minutes to do and seconds for results to happen.

I’ve had this collection of silver spoons and serving pieces for years, and never really got around to cleaning them. Truly, I don’t even know where they came from. We didn’t really need to use them, so they’ve just been sitting in an old vase I had for years. I recently decided to purge any items from our home that we weren’t using, and decided to either clean them or donate them. I had read about a super simple method to clean silver, but had no idea if it would work or not. I tried it and HOLY MOLY! It not only worked, but it literally took the tarnish away in seconds right before my eyes. F

If you’d like to see the process and how well it works in real time, check out the video below! As you can see in the video, it works on sterling silver jewelry too. I’m not so sure about silver plated jewelry though!

How to fix tarnished silver

These are the silver pieces that I’ve been holding on to. I kind of like the way the looked tucked in this vase, but it was high time to let them shine.

How to fix tarnished silver

I started by filling a pot with water and adding a scrunched up ball of aluminum foil. yep, the stuff we use in our kitchens every day. Next, I let the water come to a rolling boil.

How to fix tarnished silver

Once the water was boiling, I added about a tablespoon of baking soda. I wish I had done this a bit differently to be honest, because I made a major mess. Next time I will use a large soup pot instead of a smaller one and I’ll only fill it half way with water, because once you add the baking soda, the water boils more heavily and expands, so there should be plenty of room for that to happen. My water/baking soda boiled over the edge of the pot and onto my stove. The good thing is that it was pretty easy to clean up once everything cooled.

How to fix tarnished silver

WARNING. Be very careful when dipping and removing the silver from the hot water. I used a pair of tongs to remove the silver from the hot water and placed them in cool water immediately and let cool before handling.

Next, dip your silver pieces into the water, baking soda, foil mixture and allow to sit for about 30 seconds to a minute. Using tongs, remove the silverware from the boiling water and rinse in cool water.

How to fix tarnished silver

The results were seriously crazy! I had no idea they would come that clean and am so glad I decided to keep the silver pieces and try to clean them. Check out the side by side before and after below!

How to fix tarnished silver

These were two similar spoons from my collection. isn’t the difference between the before and after crazy? I’ll be keeping my eye out for more silver pieces at flea markets and thrift shops to add to my collection now! I just love that I didn’t have to use any crazy chemicals to clean my silver and it was sooo easy!

How to fix tarnished silver

Want to get your jewelry clean too? See my similar method showing How to Clean Jewelry Naturally HERE!

How to fix tarnished silver

If you have any tarnished pieces of copper, check out How To Clean Copper Naturally HERE!

How to fix tarnished silver

We all know that silver jewelry looks old and rusty over time, and the most common reason is unavoidable: air.

While you can shine silver manually, it takes muscle and time. It even removes some of the silver itself during the abrasive process of polishing, according to the University of Wisconsin chemistry department.

How to fix tarnished silver

How to clean your silver jewelry in a snap

So, why does it happen? The tarnish develops as a chemical reaction when silver combines with sulfur and creates silver sulfide, darkening the surface. The resulting color can range in color from yellow to black, which not the most attractive way to show off your jewels.

Geek out with us as we show you how to reverse this chemical reaction in a jiffy to with items you already have at home.

What you’ll need:

  • A dish or bowl
  • Aluminum foil
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda for each cup of water

What you’ll do:

  1. Line the bottom of a dish or bowl with aluminum foil.
  2. Bring water to a roaring boil (it should be enough to fill that bowl or dish).
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water. Expect that the solution may bubble and froth a bit.
  4. Place the piece of silver jewelry in the dish, making sure it’s touching the aluminum foil. This is essential for the chemical reaction to occur.
  5. Pour the solution of baking soda and boiling water into dish.
  6. Let sit for two to 10 minutes, depending on the level of tarnish.
  7. Allow it to dry . and be amazed!

If you’re in shock and wondering how it works, here’s the deal: It’s actually reversing the chemical reaction that made your silver tarnish in the first place.

During this electrochemical reaction, the silver sulfide atoms transfer from the jewelry to the aluminum. In other words: Your ring will be free from the sulfur that darkened it in the first place. Pretty crazy, right?

The best part? This process works for any object made from silver or plated with silver. Let science do all of the heavy scrubbing, so you can enjoy the shiny silver lining of jewelry that looks like new.

No matter how well you care for your silver items, they naturally tarnish over time. Here are seven different methods you can follow to clean silver items at home.

How to fix tarnished silver

How to fix tarnished silver

Silver jewellery, idols and utensils tend to lose their luster and shine over time. This is tarnish – a result of a chemical reaction between silver and sulphur in the air. However, in order to keep your jewellery in its perfect silver state, you must clean it and regularly take care of it. Fortunately, cleaning silver doesn’t have to be tedious. With a few household items, such as salt and baking soda, you can easily remove tarnish from silver items.

Here are some simple and inexpensive ways to remove tarnish, polish and clean silver items. No matter which method you choose to clean your silver there is a good rule of thumb you can follow: If the piece of silver you are cleaning is valuable or an antique, then first do a spot test in an inconspicuous spot before treating the entire item. just to be safe.

Here are some trusted home remedies that you can follow to clean silver and restore shine, have a look.

How to fix tarnished silver

1. Baking soda and aluminum foil

This is one of the popular and easy ways to clean silver jewellery. Now, if your silver jewellery turns yellow or black you can reverse the effect by using this very simple method. You don’t need to buy any expensive product, you can do it with items you already have at home. In the toughest of tarnish situations this low cost and easy method will clean your jewellery within 30 seconds – 3 minutes (depending on the state of your silver).

First, bring the water to a boil. (Keep in mind that it should be enough water to reach the top of the bowl). Next, take your bowl/vessel and line it with aluminum foil, keeping the shiny side up. After that, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda with each cup of water into the bowl and the solution will bubble.

Now, instantly place the silver jewellery in the dish, ensure that the jewellery is touching the aluminum foil – this is an essential part of the process for the chemical reaction to occur. Leave in the solution for 2-5 minutes.

In case, if the level of tarnishing is really bad then you can leave it in up to 10 minutes. At last, remove the jewellery safely; rinse under cool water and clean it with the dry cleaning cloth. That’s it! Be prepared to be amazed!

How to fix tarnished silver

2. Lemon and Salt bath

This method is mostly used to clean the idols and puja utensils on a daily basis. To use this method you just need to squeeze a lemon into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of salt and hot water and placed the tarnished bracelet to rest in there for 5 minutes. Once done, remove and rub with a soft cloth. Doing so will help you to remove the tarnish.

Note: A white silver cleaning cloth can be helped in lifting the tarnish. With regular cloth, you need to put too much effort and does not bring perfect results.

How to fix tarnished silver

3. Ketchup

You can also use Ketchup to clean silver items at home. You just need to squeeze a small amount of ketchup onto a paper towel and rub gently over the tarnished areas. In case, if your silver isn’t getting shinier, let the ketchup sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then rub with a soft cloth and rinse clean. If you are using this method for items that have textured details, such as candlesticks or fancy silverware, you can use a toothbrush to clean between the crevices.

How to fix tarnished silver

4. Laundry detergent

Laundry detergent is also an old and popular remedy to remove tarnish. You just need to pour one small cup of detergent into a bowl of hot water and place the silver jewellery inside. Leave it for 5 to 7 minutes, remove and rub with a cloth. The laundry detergent reacts with the water creating a foamy substance. It will lift the darkness and cleans dirt or gunk from the jewellery – the best part, it smells great!

How to fix tarnished silver

5. Toothpaste

Toothpaste is one of the easy DIY silver cleaning methods. Just take a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a dish and rub onto the jewellery or silverware with circular motions to polish it and clean off the tarnish. Leave it for 5 minutes and then rinse off the toothpaste with water. After following this procedure, the silver item gets cleaned.

How to fix tarnished silver

6. Vinegar

Vinegar, water and baking soda together are a great option for many things including your tarnished silver. To use this method you just need to mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl of lukewarm water. Let the silver soak for two to three hours. Next, rinse with cold water and let it dry.

How to fix tarnished silver

7. Hand Sanitizer

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, hand sanitizers are the most easily available item. However, hand sanitizer not only fights germs but also works a great technique for getting dirt, grime and tarnish off silver. Squeeze a few drops on a dry cloth and begin to polish the silver.

As long as silver is exposed to air and light, it will tarnish so to store silver and slow down the tarnish process. You can use your hair conditioner on your silver as a preventative layer or storing your silver in an anti-tarnish bag made from a tarnish-resistant silversmiths’ cloth or creating an easy DIY workaround.