7 Tricks to Clean Your Silver at Home

November 25, 2019
To keep silver items from tarnishing and avoid spending a lot of money restoring their original shine, it's best to give them a light cleaning once a month.

There are some types of silver that hardly tarnish at all because they’re made with an electroplating process that leaves a thin layer of rhodium on the surface of the metal. But a lot of people own antique silver, which darkens over time because of dust and other environmental agents. So, it helps to know some tricks to clean your silver at home.

Contrary to popular belief, silver doesn’t rust. What actually happens is that it reacts with hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere, which is what causes it to tarnish.

Luckily, as well as being able to make them shine with the different metal polishes available on the market, you can also improve their look with these homemade tips.

How to clean your silver at home: some tips to help you

Before putting into practice our tips to clean silver at home, we want to highlight some basic care to prevent its deterioration. First of all, you shouldn’t pile up your jewelry or silver objects, as this can cause scratches or imperfections.

Also, try to clean and dry them well after each use (especially if they are crockery or cutlery). Use mild soaps and a cotton cloth. Avoid all abrasive sponges.

Jewellery, containers, and crockery should be kept away from possible concentrations of hydrogen sulphide. For example, you shouldn’t leave fruit in silver trays or dishes, as its decomposition can deteriorate the item in this way.

Have you found it impossible to remove that opaque aspect in your silver objects? Then try one of the tricks that we’ll share below. Keep in mind that they come from popular culture and, because of this, there isn’t any evidence to prove their effectiveness. However, as they are safe methods to apply, it won’t be a problem to try them out.

1. Saltwater

salt-water

You can use a simple saltwater solution can to clean smaller items like chains and other jewelry.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup water

Directions

  • Combine the salt with one cup boiling water and allow your silver items to soak overnight.
  • In the morning, discard the liquid and polish the metal with a dry cloth.

You might like:

10 Cleaning Tips to Make Old Items Look New

2. Baking soda and vinegar

The combination of baking soda and vinegar is one of the most practical cleaning mixtures to polish all kinds of things around the home.

Their properties remove the tarnish that covers silver items and leaves them clean and shining just like new.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup white vinegar

Directions

  • Slowly pour the baking soda into the vinegar (it will start to fizz).
  • Once the baking soda is completely dissolved, dip the silver in and scrub it with a clean cloth.
  • Finish by polishing it with a clean, dry cloth. Repeat the process if necessary.

3. Toothpaste

toothpaste

This is one of the many alternative uses for toothpaste. It makes a great polish for silver and other metal objects.

Ingredients

  • Toothpaste
  • Hot water
  • Mild soap

Directions

  • Wash the object to be polished in hot water with mild soap and rub it with a liberal amount of toothpaste.
  • After polishing for 5 minutes, rinse and dry well with an absorbent cloth.

4. Cream of tartar

Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is also excellent for cleaning silver, but it’s not very well known. It can work wonders for removing the tarnish as it removes the dust, removes the opaqueness, and will leave the metal with an incredible shine.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • 1 liter water

Directions

  • Combine the cream of tartar, salt and water in a saucepan.
  • Mix everything well and set over medium-low heat.
  • Once boiling, add the silver and let it sit in the boiling mixture for 5 minutes.
  • Afterwards, take out the metal and let cool before polishing with a dry cloth.

5. Aluminum foil

aluminum-foil

Using aluminum foil is one of the most popular tricks for removing tarnish and helping to leave your silver looking clean and brand new.

Ingredients

  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot water
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Directions

  • Take a large sheet of aluminum foil and use it to line the inside of a large bowl.
  • Fill the bowl with hot water and add the salt.
  • Submerge your silver items and let them soak for 10 minutes.
  • Dry and polish them with a soft cloth to leave them shining like new.

6. Banana peel

The inside of a banana peel contains substances that help clean metal objects.

Directions

  • Take a fresh banana peel and use it to polish your silver.
  • You may need to repeat the process several times with a few different banana peels.

7. Lemon

lemon

This citrus fruit has many uses around the home. It’s great for cleaning and restoring silver.

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • A teaspoon of salt

Directions

  • Cut a lemon in half, dip it in the salt and use it to polish the surface of the metal.
  • Let it work for a few minutes, then rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.

Read more:

How to Use Lemon and Other Natural Cleaning Products

A few more tips…

Whenever you’re cleaning, it’s really important to protect your hands with gloves and work in a well ventilated area. Some of these tricks to clean silver could release gases could that are harmful to your health if they fill up too much of the air.

To keep your silver from becoming tarnished in the first place, give your items a light cleaning at least once a month.

  • Somerville Madeleine. (2016). How to polish silver in a few minutes – the green way. The Guardian.
    Available in https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/07/how-to-polish-silver-the-green-way
  • Budak, N. H., Aykin, E., Seydim, A. C., Greene, A. K., & Guzel-Seydim, Z. B. (2014). Functional Properties of Vinegar. Journal of Food Science, 79(5). https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.12434
  • Griffin, A. Cantrell, R. (July, 2014.). Homemade Household Cleaners. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Available in http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY144900.pdf