Having silver jewelry, serving ware, plates, and more is beautiful to look at. But after a while, no matter how much we take care of our silver, it starts to get smudged, dirty, and looks old. Cleaning it is not as simple as wiping it down because smudges tend to stick and just move around. No need to fuss with remedies that don’t work because we discuss how to clean silver for every different occasion right here.
The good news is that silver doesn’t require too much tenderness, love, and care. Once you polish it off the right way the first time, you are good to go for a while before you need to worry about it again. If you over-polish your silver, you can end up wearing it down since the process is abrasive no matter how gentle you are.
So, let’s talk about how to do it the right way!
What Can Ruin Silver?
The first piece of business is understanding what can tarnish silver. You’ll notice that after some time your silver jewelry or other objects may start to change color slightly. At first, it may appear to be a yellowish tint and the color will move to a light purple then darken significantly. The process is called tarnishing. It can look scary and cause panic because it appears to have ruined the silver. However, the good news is that silver tarnish can be removed through a proper cleaning process.
How Does Silver Tarnish?
Ultimately, silver can tarnish from a lot of different chemicals when it is exposed to them in combination with oxygen. The most notable one is sulfur. Sulfur is all around us and it is more present in industrial areas. But we also see it in our foods and household products such as shampoos and perfumes. The other big culprit is moisture in the air. Dry climates will always see that silver tarnishes a lot slower.
Other culprits of silver tarnishing:
- Chlorine such as pool water
- Sterling silver that has copper reacts more to oxygen
- Different acids (this is why silver wrapped in tissue paper blackens)
- Skin can also cause blackening depending on the acidity of it
Many things that can tarnish your silver because many products have acid and sulfur in it. Being mindful of where you put your silver is the best way to preserve it.
Quick Tips For Slowing Down Tarnishing
Before we get into how to clean your silver, let’s address some preventative tips that can help slow the process down or keep you from having to clean it regularly. If you are always tarnishing your silver, the silver itself will get more beat up every time you have to clean it. The less you clean it in some cases the better.
- Wearing any silver jewelry can keep it from tarnishing faster in some cases. This mostly applies to sterling silver because the oils from your skin can keep it from tarnishing through oxidation. However, pure silver is different, and oils and acid from perfumes can cause it to speed up. If you want to put perfume on or lotion, don’t do it while you already have the jewelry on. Put jewelry on afterward.
- Do not swim either in chlorine pool water or seawater as both will affect on the jewelry. Keeping it at home is the best idea.
- Keep your silver in an odorless, dry, and protected area to keep it from being exposed to the common culprits that promote tarnishing in the first place. You can use silica to remove moisture from drawers or cabinets.
- Stay away from tissue paper, rubber, and other materials that contain acid. Also, do not mix different metals in your jewelry boxes.
How to Clean Silver
Ok, so now that we know what causes some of the damage let’s get into what we need to clean silver and how to approach pop silver items. Knowing how to clean silver jewelry at home or how to clean silver plates can save you some money and a trip to the jewelry cleaner.
Using a Silver Polishing Cloth
If you want to know how to polish silver jewelry, a polishing cloth will help you get the job done with ease. You can find a silver polishing microfiber cloth at a local jewelry store. They are inexpensive and usually pre-infused with a silver polishing compound that helps remove any tarnish. One side will be your treated side of the cloth, and the other will be a buffer.
- Hold the silver carefully with clean hands and use your compound side of the cloth first. Wipe all around the surface, making sure to rub thoroughly.
- Once going over all the surface area, use the buffing side to remove all the compound from the silver. You won’t notice the build-up of the compound on the silver. It’s light but still needs to be wiped up.
- Apply light pressure while you buff out the smudges to get the silver to a shiny look.
That’s it! Simple as that.
Homemade Remedies For Cleaning Silver
Not everyone has a polishing cloth handy but there are some simple DIY home remedies that you can use to clean silver. Using foil, vinegar, and coke are just a few to name when you are trying to figure out how to clean silver jewelry at home. Let’s take a look at each method and how it can be more useful.
How to Clean Silver with Baking Soda
Arm and Hammer baking soda will tell you right on their website how to polish your silver. Baking soda is a great household product because it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you without having to scrub too hard on the silver. Here’s what they suggest.
- Baking Soda
- Small Bowl
- Clean soft small sponge or cloth
- In your small bowl, pour about half a box of baking soda in and mix with water. You want it to turn into a paste and not be too runny. It also needs to be thoroughly wet.
- Once the paste is good to go, dip the soft cloth or sponge into your paste and start rubbing it onto the silver material.
- Depending on how tarnished the silver is you can leave the paste on for up to 10 minutes. The more tarnished the longer you should leave it on.
- Use cool water to rinse the banking soda off the silver.
- Dry the silver and buff it with a soft cloth to make it shine.
How to Clean Silver with Foil
The aluminum foil recipe works wonders when it comes to polishing your tarnished silver. Here you can avoid using chemical cleaners and instead rely on the reaction of materials when combined. This method can work if you want to know how to polish a silver ring or how to polish a silver necklace.
- Aluminum foil
- Baking Soda
- Combine one liter of hot water, one tablespoon of baking soda, and lastly, one piece of aluminum foil, and bring to a boil.
- After, drop your silver in the pot carefully and leave for 10 seconds. You can leave it a little longer if it is very tarnished.
- Use kitchen tongs to bring it out and voila, it should look like new. Wipe down with a cloth.
How to Clean Silver Chain with Vinegar
Vinegar is another excellent way to clean your silver. Here you will also want to use baking soda to help amp up the cleaning process. It’s recommended that if you are working with antique silver items avoid this recipe. It’s most recommended for sterling silver jewelry and cutlery.
- White Distilled Vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Place all your silver items in a bowl and cover them all with white distilled vinegar.
- Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda into the bowl for every cup of white distilled vinegar you use.
- Let the silverware and jewelry soak for up to an hour. When finished, drain and use a soft cloth to wipe away the mixture and buff out the silver.
How to Clean Silver with Coke
If you have a bottle of Coca-Cola hanging around the house and you aren’t keen on finishing it, there are some other great uses for it. Coke can help you clean all your silver and get rid of the purple tint that makes it look so dirty.
- Small Bowl
Coke is one of the easiest materials to work with. You simply need to fill a small bowl up with Coke and let your silver items soak in there for a few minutes. You don’t need to leave it in there too long because Coke is acidic. When silver gets overpolished with chemicals or acid, it can remove the tarnish but also remove the shine. This leaves it looking flat and dull.
Using Toothpaste to Clean Silver
Everyone has some toothpaste in their house and it can be a great way to clean your silver. All you need to do for this remedy is squeeze a tiny bit of non-abrasive and non-gel toothpaste onto a soft cloth and rub it around the silver. Leave it on for about five minutes and simply rinse it off with cold water when done. Buff it out with a handkerchief or cloth! It’s important to know that you should never use a toothbrush to clean your silver. This is too abrasive and can cause you to scrub away the shining coating.
Bring on the Shine
Your silver shouldn’t sit collecting dust and getting tarnished. It’s beautiful regardless of whether it is antique silver or jewelry. It should be shown off! But there is nothing less appealing than seeing it turn funky colors. That leaves us to Googling things like, “how to clean silver when it turns black?” But luckily, we listed several tips above that you can use. Some are better for certain types of silver than others.
It’s also important to remember that if you spend some time with preventative care for your silver, you may not need to do as much work later on trying to clean it. These things can be simple, like wearing or using it, avoiding perfumes or sticky residues, and keeping it in dry spaces away from the humidity.
With these things in mind, your silver is far less likely to be tarnished and much more likely to shine as it should!