You’ve probably collected some beautiful silver pieces over the years, but they just sit on a shelf or are hidden in a drawer. I’ve heard that silver benefits from regular use, and that is actually true. I was hesitant, though, to commit to the constant cleaning that I thought it would need.
I’ve discovered that keeping my silver clean and polished is not as difficult as I thought it would be. So, I give my silver a good cleaning and resolved to use it more. When I see tarnish, I choose to clean my silver with natural, easily accessible products from my cupboard, and fortunately, the chore much easier.
I want to share what works for me and what not to do. Hopefully, you’ll get inspired to get your silver cleaned so that you can enjoy using it more often.
How to Clean Silver Metal
When you regularly clean your silver, it is a simple task. Once the tarnish has had time to build up, it may take little more time, but the process remains the same.
For everyday cleaning, hand-wash your silver separately in sudsy water. When you place silver in the dishwasher or in a sink of dishes, you run the risk of scratching or otherwise damaging the delicate metal. When you notice the dark tinge of tarnish, polish the silver immediately to prevent a build-up.
Homemade Remedies to Clean Silver
1. The Easiest Homemade Silver Cleaning Solution
For lightly tarnished silver, the simplest way to clean it is to soak it in lemon-lime soda like 7-Up®, or Sprite®. The acid in the soda serves as a natural silver cleaner, leaving your silver sparkling clean without harming the metal.
Place the silver in a container and pour the soda on them. Let them soak for an hour or more, then rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Our homemade brass cleaner uses the same lemon base to create a powerful yet mild cleaning solution.
2. An Electrochemical Solution
This is another easy homemade silver cleaning solution. Line a bowl or other container with aluminum foil and heat up enough water to almost fill the container.
Add a large amount of salt in the water, as much as possible, to create a very salty solution. Put your silver in the foil-lined container and pour the salt water over it. Remove the silver when the tarnish is gone.
The reaction is quick, and your silver will be shiny in no time at all. For this solution to be effective, the silver must touch the foil. When the silver is clean, rinse and buff it dry with a soft cloth.
>> More on metal cleaning and polishing: How to clean pewter – Does pewter tarnish?
3. Homemade Silver Polish – from Household Ingredients
You don’t have to buy expensive silver polish; many different household items do the job efficiently. The process stays the same no matter what polisher you choose. Some polish replacements depend on the mild abrasive action, while others use acidic ingredients. Be very gentle with your silver, so avoid heavily abrasive materials like harsh cleaners and toothpaste. Remove tarnish from intricate designs with a soft brush and polish to get into deep crevices.
To polish your silver with these household ingredients, put some of the polish on a wet cloth and rub the silver carefully in long, straight movements. When tarnish is removed, rinse it and buff dry with a soft cloth.
If you have brass pieces that you want to look antique, you can use some of these solutions for how to age brass, as well. Take a look at our recipes in the link to get that aged appearance you want with just a few simple steps and ingredients.
How to Clean Silver Jewelry and Other Small Silver Items
To clean small silverware and how to clean jewelry, soak them in two tablespoons of baking soda and 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in a large bowl. The solution, which also comprises a homemade all-purpose cleaner will foam a little, so use a large bowl to prevent a mess.
Let the silver sit in the mixture for two or three hours, then rinse and dry with a soft cloth. This solution cleans silver safely and efficiently, but be careful if your jewelry has stones or other ornamentation. Ensure they are safe for cleaning with vinegar before using it for how to clean silver.
This mixture will work for how to clean a sterling silver chain, a pendant, ring, bracelet, or other jewelry. If there is a lot of dirt or sweat accumulation on the piece, you may have to rub a little harder when you take it out of the solution or use a soft-bristled toothbrush to get in the crevices. Always take extra care when cleaning jewelry as you don’t want to risk damaging it while trying to get it clean. For other tips about jewelry cleaning, consult 5 Easy-To-Make Homemade Jewelry Cleaner Recipes.
Now that your silver pieces are clean and tarnish free, strive to keep them that way. Using silver daily works well with silverware and jewelry, but maybe not as well for special occasion items.
Store your silver in a dry environment or keep silver wrapped in soft cotton cloth and put it in a plastic bag. The plastic keeps out air that carries traces of sulfur, causing the tarnish.
Avoid wearing silver jewelry when swimming, doing dishes, or cleaning. Chlorine in water and cleaning supplies causes silver to tarnish. Don’t wear silver necklaces or rings when cooking and don’t wear a silver necklace with wool, since wool encourages tarnish.
What about Toothpaste as a Homemade Silver Cleaner?
It’s risky to use toothpaste as a silver cleaner. Some toothpaste is non-abrasive and will do the job well, while others contain harsh ingredients that can scratch silver. Other components of the toothpaste could also cause harm.
While toothpaste works, I recommend that you use it only if the tarnish buildup is extreme and unresponsive to other methods. If you feel that an abrasive is needed, use a paste of baking soda and water on a soft cloth or sponge. Rub the baking soda on the piece and let it stay for at least an hour, then rinse and repeat, if needed. Buff dry with a clean, dry cloth.
Clean Silver with Vinegar
As you probably already know, vinegar is an incredibly versatile product. Not only can you use it in cooking, but using white vinegar for cleaning is highly recommended. You can clean grout, the toilet, floors, carpet, clothing, and more with the acidic properties in vinegar. Use a vinegar soak to take care of cleaning your silver.
How Does Silver Cleaner Work?
These silver cleaners work in a variety of ways. Acid and simple ingredients dissolve tarnish well, while mild abrasives remove the tarnished surface. Some cleaners use both abrasives and acids.
No matter what cleaner you choose, you will be amazed at how fast they work. When using a mild abrasive or an acid, you just need a few minutes and a light polish. If you follow give it a good cleaning with one of these silver cleaners, then keeping your silver clean is easy.
Do you have another homemade silver cleaner recipe? I usually find the best advice comes from readers who use these techniques all the time. Leave a comment to let us know what you found that works for you. If you found this article helpful, share these silver cleaning tips on social media so that others can benefit.