How to Clean Silver Flatware, Jewelry, and More


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Step 1: 

Find a deep glass dish or bowl. Do not use stainless steel, which causes a chemical reaction that will result in black marks as you clean silver.

Step 2: 

Line the container with aluminum foil, shiny side up, and place the silverware, necklaces, or other tarnished silver jewelry pieces on the bottom. Do not let them touch.

Step 3: 

Pour boiling water into the container. You probably need 1 to 2 cups of hot water, the items should be submerged. Add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one tablespoon of salt.

Step 4:

Allow the silver items to sit in the baking soda water for at least 10 minutes; check that the silver touches the shiny side of the aluminum foil to activate the chemical reaction.

Alternatively, place silver items in a bowl with one cup of white vinegar and about four tablespoons of baking soda, and cover with warm water. Let sit for at least two hours.

Step 5: 

Remove silver pieces and place them on a paper towel. Use a microfiber cloth to buff and dry the items.

How can I make my silver shiny again?

Clean sterling silver immediately after use. 

Photo: Santje09/Getty Images

There are different techniques that will help you learn how to clean silver at home. Most importantly, clean sterling silver after use, as you would with any delicate tableware. This isn’t the time to leave your dinner party dishes until the next morning. Gently hand-wash your silver with unscented phosphate-free dish detergent soon after it leaves the table.

While washing, do not allow silver to come into contact with a stainless steel or metal sink, which can cause scratching, Herman says. Always be sure to line your sink with a plastic basin or a soft, clean cloth or towel.

Although adding ketchup (it’s the citric acid) to tarnished silver may work, professionals agree it is best to stick to more tried-and-true techniques. “We know inexpensive products like silver polish work well, so why risk damaging your items with other methods?” says Nelson.

If you’re not sure how to polish silver, follow the instructions on the label. Weiman Silver Polish and Cleaner, for instance, only requires that you rub the polish in with a soft cloth, rinse with warm water, and then buff away to prevent water spots. This product works great on heirloom pieces with crevices, which may not lend themselves to the baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil method.

If you do prefer to clean silver at home without a product, try this DIY method. To add shine and luster to your silver items, you can make a paste using cornstarch and water. “Create a thick paste and apply it to your silver, gently rubbing it in using a soft cloth,” says Prerna Jain, owner Ministry Of Cleaning in Melbourne, Australia. “The mild abrasive properties of cornstarch help polish the silver.” Rinse off the paste, dry the silver thoroughly, and buff it with a clean cloth for added shine.

Why does silver tarnish?

Pure silver is too soft to use when crafting silverware, necklaces, and the like, so artisans use copper to make it more durable. But, over time, the copper can oxidize with sulfur and other environmental elements causing a chemical reaction that makes sterling silver discolor or tarnish. The longer a piece is exposed to these elements, the more tarnish will accumulate, making it more difficult to clean. This doesn’t hurt the piece, but many people prefer the aesthetics of a nice, shiny piece of silver.

How do you remove tarnish from silver?

You can bring your tarnished pieces back to life.

Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images

Whether it’s antique silver, a newer item, or even silver-plated jewelry, hand-polishing is the best way to go when it comes to dealing with heavy tarnish. Using quick chemical dips or a machine can dull or seriously damage the finish, says Jeanne Sloane, deputy chairman at Christie’s in New York City. No need for elbow grease here—you’ll want a light touch when working with sterling silver items to prevent scratches.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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