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How to Clean Silver – Jewelry Cleaning, Home Remedies for Tarnish

While popular, sterling silver jewelry tarnishes, thereby making it unappealing to some individuals. And for jewelry enthusiasts, there are few things worse than digging out a necklace that’s perfect for your outfit, only to find that it’s tarnished!

Fortunately, you don’t need a special silver polish to remove tarnish; it can be done at home in just a few minutes when utilizing a home remedy with ingredients that are found in virtually every bathroom and kitchen.

What Causes Silver Tarnishing?

Wondering why silver tarnishes when other metals seem to stay shiny and clean? In short, tarnishing is caused by hydrogen sulfide, present in the ambient air, foods and other substances. The silver reacts and tarnish is the result.

Notably, humidity, moisture and body oils will exacerbate tarnishing on silver jewelry. Therefore, it’s best to remove sterling silver necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings and other accessories before exercising, showering, applying lotions and other similar activities.

Silver Jewelry Cleaning and Polishing – Home Remedies to Remove Tarnish

You don’t need silver polish to remove tarnish from jewelry and other silver items; it’s possible to use items that are found around the kitchen or bathroom cabinet.

Longtime jeweler Richard Hague offered several home remedies for polishing silver, including the following:

  1. Cleaning Silver Jewelry With Dish Detergent – Line a bowl with tin foil and place the jewelry atop the foil. Add a dollop of dish detergent and very warm water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly and polish with a cloth.
  2. Toothpaste as Silver Polish – Apply (non-gel) toothpaste to the jewelry item using a soft bristle toothbrush or cloth and rub the silver using a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly. This method is ideal for mild to moderate tarnishing.
  3. Cleaning Silver with Baking Soda – Create a paste using water and baking soda and apply to the silver using a soft cloth or toothbrush. Gently scrub and then rinse thoroughly. This method is ideal for mild to moderate tarnishing.
  4. Cleaning Silver Jewelry With Baking Soda, Tin Foil and Salt – Line a cooking pot with aluminum foil and fill with 2 cups of water and add 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of table salt. Place the jewelry items in the pot and place the pot on the stove using medium heat. Allow the solution to boil for three minutes. Then, pour the jewelry into a sieve and rinse thoroughly. This method is ideal for removing moderate to severe tarnishing.

Notably, these methods for cleaning jewelry at home will not remove scratches; these can be buffed out at home using a Dremel tool and a special jewelry buffing and polishing attachment.

Tips for Cleaning Silver Jewelry at Home

It’s important to note that while rinsing jewelry items, it’s best to do so while the drain is plugged to avoid the accidental loss of stones, stud earrings or other small parts. It’s also important to avoid prolonged contact with salt, as it can be corrosive. When using the third method, remove the jewelry from the cleaning solution and rinse thoroughly right after boiling is complete.

When removing tarnish from silver with engraving or etching, some prefer to use a cloth instead of a toothbrush. This will leave tarnish in the crevices, which makes the engraving or etching more obvious. This method is also ideal for silver jewelry that’s designed to look antique or “shabby chic.”

Notably, these home remedies for cleaning silver can be used on flatware, dishes and other decorative items. In addition, home remedy number one is also great for polishing gemstones and settings. Toothpaste will remove residue, dirt and oils, and the toothbrush bristles can effectively clean the underside of the gemstone and setting.