Keeping silver shiny doesn’t need to be an expensive or time-consuming process. Many of the best methods for cleaning silver at home can already be found right in your kitchen pantry.
There are a couple of reasons why silver can tarnish. But regardless of what may be causing the issue, there are several solutions that will improve its appearance. Whether you’re looking to refresh a family heirloom, clean your favorite piece of jewelry, or you’re trying to keep your finest cutlery in tip-top shape for the next family gathering, these at home remedies for cleaning silver will put your mind at ease.
Soap & Water
It may come as a surprise, but routinely using these kitchen essentials can help remove subtle silver tarnish and prevent it from tarnishing further.
With a plastic bowl, create a simple cleaning solution with a few drops of dishwashing soap and cold water. Place your silver items in the bowl and allow them to soak briefly. Delicately wash each piece in the soapy solution with a soft cloth. Rinse with cool water and then use a separate dry soft cloth to buff and dry.
Baking Soda, Salt, Aluminum Foil, Large Pot or Pan, and Boiling Water
For larger silver items, heavily tarnished pieces, or sets of items you’d like to clean in bulk, these five simple ingredients pack a powerful punch. The best part? You probably already have them.
First, use enough aluminum foil to cover the bottom and sides of your pot or pan. Then, fill the container with boiling water and add ¼ cup of baking soda and a few dashes of salt. Next, gently place silver items into the container ensuring that they touch the aluminum foil, which will trigger a chemical reaction that removes silver tarnish. Allow the items to soak in the solution between 5 and 10 minutes. Heavily tarnished pieces of silver will require more time.
After soaking, safely remove all pieces with plastic or rubber tongs and buff dry with a soft, dry cloth.
In the age of COVID, there’s probably a pretty good chance you have some form of hand sanitizer laying around the house. Conveniently, it can also serve as a reliable silver polish.
Apply several drops of typical hand sanitizer to a soft dry cloth and begin to polish the items. Once you’ve achieved the desired result, use a separate micro-fiber cloth to buff the silver further.
Vinegar has long been hailed as a reliable cleaning agent both on its own and when combined with other common kitchen supplies. For tarnished silver, it can be just as effective.
Add ½ cup of standard distilled white vinegar to a plastic kitchen bowl, and then sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Next, add your silver items and enough room-temperature water to cover all pieces. Allow the silver to soak for around 3 hours and then rinse thoroughly with cold water. Buff gently with a micro-fiber cloth and let the silver dry.
Lemon juice is another common kitchen item that can be used as a cleanser. In the case of silver, it can be used to spot-polish tarnished pieces. Simply apply several drops of concentrated lemon juice to a soft cloth and polish areas where tarnish is occurring.
Another common household cleaning solution, ammonia can be used to treat tarnished silver. Mix 1 cup of warm water in a plastic bowl or container with ½ cup of ammonia. Allow silver pieces to be submerged for roughly 10 minutes and then rinse with cold water. Buff and dry with a soft cloth.
A Note on Cleaning Silver Plated Items
With respect to cleaning silver plated items, it’s important to be cautious with cleansing methods as certain items and solutions could cause the plating to flake. Many common plated pieces of silver only use a thin layer of the precious metal on the surface.
Scrubbing too hard, using excessively harsh chemicals or soaking items in strong solutions for too long could cause damage. To avoid this, make sure you understand whether or not the item you’re cleaning is solid silver or plated silver. If it is plated, avoid harsh chemicals or polishes, and use sparing amounts of household cleanser. Ensure that you only buff gently with a soft cloth.
Fun Fact: 100% pure silver doesn’t tarnish, so you wouldn’t have to clean it anyway!
Have broken or tarnished silver you’d like to sell?
Manhattan Gold & Silver can assay, weigh, and pay you for silver you no longer want or is too tarnished to clean. You’ll be paid a fair price for silver objects based on the current London market fixing.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss selling precious metals, get in touch with us today by phone or using our online contact form.