I’m a sucker for silver. Gold is too pretentious for my taste, but on the few occasions I wear jewelry, silver is my metal of choice. If you’re reading this article, then I assume you have the same impeccable taste as me. But you’ve also discovered silver’s biggest weakness – losing its lustre.
Indeed, if you want to keep your silver jewelry or silverware nice and shiny, you need to clean it regularly. Although who has the time, right? That’s why today I’ll walk you through my favourite methods of cleaning silver.
In this article:
Tarnish is the reason your silver loses its lustre over time. It’s a thin corrosive layer resulting from the chemical reaction between silver and the oxygen in the air.
The good news is tarnish is a self-containing reaction. Unlike rust, which completely eats away at metals it affects, tarnish remains on the surface.
The bad news is that it’s ugly and it has to go. Luckily, we’ve perfected multiple ways of dealing with it over the years. I’ll share some of the most popular methods below and I’m sure at least a few of them will strike your fancy.
Whichever method you choose, there are a few things you need to prepare in advance.
You will need a soft-bristled toothbrush. They’re perfect for cleaning silver details without scratching them. If you need to clean something with more detail or a chain, this is an absolute must.
Next, you’ll want to polish your silver when you’re done and there’s no better way to do it than a microfibre cloth. The fibres are small enough to delicately polish the metal without leaving obvious cratches. Have two microfibre cloths at the ready.
Disclaimer: None of the recipes below are appropriate for antique silver. If you’re going to clean antique silver or a family heirloom, you should consider seeking professional help.
Now, let’s clean and polish your silver.
Baking soda and water is a classical homemade cleaning product. It has a lot of uses, and as it turns out – one of those uses is cleaning silver. Here’s how.
Create a paste using baking soda and lukewarm water. Use one of the microfibre cloths to apply the paste to your tarnished silver. Let it work its magic for a few minutes.
If there are small details, use the soft-bristled toothbrush to clean them. This is a great way to clean up chain links. After that, simply rinse with cold water.
Finally, wipe the silver with a dry microfibre cloth. The cloth should protect your jewelry or silverware from scratches and give it a nice polished look.
An age-old combination that doesn’t work in most scenarios, baking soda and vinegar will nonetheless help you clean and polish your silver at home.
When you mix baking soda and white vinegar, there’s a strong chemical reaction that’s great at dealing with tarnish. Place your silver in a container of appropriate size (avoid metal containers – the ensuing chemical reactions might not be optimal).
Powder your silver with baking soda and then pour enough white vinegar to dissolve it. As the soda dissolves, there will be a bubbly chemical reaction that will remove the tarnish from your silver.
Leave the silver in the mixture until the reaction is completely done, then rinse it and polish it with the microfibre cloth.
Window cleaning detergents can do more than keep your windows shiny. They’re pretty good at polishing your silver, as well. I have to note this method mostly works for silver that’s only slightly tarnished. It’s more of a maintenance than a deep clean kind of solution.
How can you use a window cleaning product to polish your silver? It’s simple – spray some product on your microfibre cloth and polish your silver. It’s that simple.
Another method that works only for slightly tarnished silver involves lemon-lime soda. Place your silver in a container, pour lemon-lime soda over it, and then let it sit for an hour.
After you’ve had your tea or caught up on some telly or reading, rinse your silver and polish it.
One time I noticed my silver bracelet was slightly tarnished right before a job interview. It’s weird how you never notice some things until it’s too late.
Anyway, overthinking as always I do, I thought the interviewer would notice and I’d make a bad first impression. So I did what any sensible person would do. No, I didn’t remove the bracelet, don’t be silly. I polished it with hand sanitiser. It worked like a charm.
Ketchup has been making food edible for more than 200 years. But another hidden talent of this magical condiment is polishing your silver. Yes, really.
Apply ketchup on tarnished areas of your silverware or silver jewelry and let it sit for a few minutes. After that, use the toothbrush to carefully clean any ornaments or a microfibre cloth for smooth surfaces.
Finally, rinse with water and polish with the other microfibre cloth.
Cornflour and water create a paste that’s perfect for polishing silver. Simply mix the two ingredients until you get a nice paste, apply it to your silver and rub it off with a microfibre cloth. This will restore the shine and lustre of your silver.
This one gets a little trickier but it’s perfect if you have a bulk order of silver you need to clean and polish.
Place a sheet of aluminium foil in a non-metal container big enough to fit your needs. Sprinkle baking soda over the silver and bring some water to a boil. Then carefully pour the boiling water over the silver.
Let it sit for a few seconds and take it out using plastic kitchen tongs. You want to use plastic to avoid scratching it (wood can work, too). Place the silver pieces somewhere where they can cool off, then polish them with a microfibre cloth.
Place a sheet of aluminium foil in a non-metal container big enough to fit your needs (having deja vu, yet?). Fill the container with hot water and add laundry detergent. Give it a good stir but be careful with the hot mix.
Carefully place your silver into the mix and leave it for a minute. Then take it out and rinse it with cold water. Polish with a microfibre cloth and you’re done.
Aside from dental hygiene, toothpaste can be used for silver cleaning. Squeeze a bit of toothpaste on your microfibre cloth and polish your silver. Then rinse it with water and polish it with the other microfibre cloth. Easy as can be.
Silver is amazing but it’s prone to losing its lustre. Sometimes it needs your help to get it back into shape. Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways you can clean your silver at home.
Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.
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