Aug 07, 2023
How to Clean Silver with Ingredients You Already Have
Your reflection has never shined so brightly. Beloved for jewelry, serveware, and flatware alike, silver is known for its reflective shine. However, whether it's an antique or a new purchase, the
Your reflection has never shined so brightly.
Beloved for jewelry, serveware, and flatware alike, silver is known for its reflective shine. However, whether it's an antique or a new purchase, the metal can easily lose that iconic polish and tarnish in just a matter of months. This is due to household products’ pure silver construction (sterling silver or silver-copper mixtures won’t wear as easily, but is more often seen in jewelry materials). Appearing as yellowy-brown and sometimes even black marks, tarnish is much easier to deal with than rust. In order to keep your treasured heirlooms in top condition, it is important to perform regular maintenance like cleaning and polishing.
Cleaning silver doesn’t have to be a chore—odds are, you have the ingredients for a super-effective silver cleaner in your pantry already (never underestimate the power and versatility of baking soda). While there is a myriad of DIY options like toothpaste, a can of Coke, and even hubcap cleaners, we instead recommend taking the time to clean silver properly, for a long-lasting and professional-grade shine. Below we’re outlining two of the most effective cleaning methods that can be made with items you already have right in your pantry.
For small items that can be easily contained in a casserole-sized dish or cake pan, we recommend the aluminum foil method. Because of aluminum’s more reactive nature, a chemical reaction occurs where it pulls the sulfur (tarnish) out of the silver while soaking.
Line the container of choice with aluminum foil ensuring that the pan or dish is fully covered. Then, sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over the surface of the foil.
Carefully lay out each of your silver pieces in the tray making sure that each piece is directly touching the foil in some way.
Pour hot water over the silver pieces and foil until everything is submerged. Leave to soak until the water has completely cooled.
Pull the silver pieces out of the mixture one by one. Rub off the mixture and dry each piece with a clean cloth.
For items that can’t fit in a dish, baking pan, or even your sink—think larger vases and serving platters—cleaning with a paste of baking soda and water is just as effective as an aluminum reaction, it just requires more elbow grease.
Gather baking soda, warm water, aluminum foil, two clean cloths, and a medium-sized mixing bowl. In the bowl, combine the baking soda and warm water in a 2:1 ratio, and mix until it becomes a paste-like consistency—you want it to be thick enough to not drip all over the place.
Dip the cloth into the mixture, and gather a scoop. With the cloth, rub the mixture into the piece of silver in small, consistent circles until fully covered.
Lay the silver in a cool and dry place to soak and let the mixture work for five to ten minutes. If the piece you’re cleaning is extra tarnished or needs a bit more love, leave the mixture on for the longer side of this time frame.
Rinse each piece under cool water until none of the mixture remains. You can either lay the silver back out to dry or buff it with a second clean cloth to polish and dry.
Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.
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How To Get Rid of Stink Bugs PermanentlyFor Cutlery: An Aluminum Foil SoakStep 1: Prepare Your PanStep 2: Place the SilverStep 3: Leave to SoakStep 4: Clean and DryFor Large Items: A Baking Soda ScrubStep 1: Do the Prep WorkStep 2: Dip and ScrubStep 3: Leave to SoakStep 4: Rinse and Dry