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Cleaning Silver

Silver is a lovely, elegant looking metal used to make a wide variety of decorative and utilitarian items. Whether you own a treasured family silver tea service or a new punch bowl, you will want to keep your silver bright and shiny. However, over time and with usage silver will tarnish. This is a guide about cleaning silver.
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16 found this helpful
September 14, 2011 Flag

It is always a good idea to wipe your silver off as soon as you are finished with it. For instance, my silver omega chain gets wiped after every use. The oils on your fingers and skin cause silver to tarnish.

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Here is a tip my mom gave me for removing that tarnish, if you forgot or just got too busy. Ideas for things that can be cleaned this way are: silverware, plates, things that are put away for holidays, literally anything silver or sterling, including jewelry.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil in a bowl, spreading and molding it to the bowl. Sprinkle the foil with salt and baking soda, then fill with warm water. Take any tarnished silver or "sterling" items and soak them in the water.

As the item soaks the tarnish will migrate to the foil. It is almost like magic. Take out of the water, rinse, and buff with soft cloth.

To think how much time and money everyone will save is exciting, but the first time you see this happen is priceless. Enjoy your clean silver.

Source: My mom, Luana McD.

By Mistie

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September 19, 20110 found this helpful

I had told my daughter about this and I promise you it works! So I understand when things that are really hard seem to simple we question it. Just try it, I actually thought is was like magic first time I saw it happening. I have a close friend who does the flea market thing quite often, when he heard this he jumped right on it even for coins. I now have a "friend" for life! All those days of cleaning jewelry not wanting to purchase these things at thrift stores...long gone due to the easy way I can now clean them.Thanks for putting this in!

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5 found this helpful
April 1, 2011 Flag

To clean silver, pour hot water into a mug and add 3 Tbsp. salt (to make an electrolite) and some aluminum foil. Leave items in this to soak a few minutes. Take them out and rinse with clean water, then polish with a clean soft cloth. Hey presto, clean silver!

Related Content(article continues below)

By jayfeather from Australia

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April 1, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you. But, how does cleaning stainless steel flatware? This silver recipe is recommended all over this site and the internet-everywhere else. How do I clean tarnished or strained stainless steel or inexpensive silver plate?

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January 8, 2007 Flag

I was going out on the town and wanted to wear my sterling silver necklace. I noticed it had tarnished. I did not want to get out a rag and silver polish. I recalled that when we visited Mexico, the silver jewelry shop owners all sat around all day, polishing their silver jewelry with lipstick! SO, I grabbed the tube of lipstick I was going to wear, put some on a tissue and proceeded to polish my necklace, removing the tarnish with the lipstick! It worked like a charm!



By Sharon from Southern Illinois

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January 12, 20070 found this helpful

i have always used toothpaste and a soft toothbrush for cleaning all of my jewelry.even for a quick clean. put paste on brush(just like ur going to brush teeth,but dont use your daily toothbrush.lol) hold item to be cleaned in palm or in fingers -depends on item. using a circular motion, clean both sides-top& bottom or inside & out. rinse thuroughly in luke warm water. dry with soft towel,use blow dryer if needed. NOTE: clean jewelry before dressing. paste has a tendancy to splatter a little.(baking soda also works.) i sound like an adv. for baking soda. im not it just works well to clean lots of things.it has many other uses as well. thats for later.lol

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0 found this helpful
September 9, 2008

This is a great tip on how to keep your silver polished. While visiting the "Juliette Gordon Low" historical mansion in Savannah last month, we found out how they keep all the silver (lots and lots!) looking so beautiful.

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July 16, 20110 found this helpful

Old silverware.

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This is a guide about polishing silverware. Polishing silverware was a lot easier when the butler did it. Well cared for silverware makes for a beautiful table, but removing the tarnish and keeping it gleaming can seem like a lot of work.

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0 found this helpful
February 14, 2008 Flag

Would anyone out there have the recipe for silver cleaner using the tin foil method?

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February 14, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've cleaned old silverplated forks (to use in crafting) by lining a cake pan with a big sheet of aluminum foil, liberally sprinkling on baking soda, and pouring boiling water over it to cover, then let it sit awhile until the water cools enough to remove the items. Takes some tarnish off, but you still have to buff it all with a soft cloth to get it really shiny. Replace the foil to do more, as it darkens and stops removing tarnish. Though it works somewhat, I'd not really want to use this method for "good silver".

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February 15, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

This came out of the Times-Picayune of New Orleans: In a large glass baking dish, put in foil, shiny side up. Add one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon of baking soda. Add enough boiling water to cover. Tarnish will drop off of silver pieces. Remove silver and buff.

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0 found this helpful
January 29, 2012 Flag

Where can I get a reliable cleaner that will not etch/damage the original surface? Or how can I make a safe cleaner?

By Roi

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January 29, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Tomato Ketchup! the natural acid from the tomato works in an awesome way and is safe for the environment! Soak the item in the ketchup for a bit, softly rub with tooth brush, rinse and dry. That simple.

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0 found this helpful
September 15, 2011 Flag

I have used the salt and baking soda cleaning method for cleaning silver. However, many pieces were so tarnished and old that they have what looks like a tarnish stain. I have used commercial products to no avail. Does anyone know something I can try?

By Susan

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September 16, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Sadly, it could be that it is not residual tarnish, but just the silver plating wearing off. Unless you know for sure that you have pure silver, you may want to take one of the pieces into a jeweler's and ask their advice, so you don't ruin the pieces. (Even if they are pure silver, you may want to take one in to ask how to get it clean.)

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0 found this helpful
July 10, 2015 Flag

What is the best way to clean?

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March 18, 2013 Flag

Is there an easy or homemade way to clean silver and where do you suggest to sell for the most honest price? I have sold at jewelry stores in past, but that was over 15 years ago.

By Kat

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April 17, 20130 found this helpful

I did not beleive anything less than old fashioned muscle and scrubbing would ever work, But like all of us, I hoped! So when I tried this, I had little expectations. I was pleasantly surprised at the results. All you do is line your sink with aluminum foil, add to that 1/2 cup of table salt, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and a gallon of VERY hot or even boiling water and submerge your silver!

Now wait...in 20 minutes or so (when the water is cool enough to reach in and retrieve your treasures) you will be amazed! For the reallly really oxidized silver I use a product called "eagle One" also sold under the name "Never Dull" ( a lot of military folks will know this one, as it woks on medals, brass, etc, etc) It's 3.89 in your automotive dept at wal-mart! What a steal!..( use gloves, as it will smear fresh nail polish!)

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0 found this helpful
October 23, 2010 Flag

What can I use for a natural silver cleaner?

By Lisa

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October 27, 20100 found this helpful

Yes! Four TBL salt, some aluminum foil and four TBL baking soda in a pot. Bring to boil, put silver in and wait. When clean, take out and buff. For larger pieces of silver, double or triple the recipe : )

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Anonymous Flag
October 27, 20100 found this helpful

Toothpaste (not the gel kind) is what I use and you can buy it on the cheap at the dollar store. ;-) Just dab it on with a cotton ball or soft cloth and gently rub in circular motions, wipe off and rinse and you're done. :-)

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0 found this helpful
December 4, 2012 Flag

I have a collection of sterling silver napkin rings, which are almost all 100 plus years old. Most have intricate designs in the Art Nouveau style. I have used the aluminum foil/baking soda and salt in hot water method. However, I now have a cloudy white residue left in the creases and indentations of the Repousse Nouveau designs.

How do I get this off without scratching the silver?

By Barbara A

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December 10, 20120 found this helpful

I think the foil/salt/soda method is used for silver plate. You might have to resort to Goddards silver polish for sterling silver.

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0 found this helpful
December 6, 2014 Flag

How do you remove lacquer from silver and silver plate?

By Hilda

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0 found this helpful
December 6, 2014 Flag

I have a lot of silver pieces from my family. I've read here before about cleaning silverware, but don't remember anything about cleaning the larger pieces. Could someone help me with this one? The thought of cleaning them, by hand, piece by piece, is overwhelming. Also, how best to store them afterwards? Right now I have them wrapped in cloth and then in heavy plastic, which seems to do OK. Thanks.

By mm

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0 found this helpful
June 8, 2013 Flag

I have a silver heartshaped bowl with lid. I put a rubberband around the bowl to keep the lid on. Now there is a mark on the lid and base. What suggestions do you have to remove the rubberband mark?

By Sylvia K.

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0 found this helpful
July 20, 2012 Flag

What is best way to clean silver and silverplate?

By Connie N.

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0 found this helpful
April 1, 2012 Flag

How do I remove old lacquer from silver?

By Eva

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0 found this helpful
April 1, 2011 Flag

What's the best effective way to clean old silver pieces?

John from Chicago, IL

Answers:

Cleaning Silver

Thanks, I just cleaned my ring I haven't worn in ages. It was really dirty and smelled horrid; I cleaned it with Aquafresh toothpaste and a toothbrush. It has a nice shine to it now and has that fresh breath smell. :D (02/11/2009)

By Ryan

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0 found this helpful
October 23, 2010 Flag

What is the best natural way of cleaning a silver tray?

Sheila from Ontario

Answers:

Natural Cleaner For Silver

Make a paste of baking soda to use in cleaning your silver. This idea is by the Queen of Clean on BBC.

Best of luck. (04/16/2008)

By Carol in PA

Natural Cleaner For Silver

I have heard toothpaste works wonders!
It really works. Use a little and then buff with a soft cloth.

Good luck.

(04/17/2008)

By Monique63 from Somerset, UK

RE: Natural Cleaner For Silver

Natural Cleaner For Silver

I found the toothpaste idea worked great. Thank you to Monique. I tried the baking soda, it did take off a bit of tarnish, but the toothpaste worked better.
(04/20/2008)

By Pennypacer

Natural Cleaner For Silver

I'm new to this site and wanted to respond. Get a large container that will hold the tray. Use your sink if the tray is too large. Put 1 sheet of aluminum foil, 1 Tbsp salt, and 1 Tbsp baking soda into the container. Fill with warm water and then add your tray. Wait an hour and then wipe the tray with a soft cloth.

Only use glass or plastic bowls to do this. The tarnish can adhere to a metal bowl. If you smell rotten eggs, ventilate the room. If the foil gets dark, replace it with new foil. (04/21/2008)

By demachmo

Natural Cleaner For Silver

Use baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil or an aluminum container. Find an aluminum dishpan or container to hold the silver pieces. (Alternately, place a square of aluminum foil in the bottom of the container.) Place silver to be cleaned in a the container and cover with water.

For each quart of water used, add approx. 1 TBSP of baking soda and 1 TBSP salt.

Allow silver to soak. (Silver will brighten and aluminum will darken.)
(04/22/2008)

By nanasews

Natural Cleaner For Silver

Try a cleaner called Universal Stone from Germany. The stuff works fantastically! It's non-toxic and made from all food-grade ingredients. It works on brass and copper, too. I bought it online. (10/05/2008)

By KSE

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0 found this helpful
December 16, 2008 Flag

I purchased at a garage sale approximately 20 silver and silver plated serving pieces, such as trays, casserole stands, pitchers, etc. Some are in good shape, some have a lot of tarnish on them. What is the best way to clean these pieces, as most are pretty old? Also, where would you take them (as is) to try and sell them, if I decide not to take the time to clean them myself?

Marsha

Answers:

Cleaning Silver

Toothpaste (not the gel kind) will definitely work but if the tarnish is fairly bad it would take a lot less elbow grease to use good old fashioned silver polish remover that you can buy in almost every market or hardware store.

You would be better off trying to re-sell the items on eBay, Craigslist, a second hand store, or consignment store 'after' you've polished them to fetch a higher price. (10/27/2008)

By Deeli

Cleaning Silver

Silver tarnish is a coating of silver sulfide on the surface of the piece. If you use a silver polish, or toothpaste, or a baking soda paste, you are rubbing a bit of the silver off each time.


When you use the hot water and aluminum method, you are creating a chemical reaction that transfers the sulfur from the silver to the aluminum, which is why the aluminum looks dark when you have finished the process. The aluminum is now "tarnished", as it were. The salt or baking soda, or combination of these, in the water as well as heating the water just speeds up the chemical reaction. You can also use Calgon. I suppose you could use caustic soda, but it is corrosive to your skin, so there is no point in doing so. Some sources also suggest vinegar. What you are doing by adding the substance, whatever it is, to the water, is producing an electrolyte which enhances the chemical reaction. Sometimes you also get a bit of a rotten egg smell, which is some of the sulfur escaping as a gas, hydrogen sulfide. Not enough of this is produced to be harmful in your kitchen. Open a window. It is just stinky.


In my experience, cleaning my collection of silver coffee spoons with this, some spoons cleaned up better than others. Some seemed to be slightly dull. I would polish the dull ones with a silver polish. They were not tarnished, but just didn't seem to be a shiny as the other spoons. I suspect it was the quality of the silver that made the difference. (10/27/2008)

By louel53

Cleaning Silver

I have heard that if you put water softener in a pie pan lined with aluminum foil, it works. I use white king water softener. (10/27/2008)

By chris t.

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0 found this helpful
October 27, 2008 Flag

Cleaning Tarnished Silver: I need tips for clenaing badly tarnished sterling silver.

Helen from Ridley Park, PA

Answers:

Cleaning Silver

I tried cleaning my sterling silver jewelry in bicarbonate & warm water in a aluminum foil pan. It only took out a little bit of the tarnish. IT DID give a shine, but not what I expected.
(09/05/2006)

By Beverly

Cleaning Silver

Hi, all this reply is for all the above. First off you can not clean silver with bi-carbonate or mix sodium carbonate {soda crystals} with aluminium. Keep doing this and you will die 'literly' its very dangerous.. i see many tips for cleaning silver with household products, such as aluminum foil and soda crystals? Yes, it will work a little, and will take years off your life! Buy a bag of soda crystals and read the instructions. Do not use with ALUMINUM.



The only safe method proved since 1907 and still sold today is the pristine plate, and they still offer a full money back purchase. I know is sold worldwide.(10/18/2007)

By a-s-c

Cleaning Silver

Hi, this is in response to the advice about not using soda crystals and aluminum foil together. After I read this, I went into the kitchen and looked at my yellow box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. There is no warning at all. So I got online to look at the recommendations for Washing Soda. There was a warning about not using it on aluminum but it seemed to be more about damaging the aluminum than a health risk.

Curious, I did a little more digging on the internet and I think I have the answer. There is a product called Washing Soda Crystals that is available in Europe which is much more caustic and powerful than what is known as Washing Soda in the US. I believe that the warning was relating to those. I could find NOTHING about any danger at all for baking soda being used in this manner.

If fact, many, many sites recommend it as the best option for safely cleaning anything. I think if you were to just use baking soda instead of washing soda, this silver tarnish tip would be safe and effective. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, please post the link or source here.

Jess (10/18/2007)

By jess_admin

Cleaning Silver

It is important to use foil shiny side up, or it wont work, and there is a world of difference between baking soda and soda crystals! I mean you can put baking soda in green vegetables but you put soda crystals down the sink! (11/10/2007)

By Mary

Cleaning Silver

TOOTHPASTE works wonders!
Use a little and then buff with a soft cloth.
It really works.

Monique

Somerset, UK (04/20/2008)

By Monique63

RE: Cleaning Silver

Cleaning Silver

(submitted via email)

You can use baking soda as a cure for indigestion. You can't use Washing Soda. They are chemically different. Chuck (09/02/2008)

By jess_admin

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January 15, 20070 found this helpful
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3 found this helpful
March 2, 2010 Flag

Bring up the shine on silver by rubbing with a piece of rhubarb.

By Mary

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March 4, 20100 found this helpful

I shall try this as soon as our rhubarb has grown big enough. Thanks for the idea.

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Home and Garden Cleaning MetalAugust 24, 2011
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Cleaning Silver
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silver tea pot
Determining Silver Plate vs. Sterling Silver
Old silverware.
Polishing and Cleaning Silverware
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Homemade Silver Polishing Cloths
Woman Polishing Silver
Preventing Silver from Tarnishing
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