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Cleaning a Silver Chain


How do I clean a sterling silver chain that has gone black?

Vera Adam from Margate, SA


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By blind_quilter (Guest Post) 02/20/2007

If your chain is truly silver use a good quality silver cream such as Gorham's. Follow the directions. Alternatively, see if you local jeweler will clean it for you for less than the cost of a jar of Gorham's.

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By sandy 77 431 02/20/2007

I use a rouge cloth on it. I also bought a gray and white cloth pretty much the same idea as a rouge cloth. Anytime I wear a chain I just run it thru the cloth several times. Lovely.

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By Cindy 7 160 02/20/2007

I bought a bottle of Tarnex years ago and use it to clean all of my sterling silver including jewelry. One bottle will last a really long time. It smells a little while the tarnish is dissolving but it works in practically an instant.

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By Marta (Guest Post) 03/29/2007

I always use toothpaste, not the gel kind.

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By WiggieMac (Guest Post) 12/07/2008

The tinfoil and baking soda worked like a charm. Thank you

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By Janice C. 18 710 02/21/2007

Use silver cleaner, follow instructions carefully and DO NOT SOAK. Once sterling is pitted (that's what happens when you soak it), your only recourse is to take it to a jeweler and see if it can be dipped. It's not expensive but your piece will never be the same.

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By sam (Guest Post) 03/29/2007

i have found that a jewellery cloth helps the white cloth to get grime off and the gray cloth to make it shine EASY

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By paul koegel (Guest Post) 04/13/2007

my very exspensive silver chain has turned black and i dont know how to clean it. i tried vinegar and it worked kind of, how do i get it to shine again?

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By Michael M (Guest Post) 05/11/2007

I personally think that one should gain as much information and knowledge as possible on this topic. Here is another page that may be of interest to some, its all about this subject of cleaning coins, check it here

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By Jeeves (Guest Post) 08/25/2007

Listen: it may sound crazy, but the best way to clean sterling silver, old coins, or any worn, age-stained metal is to . . . wait for it . . . urinate on it. The ammonia and urea react only with the grime and substances causing discolouration, while the natural vitamins and warmth protect the metal from too much damage; you've heard the phrase, 'Going to spend a penny . . .' During the industrial revolution, people used to pee into barrels for use in cleaning products, and each time they did, their payment was a penny. Of course, cleaning product manufacturers would rather us not know that the best damn cleaning product costs little more than a glass of water, and an hour or so.

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By Karen (Guest Post) 12/03/2007

Thank you all for the tips.
I just cleaned a silver necklace that had turned black.
Foil in a bowl of water and baking soda did the trick

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By Karen (Guest Post) 12/04/2007

I do have a little hint for some of you and that is,
Keep your silver jewelery in a PreZerve Organizer and that will leave your silver shiny after it has been cleaned for years.
I bought mine at the Toronto Shopping Channel, but I am sure it's available in the States since it comes from there.

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By Margi Spencer 2 12/20/2007

I have heard toothpaste will clean silver jewelry. Is this true? Anyone experienced good results with toothpaste? Your comments are appreciated.

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By chan (Guest Post) 05/12/2008

the best way to clean silver is just take some toothpaste in your hand and rub your silver with it as you would use a hand wash and it will make the silver just like new in a couple of seconds.

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By Leah (Guest Post) 05/19/2008

Further to the toothpaste idea: I save my worn out electric toothbrush heads and using them works really well to get into any detail on your silver pieces. Just hook up the old head onto the electric base and polish away!

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By kimmy (Guest Post) 07/19/2008

White toothpaste works OK but I JUST tried rubbing my rope chain with aluminum foil and it worked MUCH faster.

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By Hurem.. (Guest Post) 08/07/2008

I tried to clean my silver chain with bleach. I am really stupid because it turned jet black. I think I will have to take it to a jewelers, I tried all the above things but they only got bits of it off. So the moral is, do NOT use bleach!

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By Joe (Guest Post) 10/16/2008

My silver chain was badly tarnished. I used that toothpaste method and my chain looks brand new.

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By John Doe (Guest Post) 10/24/2008

You guys are the BEST! Just a few days ago I had used Peroxide to lighten my dark hair and had no idea that it would tarnish the chain. Then surfing around I read above about the toothpaste...GREAT solution! TskTsk! The things peeps do with Bleach. Thanks again! Now I have minty fresh Silver!

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By Dave in Australia (Guest Post) 11/21/2008

Toothpaste worked fine. Thanks guys. How long does it take for the minty fresh smell to wear off :-)

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By AshleyBee (Guest Post) 01/11/2009

Toothpaste and a toothbrush works wonders. Just lightly scrub and rinse. :)

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By aaron (Guest Post) 01/24/2009

I have a good silver chain, and it is black so I am hoping that the baking soda and tin foil will work. Will tell you how it goes. Thanks for the heads up.

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By tim 1 08/17/2009

Dip the silver chain in tarn-x and all tarnish is gone!

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By Diamond Diva 1 11/20/2010

I have not been able to wear my silver ball necklace and earrings because they were tarnished. I used the toothpaste and toothbrush, it worked like a charm. My set looks new and I'm wearing it out tonight.

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By Laurie Young F. 3 6 06/22/2013

I've used toothpaste (not gel kind) with a small nail brush, old toothbrush or old electric toothbrush head. Works well enough, but sometimes you need something stronger. I hesitate to use anything acidic since it can pit the surface. I know my mother-in-law swears by a tin foil & baking soda bath for her silver serving pieces and the like.

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Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

Archive: Cleaning Silver Chain & Coins

How do you clean a silver chain? I have been told that vinegar can get it clean.

Tina from BC, Canada



Here's a way to clean silver rope and badly corroded silver coins.

For coins: Wet the coin with water and rub it with regular aluminum cooking foil. You can leave the background dark to highlight the detail of the coin. Metal detectorists who find medieval period coins in the UK use this method. I use it when cleaning shipwreck silver coins. To clean silver rope chain or to thoroughly clean silver coins, put them into an ordinary rock tumbler with water and balls of aluminum foil (the drum should be half full). Only do one coin at a time. It usually takes only a few hours to clean the worst coins and rope. You should check your item once every hour to make sure you don't overdo it. If you don't have a rock tumbler you could try a plastic bottle with tight lid and simply hand shack it using the foil balls and water as stated above.

Note: Only coins that are severally corroded due to be buried on land or sea should be cleaned. These require cleaning only to make the detail visible. Many silver coins have added value because of discoloration so don't remove it! Take your valuable or heirloom silver rope to a professional for cleaning. I hope this helps someone. (01/13/2006)

By Dale


I just cleaned two silver chains the other day by soaking them in vinegar. Worked great. I let them soak for few hours then rubbed them with jewelry cloth. (01/13/2006)

By Christi

Baking Soda and Tin Foil

You will need:

  • Boiling Water
  • Tin Foil
  • Glass cereal bowl
  • Baking Soda
In the glass bowl, lay in the foil shiny side up (this is also the side that wont stick to food when frozen or cooked.)

Lay in the piece of jewelry, sprinkle in a very generous amount of Soda.
Pour over the boiling water, note ~ here 2 things will happen, 1 it will foam & 2 you may smell something (Reminds me of copper, or dirty pennys.) It is cleaning all the body grease & grim off the jewelry.
The method used for the gold is the same, however OMIT the foil.

Note: It may take more than one cleaning. After I do this once, I take the jewelry out and paste baking soda on it and rub with an old toothbrush. Then I repeat the above steps until it is as clean as I want it. (01/14/2006)

By Paula in GA

Olive Oil for Coins

My hubby who is a coin collector uses olive oil and a soft cloth to polish coins. He swears by it, and it does not harm the coin. (01/14/2006)

By Shirley

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