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Cleaning Silver

Category Metal
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 page about cleaning silver.

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By 18 found this helpful
September 14, 2011

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.

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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By 6 found this helpful
April 1, 2011

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!

By jay jay from Australia

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January 8, 2007

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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By 1 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. They told us they polished it as usual then put a coat of "future floor wax" over it, and it just keeps on shining. I have never heard of this, but if it works for them, I'm going for it. Obviously it wouldn't be for things you use, but for all that silver just sitting around tarnishing, why not!

Source: Information was given to me by the Representative at the "Juliette Gordon Low" historic museum in Savannah. Juliette founded the Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912 and opened her home up for the meetings. The home is incredible.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
February 14, 2008

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


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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By Nolasandy (Guest Post)
February 15, 20081 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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January 29, 20120 found this helpful

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


January 29, 20121 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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By 0 found this helpful
September 15, 2011

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?



September 16, 20111 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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By 0 found this helpful
July 10, 2015

What is the best way to clean?


October 28, 20171 found this helpful

Here is the fastest way to do this:


Old sauce pan
Aluminum foil
1 1/2 cups baking soda
2 Tablespoons salt

  1. Fill the saucepan with water, baking soda, salt and a piece of aluminum foil. You can actually line the bottom of the saucepan with the foil.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from stove.
  4. Now use some tongs and hold the silverware. Dip this in the water mixture.
  5. Only hold it in there for a second and remove the piece.
  6. Check to see if all the fire and tarnish has been removed.
  7. You can dip it again.
  8. Let dry, and polish as usual.
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October 28, 20171 found this helpful

Use water, a soft sponge and liquid dishwashing detergent

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By 0 found this helpful
December 6, 2014

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


January 15, 20190 found this helpful

Fill your sink up with half distilled vinegar and half water. Make sure it's enough to have your silver pieces completely covered let them sit in there for about an hour or less depending on how bad they are.then take them out Rinse them off and whip them down and they should look brand new

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January 16, 20190 found this helpful

It is advised to use polish for silver. Other things can corrode and pit it. I returned and gave away any silver and silver plated items I received when I married for the reason that I hate polishing it.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 23, 2010

What can I use for a natural silver cleaner?

By Lisa


October 27, 20101 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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October 27, 20101 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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December 6, 20140 found this helpful

How do you remove lacquer from silver and silver plate?

By Hilda


April 28, 20190 found this helpful


Fill the sink with very hot water and add some ammonia. Soak the silver object in the ammonia, and hot water, until the water is no longer hot. Rub off the lacquer with a cloth.

For more information, see the following link:

Have a blessed day!


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March 18, 20130 found this helpful

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


April 17, 20131 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 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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December 4, 20120 found this helpful

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


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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June 8, 20130 found this helpful

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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July 20, 20120 found this helpful

What is best way to clean silver and silverplate?

By Connie N.

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April 1, 20120 found this helpful

How do I remove old lacquer from silver?

By Eva

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February 27, 20191 found this helpful

Many people have found that they can remove the tarnish from their silver using a process involving mixing boiling water with baking soda in a foil lined pan. This is a page about using baking soda to clean silver.

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September 17, 20180 found this helpful

The mild abrasives in toothpaste make it an inexpensive cleaner for silver including some styles of jewelry. This is a page about toothpaste for cleaning silver.

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September 20, 20170 found this helpful

Silver can become tarnished in many different ways, but tarnish resulting from bleach is sure to require some thorough cleaning. Here are some ideas about how to fix sterling silver tarnished by bleach.

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July 16, 20110 found this helpful

This is a page 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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March 2, 20103 found this helpful

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

By Mary

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

April 1, 20111 found this helpful

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

John from Chicago, IL


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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October 23, 20100 found this helpful

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

Sheila from Ontario


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.


By Monique

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.

By Sheila

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 Deanna

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.)

By Catherine Voci

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)


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December 16, 20080 found this helpful

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?



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 Louise B.

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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