How to Clean Silver – Best DIY Ways to Polish Silver & Remove Tarnish
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No matter how well you care for your silver jewelry, dishes, and cutlery, they will naturally tarnish over time. Although silver doesn’t require as much upkeep as common household items like bed sheets and kitchen appliances, it still needs to be cleaned every so often to be restored to its original shine. Your most-worn rings, necklaces, and other jewelry pieces may only need to be polished from time to time, but any fine silver that is left on display or tucked inside jewelry boxes may require a more intensive clean, especially since the chemical reaction from air and light exposure causes silver to tarnish. Keep in mind polishing is abrasive, no matter how delicate your hand, so it’s best to keep cleaning to a minimum — anywhere from two to six times a year.
While it’s not possible to get rid of tarnish and discoloration altogether, follow this guide on how to clean silver from Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, to make it sparkle again. Although there are go-to cleaning products that make for a more effective clean, we’ve also included a few homemade cleaning remedies with basic pantry finds, including dish soap and baking soda. All of these cleaning methods are effective ways to bring back luster on all kinds of silver pieces, from prized antiques to brand-new sterling silver.
How to Clean Silver
Wiping your candlesticks, trays, or jewelry with a microfiber cloth removes dust, but it won’t make them sparkle and shine. Instead, use a targeted silver polish like Good Housekeeping Seal star Weiman Silver Polish. Follow this step-by-step guide to polish silver properly:
- Put a small amount of silver polish on a clean cloth, dampened if necessary.
- Rub the polish on your item in an up-and-down motion, not circular to avoid highlighting fine scratches.
- Turn the cloth frequently as you work, so tarnish isn’t deposited back on your item.
- Rinse in warm water and buff with a clean, dry cloth to shine.
If You’re Out of Polish, Try These Homemade Cleaners
Without a doubt, targeted polish (mentioned above) is the most effective way to clean silver. But if you’re in a pinch, you can turn to your pantry for homemade remedies.
- For silver that is dull, filmy, or not yet discolored, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water and dip in a soft cloth. Rub the jewelry, then rinse in cool water and buff with a cloth until dry.
- For silver that is heavily tarnished, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry.
How to Prevent Tarnish
Natural discoloration is unavoidable, but there are some ways to make sure that your flatware, jewelry, and dishes don’t lose their luster as quickly. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to prevent tarnish:
- Store each piece of silver jewelry in its own anti-tarnish bag in a cool, dry spot.
- Put a piece of chalk in an anti-tarnish bag to help remove moisture from the air.
- Put jewelry on after perfume to prevent it from sticking to your silver.
- Don’t be afraid to wear your silver: Friction slows down tarnishing, which means the more you wear it, the more it’ll shine.
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