The Best-Kept Silver Cleaning Secret Ever!

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Sad Lookin’ Silver

We all have that tangled lump of silver jewelry sitting in a drawer, basket or box somewhere. 

I recently came across mine and was slightly saddened to see how tarnished it had become after a few months out of circulation…

My pile included a Links of London charm, an old silver bracelet, a Tiffany ring, a few pairs of earrings, etc.  I’ve also noticed that for whatever chemical reason, my body reacts to silver and blackens it after a few wears (I believe this has to do with the alkaline balance in my body – but I am sure someone smarter than I can correct me on that).

I kind of chuckle/snort/cry when I see silver polishing products.

They are so utterly expensive and don’t always work.

There’s got to be a better way.

Saddened that my silver jewelry didn’t look as beautiful as I wanted it to, I investigated the best, most effective way to clean silver that yielded exceptional results.  I was so excited.  I cleaned every piece of silver I could find in my house.  It was amazing, I felt really accomplished.   This doesn’t preclude other silver pieces, such as family heirlooms, silverware and service pieces, picture frames, coins, heck even silver bars.  I tested a few techniques out but this one seems to be the magic combination.  It can be used on all kinds of silver alloys, but cannot be used of other metals or costume jewelry.  Silver only!

What you’ll need:

1) 1 cup of boiling water

2) 1 tablespoon baking soda

3) 1 tablespoon white salt

4) 1/2 cup white vinegar

5) 1 sheet of tinfoil, shiny side up

6) bowl (I used a soup bowl but you can use a larger bowl or even a bucket depending on how much silver you have)

7) Polishing cloth (I used a microfiber cloth).

What to do:

Prep it

Boil the water.  While it’s simmering up, line the bottom of the bowl with the tinfoil, shiny side up.  I literally covered the bowl with tinfoil.  Then, add the salt and baking soda to the bottom of the bowl.  Add the vinegar slowly (prepare for the fizz) and mix everything together to dissolve the salt and baking soda.  You want all the granules to dissolve so that they don’t scratch your pieces (always thinking…).

Go Ahead & Wait

Add the boiling water to your bowl and then gently drop each piece of silver in the bowl.  Just let it sit, the chemical reaction does all the work for you.  If you wish, you can flip them over (like burgers on a Q) with salad tongs, just to ensure that both sides get exposure to the tinfoil.

Spit & Polish

Take each piece out carefully, being sure not to burn yourself, and buff it gently with your polishing cloth.  You should start to see all the tarnish come off and all the original glory of your silver come back!

If you have charms or stones, you can try massaging good old ketchup onto the silver and rinsing it clean…I don’t think this mixture is OK for enamelled charms (although I did it on mine – I was willing to take the risk).

See what I mean?

So easy, so cheap and so incredibly effective!  Enjoy this tip!

535 COMMENTS

  1. I will have to say I was doubtful that this was going to get my Tiffany bracelet cleaned, it looked horrible from the hot springs. However, it looks AMAZING NOW! Thank you so much for this advice! We visited the hot springs in Utah few days ago and my Tiffany bracelet looked horrible! I dropped it in your solution and it immediately came clean. So I went upstairs and got my Tiffany necklace that tarnished because I haven’t worn it and dropped it in and it’s perfect too. It cleaned it excellent! You saved me a ton of money from taking it to Tiffany’s and paying to have it clean there. I think they charged me about a hundred and fifty the last time I took my bracelet to be polished and cleaned.

  2. If you substitute 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent (not dishwasher) for the vinegar you can clean your gold jewelry. I have used it for silver as well and it comes out beautifully. Its great to get the gunk out of your stones, do not use for opals and pearls though.

  3. I have an easier formula that I use on a silver service. Foil in bottom of sink. Add table salt and liquid softener in a sink of hot warer I don’t measure, just pour in a lot of salt, 2-3 pours of softener. Lay pieces in sink. In a few minutes it is clean. Rinse, dry and polish with soft cloth. Works like a charm. Use to spend hours cleaning.

  4. Excellent, I thank you very much. I’m a boot coin/jewelry collector mostly for recovery but now you’ve changed me a lot. The stuff that can’t be saved is recycled and the other is cleaned and given to my wife, 2 daughter’s, 4 sisters, nieces and so on. Christmas gifts and they think it’s new or brilliantly preserved items and I got it dirt cheap or for free at times. I am amazed and thank you very much again. Sincerely and very Respectively, Tim Mecca, Retired EOD Tech, USMC, 100 % total and permanently disabled – reading this you can see you gave me something to do and proud of the results.

  5. I just tried this on my graduated beads tiffany necklace and pendant…. the outcome is unreal. I though i was going to have to take it into the store to get it polished but this actually worked. I am stunned. It actually looks good as new, Thanks for the great advice!

  6. Hi! I just tried this on a silver ice bucket that I have….an art deco piece from England….It was completely black. I made the recipe leaving out the vinegar after reading a few posts about plated silver. I can’t make out the marks on the bottom of the piece so I wanted to be safe. This was absolutely amazing. I had been trying to polish it today with silver polish but the tarnish was very deep. I got nowhere in over an hour of rubbing. The ice bucket was in near perfect condition after about 5 minutes in this wash. I then rinsed it and proceeded to use the silver polish for a quick wipe to clear up the cloudiness. It looks amazing! I am thrilled and will use it on all of the other silver pieces I have!

  7. Best advie I have had in years I’m 61 years old and a jewelry collector. All of these suggestions work great. Years ago we were told to use ammonia mixed with detergent. Just a little ammonia. Really makes your diamonds shine but it’s just too harsh. Just used a silver polishing cloth and very little silver cleaner. That was our other option for silver. This will save me so much time I’m so excited thank you!

  8. Do Not use this method very often it strips the silver plate off the pieces, so can end up with only bare metal, no silver. If you ask people who sell silver plate of silver they will tell you never ever use this method, since it will destroy the finish.

  9. I have a silver store so I do a lot of silver cleaning. I was told by a silversmith, while this method works, it is not good for the silver. Over time the baking doda, salt & vinegar can leave your silver pitted. For over 20 years I have used the tin foil sprinkled liberally with Calgon water softener & the hotest water out of your tap, once the Calgon has dissolved, place your silver on the foil, rotating if necessary. Voila, clean without any damage to the silver & it works beautifully! If your silver was black you may need to give it that ‘extra’ spatkle with a mild silver ckeaner, like Twinkle. Hope you give this a try!

    • I have not been able to find the powdered Calgon, only liquid (at Wally World); I’ve always felt the powdered did a better job on laundry. Suggestions where to find it?

      Also, agree with you on the pitting issue using caustic vinegar/soda solution. To be fair, though, I read recently that those two ingredients sort of cancel each other out, and become neutral. I still wouldn’t chance it, especially on plated items.

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