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!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

589 COMMENTS

  1. if you pickle vegetables, then you cannot use regular salt: you must use that which has no iodine in it.

    so, when you say to use ‘white salt’, i am not sure what you mean.

    do you mean the white salt that is iodized, or that like i use for pickling, meaning white salt without iodine in it?

    in addition, sea salt is white. morton salt sells it in fine grain, too. so what happens if i use white sea salt rather than iodized or not-iodized white salt from the baking aisle of the local grocery store? and this is important as a notice to anyone that uses sea salt as a flavor enhancer of food:

    you should not eat sea salt on all your food because we hardly ever get iodine in foods, but iodine is the one thing that strengthens your thyroid gland. if you are ever exposed to radiation, the only organ of your body that will help you is the thyroid gland. i think that’s why you do not see TV chefs using too much sea salt in their recipes. i only use sea salt on food at the maximum of one out of 3 meals since i love its nonmetallic flavor; however, due to the fact stated above, i probably only eat food with sea salt on it more like 1 out of 10 meals. iodized sea salt, by the way, used to be sold via amazon.com, up until about when i bought mine, which was approximately 2000. that sea salt does taste metallic, however.

    please clarify exactly what type of white salt to use. (i have never seen any edible salt of a different color, so it is not clear to me what ‘white salt’ is).

  2. I noticed you mentioned “tin” foil but it’s it safe to assume, since it isn’t avaliable for purchase easily anymore, you meant to say “aluminum” foil? Just curious since the different metals would have different affects chemically…

  3. It worked a treat! Really pleased, just hope they don’t tarnish again. I cleaned my items with a silver cleaning cloth and it made them worse! Would never use one again. Thanks. 👍

    • Hi Kim! Thanks for watching! White vinegar is best, but apple cider vinegar will work if it’s all you have. It will probably need to soak for a little longer. Hope that helps!

  4. How do I clean velvet=lined jewelry boxes? They are silver and tarnished but I’m afraid of damaging the velvet lining inside and in the bottom.

    • Tiffany and Co will Polish your jewelry anytime for free. And you can get it tumbled (makes it look new) for $15.
      When I clean my Tiffany jewelry at home, I use this method and then go over it with the Tiffany & Co Silver polish. Works great

  5. I just used this remedy today and it worked awesome!!! I can not believe how sparkling my Tiffany bracelet, earrings, and necklace got! I should have taken a before and after picture! Thank you!! Great tip!

  6. This also works on gold and gemstone rings to get out the gunky lotions and soaps that clog up the settings. Just don’t use it on pearls or opals or any other soft stones.

  7. Thanks for the top!! I had a pile of silverware to clean and started out cleaning with polish. I went online and found your tip and it worked like a charm. Than you again!!! 😘😊

  8. I just finished the process on my Tiffany bracelet, Tiffany necklace and Pandora bracelet and charms, it worked perfectly! Thanks because these were all items I had in the kitchen already…you ROCK!

    • Rub the baking soda on the frame with your hand then wipe it with water then dry it will be sooo shiny ! I did it so many times and it works really good.

    • You should definiteley NOT use this method for turquoise. It will become damaged or dicoloured and lose it’s finish. Lapis Lazuli is fine because it’s much harder and has a different make-up to Turquoise.

    • For the chemical reaction to work really, you’re converting the silver sulfide (tarnish) back into good old silver and aluminum sulfide. The magic of chemistry!

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