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How to Clean Silver, Easily!

3 Materials
$15
30 Minutes
Easy

My tarnished silver was getting me down, but there was no way I was doing all that polishing! Instead, I decided to try this baking soda silver cleaning trick I've been seeing all over the internet. I'm sure you've seen it too, but there are several versions of it, and I wanted to know which version was the one that actually worked - and why. So, after doing some research, I chose to use baking soda,
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
Turns out, silver tarnish is actually what happens when the air interacts with the silver and turns its outer layer into silver sulfide (which is black). You could take some silver polish and use a lot of elbow grease and polish off the layer of silver sulfide, which will rub away some of your silver each time, or you can sit back and use science to turn that silver sulfide back to shiny silver. Step 1: Boil a Pot of Water This step is fairly obvious - I just filled a pot with water and turned my stove onto high heat. Step 2: Add a Ball of Aluminum Foil
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
For the second step (equally easy), I ripped a piece of aluminum foil off my roll, crumpled it up into a loose ball, and tossed it into my pot as it boiled. You don't want to crumple it up too tightly, because your silver will have to be touching the aluminum foil for this trick to work. Step 3: Add a Cup of Baking Soda
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
Once the water came to a rolling boil, I added a cup of baking soda (a tablespoon at a time), and turned the flame lower. I had a lot of silver, so I wanted to water to stay hot for a while, but you could turn the stove off completely if you have less silver to shine. Step 4: Dunk Your Tarnished Silver into the Pot
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
Now, here's where the fun starts! I slipped a silver tray into the pot, letting the whole piece slide right in. Because it was big enough and would be touching the foil on its own, I didn't need to hold onto it. For the smaller pieces, I made sure to place them carefully in the pot or to hold them against the foil. Remember, as long as your silver piece is touching the foil, this trick will work.
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
For something with a light tarnish, a quick dip is all you'll need. For a thick coat of tarnish, like my grandmother's silver tray, you may have to leave it in for a few minutes. If you're doing a large amount of silver in more than one shift, you may have to add another half a cup of baking soda. Step 5: Wipe Your Silver Dry
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
When my tray was looking really bright and shiny, I slipped on a heavy glove and removed the tray from the pot. Silver is a great heat conductor, so make sure to use a glove or tongs to retrieve your sparkling pieces. Using a cloth, I buffed off the water, to prevent my newly-shiny silver from getting any water marks.
how to clean silver easily, cleaning tips, how to
And here's the difference! One dunk later and my fingers aren't even a little bit tired. Look at that crazy shine, all thanks to science!

Resources for this project:

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, 1 lb. (Pack of 6)
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 93 questions
  • Rgriese
    on Jan 5, 2019

    I did this as well, although I found the silver tarnished again within a week! How is your silver after some time has passed?

    • Mom
      30 minutes ago

      Back in the day, and still available online (home hobby/sewing fabrics places; Amazon, etc. do your online searching) - Silver Cloth - some places you can buy it by the yard and make your own bags or cut them into shapes to wrap around your silver pieces. Or just buy the bags themselves. Here's a link to Amazon USA:

      https://www.amazon.com/Anti-Tarnish-Silver-Cloth-Brown/dp/B00S5FP2FK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1550437909&sr=8-5&keywords=silver+cloth


      But I will have to try this trick for the few pieces of silver I have.

      As for sterling silver jewelry, if cleaned and then once cleaned, worn daily, your body oils will naturally protect the silver from tarnishing. If it's a piece that you wear infrequently, then it needs to be wiped and then wrapped in a silver cloth.

  • Christie Haun
    on Jan 5, 2019

    For anybody else asking the question...…


    Could 'slyer' possibly be a typo of trying to type 'Layer'? You'd be putting a layer of foil into the bottom of the sink.


    Just a thought.

  • Judy Phariss
    on Jan 7, 2019

    Could you use this on copper. I have a copper spitoon.

    • Mom
      25 minutes ago

      I've not seen a way to do copper like this in water. It's pretty much a vinegar and salt combination. I remember my great-grandmother showing me how to clean a copper teapot with vinegar and salt. The copper is dipped into vinegar, or vinegar is swabbed onto the copper with a soft cloth, and then the salt is rubbed on the really bad parts with a different soft cloth. Kind of have to keep working with both. Its good to have a bowl of salt and a separate bowl of vinegar (like ramekins or measuring cups or small plastic food containers, depends on how big or how many pieces of copper you are going to do. Some smaller things, probably 1/4 cup of vinegar and a teaspoon or tablespoon of salt would work.

      And by "salt" I used table salt back in the day. I really don't know, now that I have been using Celtic salt for my dietary needs, if Celtic salt would work "better" to clean copper with it, than the table salt (which is usually sodium chloride AND iodine.). I don't know if a) non-Iodinized salt works better or if the standard table salt WITH the iodine makes a difference. Never thought about or was aware of the difference back in the day, and I've not cleaned any copper in years.

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3 of 153 comments
  • Nancy Turner
    on Jan 6, 2019

    Be carful with this hack, yes it only if you need it done right away in an emergency. It will take some of the metal off. Be careful with jewelry, it may damage softer stones like opal, turquoise, pearls, etc. I value all the silver and silver plate that I have purchased or inherited. I only use plain old fashioned toothpaste with nothing added, a rag and a toothbrush. I have sterling jewelry that I have had for almost fifty years and have never used any kind of solution you dip the items in. I saw my mom do it once and some turned grey, others needed to be scrubbed really hard to get the residue off. Salts will also turn silver black and it takes a lot to get that off, I made the mistake once of not taking off a sterling chain and charm to use a saltwater hot tub, and it took forever to get it looking back to normal. I have been wearing that sterling chain and charm since 1972 and it always looked brand new and worn daily.

    • Liz
      on Jan 6, 2019

      Thank you for sharing this. I agree 100%! For my sterling jewelry, I sometimes buff with a special silver cleaning cloth that I get in the jewelry section of Walmart. It is soft and treated with a gentle silver polish. I keep it in my jewelry drawer.

  • Suze
    on Jan 8, 2019

    i would be careful with this quick fix--it does not clean the silver, it's actually a chemical reaction that transfers the aluminum to the silver object. it does not last. the same thing will happen to jewelry if you hang a ring in jewelry cleaner from a paper clip.

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