Silver Cleaning Hacks

8 Materials
30 Minutes

I have an heirloom that is silver and I have been wanting to clean it up. I decided to try a bunch of silver cleaning hacks to see what would work best to clean it. I started with some silverware that I had to do the test runs.

Let's start with the top 3 winners!

Boiling method: In a pot place a large piece of tin foil in the bottom, fill with 4 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Bring to a boil.
Place your silver in the boiling water for 10-30 seconds and pull out. It's pretty amazing to watch the tarnish literally disappear!
Place your silver in the boiling water for 10-30 seconds and pull out. It's pretty amazing to watch the tarnish literally disappear!
Baking Soda & Water Paste: Place 1/4 cup baking soda and 1-2 tablespoons of water into a bowl and make a paste.
Use a cloth to rub the mixture onto the sliver. When finished cleaning, rinse off.
Toothpaste Method - For this use regular toothpaste (not gel). I used Crest no flavor regular toothpaste.
Put the toothpaste on a cloth and rub the silver with the toothpaste. Rinse off when finished cleaning.
Honorable Mentions: these technique worked but not quite as well as the above or took a little longer or more effort than I wanted.

Water & Ammonia: Place 1 cup warm water in a bowl. Add 1/2 c. Ammonia, stir and place the silver in the bowl.
Let soak for 10 minutes. When finished use a cloth to wipe clean and rinse off. I found it didn't completely come clean but it did make a difference.
Vinegar & Baking Soda: Place 1/2 cup vinegar in a bowl with 2 tablespoons baking soda. Let soak for 2-3 hours.
Let soak for 2-3 hours, rinse and dry off. I found that I needed to use a scrub pad and still scrub at it after it soaked. I was digging into the baking soda to do the scrubbing. So it worked but why not just use the baking soda technique from above...
Lemon Juice, Water, & Powdered Milk: In a dish place 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 cup instant powdered milk and mix. It literally turns sour and looks gross (just a heads up).
Let this soak overnight. The next day take a cloth and wipe clean. Once it's clean rinse it off. This method worked pretty well and surprised me. I just don't know if I want to wait a whole day for everything to get cleaned.
What didn't work???
  • Soaking in lemon lime soda for 1 hour
  • Cleaning with hand sanitizer - although if your looking to remove fingerprints and such this worked great for that and gave it a nice shine.

Special notes - to stop the tarnish from coming back with regards to small items and silverware - place in a ziploc baggie and squeeze as much air out as possible. It's the air that causes the tarnish to come back.

For Silver plated items - stay away from acid cleaners like vinegar and lemon juice. It could harm the plating.
Here is my heirloom that I'm going to clean up and turn into a lamp... coming soon

Here is my heirloom that I'm going to clean up and turn into a lamp... coming soon (don't worry we have checked that it isn't worth anything, and beyond repair).

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 37 questions
  • Sheiba
    on Jul 16, 2019

    Would you or anyone know how to clean the scum around the cover plastic headlights

  • Diane Coverdale
    on Jul 17, 2019

    Is your hierloom a silver oboe? Be very careful on cleaning it. Don't immerse the entire instrument as it should break down into two or three sections. Another silver cleaning hack I know is Spic and Span, hot water to dilute (powder or liquid) and a piece of aluminum metal but I think just using the stainless steel sink worked too. Run some hot water into the stopped sink, add the Spic and Span you don't need much, a teaspoon or two. Let it dissolve. Add the aluminum piece into the water. Add your silver into the hot wster solution but make sure it touches the aluminum metal. The tarnish should disappear in a couple of seconds. Rinse well and dry. Parts of your instrument might be able to be cleaned this way but not the middle part with the finger stops as the pads aren't entirely silver. But it works for cutlery!


    • Chas' Crazy Creations
      on Jul 17, 2019

      Thank you for sharing Diane. No my heirloom is a clarinet. We brought it in to be evaluated and it's not worth anything and not able to be playable anymore.

  • Judy K
    on Jan 2, 2020

    I unfortunately ran my moms silver plate through the dishwasher and it looks ghostly ( foggy). Is there anyway to restore the shine?

    • Chas' Crazy Creations
      on Jan 3, 2020

      I would start with the paste method and see if it clears up. The boiling method is great but can be harsh on some silvers - especially silver plated items.

Join the conversation

4 of 104 comments
  • Linnea
    on May 2, 2019

    Use care not to dip silver with elaborate designs as the oxidized portions that are intentionally present to enhance the design can be removed. This will lessen the beauty and the value of the piece (flatware or jewelry). Pastes would be a better choice.

  • Karen Morin
    on Jul 16, 2019

    Tin foil, washing soda and boiling water.

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