Cleaning Silver

My New Year's clean sweep as usual turned into a week long project where I get in the weeds trying to organize the house for a fresh start. Cleaning up after the holiday parties turned into a complete reorg of every serving piece in the house. I decided to give a try to an idea I'd seen on Pinterest for cleaning silver. I collect yard sale silver plated serving pieces so I was looking for a quick way to shine them up. I lined the sink with foil, added some generous scoops of salt and baking soda and filled the sink with scalding hot water. The chemical reaction resulting from the aluminum, salt and soda removed the tarnish! It actually worked! Lesson learned. Dip the entire piece at once or you'll get a line of demarcation on your piece. I also kept adding hot water and more ingredients because the hotter the water, the quicker it works. Remove the pieces from the solution and buff the remaining spots off with a cotton cloth.
Prepping the sink
The ingredients
Test run
You can see the lip where it wasn't submerged fully. 5 min for the piece, but another 15 to get this to come off.
I went a little overboard
The tarnish transferred to the foil

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Danielle B

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

34 questions
  • Dianne
    on Jan 24, 2016

    Will lining the sink with foil and doing the same process as with the silver item work the same on silver coins? They are not rare etc. thanks

  • Karen Campbell
    on Jan 24, 2016

    Will this also work on silver jewelry (specifically necklaces) ?

  • Lee
    on Jan 24, 2016

    What are the ingridients? I see baking soda what is the other one?

  • Maureen
    on Jan 25, 2016

    How much baking soda and salt?

    on Mar 20, 2016

    Where do you get aluminum foil "that wide" to make the sink hold water?

    • Barb
      on May 9, 2016

      heavy duty foil is wider than standard sizeAdd an answer...

    on Mar 20, 2016

    Where can you get silver paper/aluminum foil "wide enough for a sink" so that it will HOLD the fluid/etc/water????

      on Mar 20, 2016

      Figured it out - DA - you stop up the sink and just "cover" sides and bottom. There is no "solid piece"..

    • JamieLynne Honley
      on May 22, 2016

      I also use the alum foil in the long box extra strength.

    • Carol martin99019
      on Aug 16, 2016

      Just layer it in the sink, or use a foil pan.

    • Linda
      on Aug 26, 2016

      I've also used a bowl and done silver jewelry with 1 tsp each soda and salt. Safe for pearls and soft precious stones like Opal answer peridot.

  • Roc4968683
    on Jul 14, 2016

    How much of the soda and salt do you use?

    • Teri
      on Aug 12, 2016

      Just ask on Google , if I'm not mistaken Martha Stewart has a recipe for this method.

    • Carol martin99019
      on Aug 16, 2016

      I just throw in a hand full for a small load for awhile sink I use one half of a small box.

  • Phyllis H
    on Jul 14, 2016

    Would an aluminum pan from the dollar store work?

  • Barbara Clark Sims
    on Aug 12, 2016

    Would this work for silver plated items?

  • Sha9597750
    on Aug 13, 2016

    Is it hard on your silver?

    • Til8970532
      on Aug 13, 2016

      Are you asking about pure silver or silver plated as demonstrated?

    • Carol martin99019
      on Aug 16, 2016

      This makes a simple cell battery, it pulls the tarnish off. It does not hurt the silver. However if you like the dark decorations as relief on your silver, kiss that goodbye, as it pulls all tarnish out.

    • Carol martin99019
      on Aug 16, 2016

      Any foil works

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jan 25, 2017

      It isn't hard on the silver if you don't use the salt. it's not necessary and will slowly eat your silver. the rest of the chemical reaction actually restores the silver

  • Wan7077334
    on Sep 3, 2016

    What are the measurements of the salt and baking soda for cleaning silver. Thanks .

  • Karen H.
    on Sep 15, 2016

    Does this work on brass as well?

  • Sharyn Winick
    on Oct 4, 2016

    what is generous amount? 1 cup of both 2 c?

  • Pam Lewandowski
    on Jan 23, 2017

    Does this work for jewelry?

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jan 25, 2017

      Yes, but careful not to use it on any soft stones like turquoise or pearls. they will get ruined

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Jan 25, 2017

      don't use salt. it will actually slowly corrode the silver and make pits in it.

  • Lma6872166
    on Mar 17, 2017

    Beside Brasso what is good for cleaning brass ornaments?

  • Greg Norris
    on Mar 17, 2017

    Where are the instructions? Do you just dump the salt and soda in the water? How much of each?

    • Kelly Lofing
      on Mar 20, 2017

      She said she started with generous scoops of salt and baking soda then added the hot water. Not an exact science. She also said she added more of everything as she went along.

  • Teena Newport
    on Mar 17, 2017

    does it have to be sterling or does this work on silver plated items also?

  • Tri12531505
    on Mar 17, 2017

    Why line the sink? I think you have porcelain...but I have stainless. Is it necessary?

    • Claudia Freiman
      on Mar 17, 2017

      Aluminum is the metal that causes the chemical reaction. You can use an aluminum roasting pan as well for smaller items.

    • Frankie
      on Mar 17, 2017

      The reaction is with the aluminum, salt and baking soda. Tarnish transfers to the aluminum.

    • Morgan
      on Mar 17, 2017

      Yes it is necessary. You need all the correct ingredients to get the tarnish removing chemical reaction. Take one ingredient away, or substitute something else, and all you end up with are wasted materials aka "a nothingburger"

    • Sandy
      on Apr 7, 2017

      You can use coke for the same effect.
    • Karen Elizabeth Miller
      on Apr 7, 2017

      I learned the hard way when I decided to "de-tarnish" my silverware in a pot on the stove, skipping the foil and using just the salt and soda and water. The tarnish transferred to the the pot destroying the shiny interior. BIG mistake. Lesson learned!
  • Seems like a great idea. How much of each do I use? I have my grandmothers and mothers silver. Some of it is well over 100 years old.
  • Jan Jungjohann
    on Apr 7, 2017

    How much of each ingredient?
  • Hel14836316
    on Apr 7, 2017

    What are the amounts for jewelry cleaning?
  • Vickie
    on Apr 10, 2017

    I have a stainless steel sink. Will this method work with aluminum inside stainless steel sink?
  • Valerie Shelton
    on Apr 11, 2017

    I would love to try this project. I have a silver teapot that is almost black. What are the measurements of the ingredients?
  • Mrs14282620
    on Aug 5, 2017

    I did not get second ingredient and is water cold or hot length of time
  • Lry25551634
    on Sep 4, 2017

    What are the proportions of salt and baking soda? Would afoul pan work just as well as foil lined pan?
  • L Conner
    on Sep 4, 2017

    How much salt and soda do you use for a sinkful of water?
    • Becky
      on Sep 4, 2017

      Try 1 to 1. 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of soda. If you nee more add but keep it 1 to 1,
  • Betty Mott
    on Sep 5, 2017

    What proportions did you use?
  • Gerry
    on Sep 19, 2017

    Would this "pit" sterling silver??
  • Helen Walsh
    on Nov 9, 2018

    I'll certainly give it a go but I must know the proportions of the ingredients, first. Can you please give them to me? Thank you.

  • Elaine Lee
    on Feb 3, 2019

    So just baking soda and salt in a foil lined sink?? I will definitely be cleaning my silverware

    very soon. Thank you so much!!

  • Rea Bensusen
    on Sep 26, 2019

    Does it hurt the stainless steel sink?

  • Ashley
    on Nov 1, 2019

    You need hot, almost boiling water, to put the silver in, otherwise the salt and baking soda won't react with the foil to clean the silver. Also, has anyone else had issues with buildup on their silver after using this method??? It looks great for a few hours, then starts to show signs of residue...

  • Kelli Cook
    on Apr 14, 2020

    You boil the silver jewelry?

  • Vicky Sue Virzuela
    on Aug 8, 2020

    Isn’t it dangerous to be mixing these chemicals?

    • Jen
      on Sep 21, 2020

      It is a chemical reaction not chemicals technically. The items used in this is the same as used in baking edible treats.

Join the conversation

2 of 85 comments
  • Jenny
    on Aug 7, 2020

    Beware everyone this works on solid silver and you may get away with doing it on silver plate but it removes the corrosion plus a thin layer of silver : you are after all creating an electrolytic cell. The layer of corroded silver is removed by electrolysis onto the aluminium. If you have silver plated items the day will soon dawn when you are down to base metal.

  • Amy H
    on Aug 24, 2020

    Also, never submerge a silver piece that has a weighted base. If water/solution gets inside your piece will be ruined.

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