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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Frequently asked questions

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3 of 41 questions
  • Lynne Lynne on Jan 11, 2021

    Have you tried putting your tarnished items in a ziploc gallon bag with 1/2 cup of ammonia, seal tight, and let set overnight? It's best to not immerse the silverware in the ammonia. I use a trivet in the bag to lay the silverware on. The fumes are what cleans it. Also good for cleaning nasty burnt on pots and pans.

  • Connie Connie on Jan 14, 2021

    Question How to clean brass.

  • Diana Runs with Scissors Diana Runs with Scissors on Jan 18, 2021

    I cannot wait to see your clarinet turned into a lamp. I have one. I would love to do that since it is 65 years old. Also, I have a lamp that I would like to clean up but I'm afraid what to put on it. It is turn of the century. At one time it was an oil lamp that was converted to electric. I will attach a picture. Do you have any idea what would be safe to clean it with? I will come back and post a picture. Would love your ideas.


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3 of 134 comments
  • Linnea Linnea on Jan 19, 2021

    I would never dip sterling silver flatware to clean. It removes the oxidated silver (intentionally blackened by the silver manufacturer) around the pattern which gives it depth and enhances the design features. Dipped silver has a flat appearance and hides the beautiful detail in the pattern. I have used Wrights Silver Cream for many years on sterling and silverplated flat and holloware followed by a buff with a rouge cloth and it looks just like new. The polish is not expensive and even with infrequent use, lasts a very long time. I have used a dip for fork tines only as the tarnish is difficult to reach with the cream's sponge.

    • Camilla Camilla on Mar 09, 2021

      Absolutely agree. I inherited a few pieces that obviously had been dipped, and all the detail in the design is not appreciated. After cleaning silver, I made Pacific silvercloth bags to store the flatware and holloware serving pieces, and line a silver chest with additional silvercloth so polishing is a rare event.