How to Clean Silver Using Regular Products in Your Home – DIY Guide
Silver earrings, bracelets and household objects complement our styles and bring beauty to our homes. Overtime however, silver can tarnish and lose its shine and beauty. The tarnishing occurs as silver comes into contact with sulphur-containing gases in the air. This is what leads to the discolouring and darkening overtime.
How do the gases react with silver?
The colour of your silver objects changes as the process of tarnishing begins. Silver in its pure state is resistant to changes; it is also very light to produce jewellery or tableware. Most of our silver objects are made of sterling silver, which is composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, quite often copper.
It is the copper (or other metals), which is less resistant to moisture and sulphur in the air, that leads to the discolouration and darkening of your silver objects as time goes by.
History of silver
The history of mining silver goes back to 3000 BC in modern day Greece and Turkey where the inhabitants of these lands developed the tools to refine silver. In modern times, silver became a precious commodity when the Spanish entered South America and discovered lands rich with silver ores. Through them, and other Europeans, silver found its way into Europe.
Can cleaning remove the tarnish?
Yes, your silver can be restored to the shinny, glossy state it was in when you purchased it and can almost look brand new.
Restoring your silver to its beauty doesn’t need to be costly or time consuming. Here, we give you easy to follow methods and cleaning recipes that will return your silver objects to their best condition.
How to clean silver with baking soda
For this method of cleaning silver, all you need is baking soda, aluminium foil, hot water and a pot to place your silver objects in. Cover the inside of the pot with aluminium foil and pour in the hot water, covering a third or half of the pot, depending on how deep it is.
Then add 2 spoons of baking soda, which can cause the mixture to bubble over, so make sure your pot is deep enough. Add in your silver and leave them in the mixture for 20 seconds. If they are large objects that are not fully immersed, turn them over, using a spoon or kitchen tongs, every few seconds to get full coverage.
When you take them out, if you can still see discolouration, give it a good scrub with a sponge. Then rinse it and dry it off with a cloth.
How to clean silver using salt, baking soda and vinegar
Instead of just baking soda, here we add in salt. As above, grab a pot, aluminium foil, baking soda, and this time: salt and white vinegar. Cover the inside of your pot with the aluminium foil and pour in hot water, enough to ensure your silver is immersed in water.
Then add a spoon of baking soda, a spoon of salt and half a cup of white vinegar. Drop your silver in and leave it in for about 15 to 20 seconds. If necessary turn your silver over, to ensure even coverage.
Once tarnish-free, remove your silver and dry them off with a piece cloth.
Cleaning silver with hand sanitizer
Surprisingly, hand sanitizer works perfectly as a silver polisher. Unlike the soaking methods, you will need to do the scrubbing (or rubbing in this case). Grab a small clean cloth and squirt in a few drops of hand sanitizer and polish your silver clean. Once shinny, rinse off the hand sanitizer using water and dry your silver with a cloth.
Cleaning silver with Lemon juice and powdered milk
Get a pot and fill it with 3 cups of water, then add two table spoons of lemon juice, one cup of powdered milk. Mix the content and add your silver object and leave it to soak in overnight.
When you take it out, rinse it and dry it.
Cleaning silver with lemon and bath salt
If it’s just jewellery you are cleaning, squeeze lemon into a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of bath salt. Add hot water and place your jewellery in the mixture. Leave it in there for about 5 minutes, then take them out and rub off the tarnishing with a cloth.
For bigger objects, use lemon juice (a cup or more depending of the size of your silver) and half a cup of bath salt and leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes. Take it out and rinse it under water, then dry it with a cloth.
Polishing silver with toothpaste
Another great cleaning agent to clean silver with is toothpaste, just squeeze a small amount of toothpaste on a cleaning cloth and rub it on your silver objects. Rub the toothpaste on your silver until it’s restored to its original condition. If your silver is heavily tarnished, you can scrub it with a toothbrush. Rinse the toothpaste off with water and dry your silver before storing it away.
How to clean silver using laundry detergent
You can use laundry detergent as a silver cleaner. For this method, you need a pot, hot water, aluminium foil and powdered laundry detergent. Fill your pot with enough water to submerge your silver items in and add in one tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent. Mix it and add in your silver. Take them out after a minute and rinse them with water before you dry it.
Cleaning silver with ketchup
Ketchup may not be an obvious choice as a silver cleaner, but it actually works in removing the grey, black coating from silver.
Squirt it on a soft cleaning cloth and rub it on your silver. If you find this action slow, you can place the silver items in a bowl and cover them in ketchup. Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. Again, rub it with the soft cleaning cloth and rinse it clean. Then dry it and store it away.
Cleaning your silver with mayonnaise
Mayonnaise also works well as a silver polisher. The lemon and vinegar in the mayonnaise removes the dark coating from silver. Pour the mayonnaise into a bowl and place your silver in it. Leave it to soak up the mayonnaise for 15 minutes. Take it out and polish it with a soft cloth. Rinse it with water and dry it.
Polishing silver with window cleaner
It is another unlikely cleaning agent for silver, but you can clean your silver with a regular window cleaner. Spray it on a toothbrush or sponge and lightly scrub your silver into its former glossy state.
Cleaning silver with beer
For this method, you need a cup of beer, a pot or bowl, cleaning cloth and your silver. Pour the beer into the pot and drop in your silver objects. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then take it out and rub it with the cleaning cloth before rinsing it in water and drying it.
How to clean silver with spirits
Instead of beer, you can also use spirits like vodka to clean your silver. Pour vodka (enough to soak your silver in) in a pot or bowl and drop your silver in. Let t soak for about 5 minutes. Take out the silver and rub it with a cloth. Rinse it with water and dry it.
Cleaning silver with ash from fireplace or wood
Another unusual method to clean silver with, which really works, is ash from wood. If you have a fireplace that is still functional, take a small amount of ash from it (you can also burn a small piece of wood to produce ash). Use a soft cloth or cotton ball and pour lemon juice on it. Then dip it in the ash and start rubbing your silver clean. Once your silver is tarnish free, rinse it and dry it.
Polish your silver with banana peels
You can also polish your tarnished silver with banana peels. This method works best on silver that is not heavily tarnished. Place your banana peels in a blender. Add in a small amount of water to form a paste. Dip a soft cloth into your paste and polish your silver with it. Rinse it and dry it!
How to prevent your silver from tarnishing
As silver tarnishes due to contact with moisture and sulphuric gases in the air, it is important to limit contact with moisture and exposure to air.
- Rub hair conditioner on your silver object using a soft cloth. It prevents tarnishing.
- Place it in a box or a storage space, where you can close it tightly and add chalk. The chalk takes in the moisture in the air and prevents it from reaching your silver.
- Do not spray perfume on yourself while wearing silver jewellery, it can stick to your silver and act as an absorbent for sulphuric gases.
- Use an anti-tarnish bag and store it in an air-tight space.
- Keep your silver away from rubber. Rubber tarnishes silver.
In the most stubborn cases of tarnishing and discolouration, eMop can send its domestic cleaners to return your silver into its original glossy state. Our cleaners, or eMoppers as we like to call them, are available 24/7, so you can choose the hour that suits you.
For your brass items, you might find our how to clean brass guide useful.
We also suggest reading our helpful guide on how to clean your house like a professional.