All silver gets tarnished at some point. The good news is that you can clean it without spending a dime! Here are nine household items that can be used to clean silver. You probably have at least a couple already in your kitchen!
1. Baking SodaBaking soda (not baking powder) is a great dual-purpose silver cleaner. You can mix a few tablespoons into a container of water for a gentle wash, or you can use just enough water to make a paste that will polish your silver. If you’re using baking soda as a polish, you should apply it to the entire silver piece and massage it gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush or damp washcloth. Rinse and dry with a towel afterwards.
2. ToothpasteYou can use toothpaste to clean silver, and cheaper is actually better! Look for a plain white paste-type, rather than a gel or a whitening formula. Also make sure you don’t use toothpaste that has silica in it, because that can scratch your silver.
3. MilkSome experts recommend soaking your silver jewelry in a mixture of equal parts milk and vinegar. I’ve found pure vinegar to be more effective, but your experience may be different.
4. AmmoniaAmmonia is a great silver cleaner, if you can tolerate the smell. Add 1 part ammonia to 2 parts water and soak the silver for 5-10 minutes. When you’re done, just take the silver out and dry it. Ammonia can destroy pearls and other additions, so it’s probably best to use it on jewelry that’s just silver.
5. VinegarVinegar is a gentle acid, so it will clean your silver without damaging pearls or precious stones. You can actually soak sterling silver in undiluted vinegar (white vinegar seems to be best) for up to three hours. Afterwards, rinse the silver and dry it.
6. KetchupThe tomatoes and vinegar in ketchup are both acidic, and the paste-like consistency of ketchup makes it easy to apply to silver pieces. Obviously, you’ll want to rinse your jewelry with plain water after you’ve gotten all the tarnish off! You don’t want your skin to smell like a hamburger, right?
7. ToothbrushYou can use a soft-bristle toothbrush to scrub tarnish off your silver pieces. Be careful not to use it on anything that is silver plated or less than 92.5% (sterling) silver, as it may cause scratches. For high quality silver, however, it can be a great cleaning tool. It’s probably better to use a new, unused toothbrush.
8. Lemon juiceThe acid in lemon juice makes it a great silver cleaner. You can soak your silver jewelry for a few hours or a few days, depending on the amount of oxidation. Check on your jewelry every few hours so you can remove it from the lemon juice bath as soon as the tarnishing is gone. Rinse and dry the silver.
9. Aluminum FoilIf all else fails, aluminum foil can handle duty tarnishing. Line a glass baking pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up, and place your silver pieces on top of it. Mix one cup of baking soda into one gallon of boiling water, stir, and then pour over the silver and aluminum. Your silver jewelry should come completely clean within 5 minutes! Rinse with cold water and dry.
Regardless of what method you use, be careful not to hurt yourself or your silver. Also, if you wear gloves when cleaning your silver, be sure they are nitrile. Rubber can corrode silver, so gloves made out of latex are a bad idea in this situation. Always dry your silver after rinsing it, since wet silver tarnishes more easily. Enjoy your shiny “new” silver!
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How to use the toothpaste when cleaning?
Use a soft moisten cloth to clean the softer silvers or delicate jewelry gently. Make the silver wet then add a little of toothpaste. Don’t forget that a little goes a long way. Rub it lightly with the moistened fabric until it is polished.
Add a little more toothpaste if the fabric turns dark with tarnish and continue rubbing. Wash the dark toothpaste foam from your silver necklace, then rinse the cloth and start all over again.
Get a toothbrush and slowly scrub the silver jewelry for the stubborn tarnish or parts that are hard to reach. You can use an old worn toothbrush or merely buy a soft-bristled toothbrush or baby toothbrush to prevent scratching.
Rinse off the polished silver necklace or whatever jewelry it is in warm water then dry with a soft towel.
Remember toothpaste is not just useful for silver jewelry, you can use it to clean the other more significant silver material in your house.
However, although toothpaste might be the most economical and the best for cleaning silver jewelry, it can also be rough and may end up scratching silver items that are more delicate. It is advisable always to test your toothpaste on a small area first, to determine if you’re going to clean your piece of silver jewelry with toothpaste or another product.