Tips for Cleaning Silver Jewelry


When cleaned properly, silver is one of the brightest and shiniest of metals. When it’s dull, well, it’s tarnished! Don’t worry though, there are ways to get back that old luster you thought you’d lost.

The black tarnish is called silver sulfide. It’s caused by the silver coming into contact with hydrogen sulfide gas. These sulfur compounds are naturally present in the air we breath, so unless your jewelry is in outer space, it’s going to eventually need polishing.

It’s interesting to note that your silver will tarnish faster if exposed to certain sulfur containing items, such as burning coal or oil, and in sulfur containing food like eggs, onions, fish and shellfish. If you live in an area with a lot of air pollution, your silver will tarnish faster too.

Mrs. Clean is here to share some of the best methods for how to clean silver jewelry and get it sparkling again.

Before You Start – Beware of Gemstones:

These tips will help you clean your silver jewelry but aren’t necessarily appropriate for all gemstones. Some stones, like turquoise, are quite porous and can absorb cleaners and deteriorate. Depending on the type and quality of your stone, it may be worth it to have gemstones professionally cleaned.

The Salt and Aluminum Foil Method:

There are many ways to clean silver jewelry that don’t require buying expensive cleaners. One of the simplest is the salt and aluminum foil method. To get started, you will need the following:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot water
  • Table salt
  • Cloth
  • Jar or bowl to hold the jewelry and cleaning solution

Begin by lining the jar or bowl with aluminum foil. Add quite a bit of salt to the mixture then pour in the hot water. A small jar would typically take about 1 tablespoon while a larger bowl would require 2 or 3 tablespoons of salt. This isn’t an exact science – just make sure there’s enough salt in there to do its job. Then simply drop the jewelry into the jar or bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Remove the jewelry, rinse it with water and dry it off. You’ll be amazed by how much tarnish can be removed this way.

The Silver Cleaning Paste Method:

Another option is to use silver cleaning paste. Weiman Silver Cream works well to get that tarnish off.

  • Cleaning rag
  • Soft, clean cloth
  • Soft bristled toothbrush
  • Silver cleaning paste

Take your cleaning rag, dip it in the cleaning paste and apply it to your silver jewelry. Take the toothbrush and brush in a straight line motion over the silver. Avoid rubbing in circles, as this can make the cleaner’s abrasive powers go overboard and actually damage the surface of your silver jewelry. Once it’s fully brushed, rinse with clean water. You must be diligent in removing all of the paste, as it can otherwise dry and become very difficult to remove. Buff with a clean cloth and you’ll have jewelry looking as good as new.

The Silver Cleaning Dip Method:

Some silver cleaners come in the form of a liquid dip. Silversmiths wash is best. They will typically have a basket type unit in them to place your jewelry in which makes removal easy just by lifting the basket up and taking your jewelry out. Follow the instructions for how long to leave the jewelry in the dip. Once you pull it out, use the cleaning brush supplied to get in the crevices, rinse with clean, warm water and buff to a shine.

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