Tuesday Tip: Hacks to Get Silver to Shine Without Chemicals

Tuesday Tip: Hacks to Get Silver to Shine Without Chemicals

By Yehudit Garmaise 

If chemical-laden tarnish remover smells unpleasant and wreaks havoc on your fingers, try using many typical household items to easily clean silver. 

Thankfully, sterling silver pieces only need to be cleaned once or twice a year, and the process doesn’t have to be a pain.

Before cleaning silver, each item should be tested to determine whether they are sterling silver or silver-plated.

Pure silver, a precious metal, is not magnetic, so take a refrigerator magnet to see whether it sticks to an inconspicuous spot on each item so as not to damage the silver or silver plating.

When magnets stick to silver items, those items are likely merely “silver-plated,” which means they are primarily made up of metals other than silver.

For truly silver pieces, the following hacks provide ideas on using everyday items to keep your heirloom pieces looking brand new.

1. Use dish soap to clean silver-plated pieces and routinely care for sterling silver when it is not heavily tarnished.

To use dish soap, mix a few drops of mild dishwashing soap in a bowl or sink filled with warm water, and use a towel to gently wash your silver pieces before rinsing them. Then, buff your pieces dry with a soft cloth.

2. Use baking soda, salt, water, and aluminum foil to remove heavy tarnish and brighten silver. (Do not use this method on engraved silver where the blackened engraving helps the patterns stand out.)

Use aluminum foil to line the entire surface of the sink or a roasting pan. Fill the sink or pan with enough boiling water to cover your pieces. Add 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the water, stirring until bubbles form. Add 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup salt to the water for large silver items and stir. Add silver pieces in such a way that they do not touch each other, and let them soak for up to 30 minutes. Once the water has cooled or 30 minutes have passed, remove the silver items and dry them with a soft cloth.

3. Choose white vinegar for silver that needs more intense cleaning power. 

 Vinegar can be a potent cleanser, however, so as with any new cleaning method, cleaners should test these techniques on small hidden areas before using the ingredient on your entire piece. Line sink or a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon course kosher salt to the aluminum-lined dish. Pour 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into the dish, and the mixture will begin to bubble. Now add enough boiling water to completely submerge the silver. Place silver pieces in a single layer. Soak lightly tarnished pieces for 30 seconds. More tarnished pieces can stay in the water for up to three minutes. Use tongs to remove the silver items and a soft cloth to dry, then buff clean.

4. Use ammonia to brighten your silver’s luster. Simply mix 1 cup of warm water and ½ cup of clear ammonia to soak your silver for 10 minutes. Once you remove the silver from the homemade solution, dry it clean. Window cleaners, which typically have ammonia, can be sprayed onto your silver and then buffed with a non-abrasive, dry cloth.

5. Mix 1 part cornstarch or baking soda with three parts water to create a paste that will reinvigorate your silver.

Using a damp cloth, apply the paste to the tarnished parts of the silver. Then, let the paste dry. Finally, rub off the dried areas using a more abrasive cloth to see your silver glowing.

6. Use ketchup as a paste to provide extra sheen to tarnished silver. 

7. Dip a microfiber cloth in lemon juice, a natural cleaner that removes water spots from silver. 

8. Pour Coke or lemon-lime soda from a can to remove tarnish from small pieces of silver. The acid from the soda can clean, but it also can be damaging. Only allow the soda to touch your pieces for a few minutes. 

9. Dab a bit of toothpaste on your silver. First, dilute toothpaste with a little water, and use a toothbrush to polish the silver before rinsing.

10. Hand sanitizer can clean more than your skin, but also can be used to remove dirt, grime, and tarnish from silver. Squeeze a few drops on a dry cloth and polish. 

11. Rub some hair conditioner on your silver as a preventative layer before storing silver in an anti-tarnish bag made from a tarnish-resistant silversmith's cloth.

12. A few pieces of chalk stashed in the spaces in which silver is stored can help to prevent excessive tarnishing

While many household products can keep your silver looking great, never use harsh abrasive products like chlorine bleach on your pieces. Rubber bands around sterling silverware and wrapping pieces with newspaper are other no-nos that can damage your pieces. Other products that can be hazardous to silver are mayonnaise, mustard, and onions.

Luckily, you only need to clean silver items a few times each year, though more often if the item is displayed in the open, where it will tarnish faster.

While silver looks pretty on display, silver pieces tarnish faster when exposed to light, dust, and sulfur particles in the air. Provide your delicate pieces with some space to “breathe” so they won’t damage each other by crashing into each other.  Keep your silver pieces and silverware wrapped in a dry, cool location and in cotton muslin bags or cloths in velvet-lined drawers or cabinets, if possible, between Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Part of F Train Line Suspended After Person Struck by Train
  • Feb 20 2024
  • |
  • 5:23 PM

All MTA Stations Will Have LED Bulbs by 2026
  • Feb 20 2024
  • |
  • 3:32 PM

Be in the know

receive BoroPark24’s news & updates on whatsapp

 Start Now