How to Clean and Polish Sterling Silver Jewelry at Home

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Properly maintained sterling silver jewelry and silverware will provide several generations with enjoyment.

However, an enemy called tarnish might spoil this.

While there are alternatives such as white gold or titanium, silver has a unique shine.

It is just unavoidable; all silver will tarnish especially when they are exposed to light and air.

There is no escape from these two.

Moreover, chemical agents such as perfumes and deodorant and room sprays all quickens the tarnish of silver jewelry, silverware and other silver items.

So the trick is in the knowledge of how to clean and polish silver.

Luckily, it can be quite easy.

One particular chemical substance leading to tarnish is sulfur.

When silver comes into contact with sulfur compounds, most of which are found in air such as hydrogen sulfide, it becomes tarnished.



How to keep sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing?

Keep your silver dry

The formation of tarnish is normally accelerated in a humid environment while oily salts can also lead to corrosion, which requires professionals to remove it.

Always do your best to keep your silver away from water. Never wear your silver jewelry during shower or at the beach.
If any of your silverware get in contact with water, dry it as soon as possible to avoid any tarnish.

However, we can’t really avoid tarnishing: we can only postpone and decrease the level it occurs. And we can untarnish silver when it loses its shine.

Now let’s take a deeper look in tarnish!

How does tarnish occurs?

Silver will get oxidized when it is exposed to atmospheric air; the main component of the process is hydrogen sulfide, a gas that is present everywhere but heavily in places where there are extreme air pollution and humidity. Other elements such as felt, wool, food, cut flowers, and fingerprints are also known to cause tarnishing.

While there are numerous ingredients that can be used to untarnish silver, using natural products is not only safe for the environment but also to you and the silver item.

You can resort to make own silver polish from readily available products. However, be warned that extremely fragile items like very thin coated or precious and rare silver pieces will require a professional cleaner.

Otherwise, something wrong might happen during the cleaning process leading to damaging your valuable silver item.


Using toothpaste

Ever thought you would utilize your toothpaste to clean household items?

Perhaps you would dismiss a suggestion that the product that is meant to keep your mouth fresh can do magic on your silverware: keeping away the tarnish.

To succeed in this, you will require a toothpaste which experts describe as having mild cleaning agents and abrasives, which are gentle, these are effective ingredients for polishing your silver.

All that is needed here is rubbing the toothpaste just like you would when using soap.

Use a piece of paper towel to do this. Many who have done this talk of pretty remarkable results.

They also say that tartar control toothpaste works magic since it is rich in hydrated silica. The effectiveness of this method coupled to the fact that this is readily available at home makes this method highly recommended especially when you are dealing with a small amount of silver items.

When you have a bulk of items to get tarnish free, the method can be cumbersome, given that you are supposed to rub a piece of paper towel with toothpaste on every item and in the tarnished areas. Perhaps using other methods would be more suitable.

Boiling waterbath

This method is appropriate for small pieces of silver, which can easily fit in a pot.

The choice of the pot should be aluminum or enamel as other materials could possibly interact with the silver, leading to destruction or worsening of the tarnish.

If you are using enamel as the material of choice, you will have to line the bottom of the pot using aluminum foil.

Put the silver pieces in the bottom and add water to the pot until they are fully covered.

Add a teaspoon of salt and baking soda and leave the water to boil for at least three minutes.

Cool the water and then put the silver pieces in warm, soapy water.

Scrub them with a clean cloth and after that polish the pieces dry using a second cloth.


Soaking bath

This method involves lining a glass pan with aluminum foil with the dull side facing down.

The silver pieces are supposed to be placed over the foil, next pour some boiling water on them.

Two tablespoons of baking soda are subsequently added and then allow the silver to soak for a few minutes or until the water cools enough for one to touch.

The pieces should afterwards be dried using a clean piece of cloth.

While dealing with excessively tarnished silver

You may be dealing with highly tarnished silver, and one treatment may not give you the desired results, therefore, more than one treatment will be required.

You will need to soak the silver pieces in boiling water then add salt and baking soda finally drying the silver using a piece of cloth.

Once you have dried, the second treatment will be required, this time around you can apply toothpaste and afterwards scrub using a clean piece of cloth before drying the silver.


What is the concern with the commercial products?

It is not exactly about untarnishing your silver; it is important that you protect yourself and the environment too.

If you find that the chemical agent, you are using to clean the pieces, has words such as caution, danger or warning, know that it may pose some risks to your health or environment not forgetting the long-term effects on your silver pieces.

You will need to heed these warnings, and wear protective gear while cleaning and when through with the process dispose of them accordingly.

Never double down blindly on a method or specific cleaning product without securing your health, the environment and without being completely sure that there won’t be any damage to your silver belongings.

Nevertheless, don’t let this make you live with tarnish! The better you take care of your silver items, the better they will take care of you!

And never forget the best possible way to get rid of tarnish is to do everything to prevent it in the first place!