Home Remedies for Cleaning Silver

0 17340

Silver is a metallic chemical element often used to make jewelry and silverware. However, its elemental compound makes it susceptible to the black or brown streaks or patches known as tarnish. Appearances become flawed and you’re left looking for a way to hide the discoloration. You don’t always have to rely on polish. When your flatware and jewelry start to tarnish, consider using home remedies for cleaning silver.

Why Does Silver Tarnish?

Tarnish develops when silver interacts with sulfur in the air. The result is silver sulfide, which appears as streaks or patches in shades of dark black, blue, purple, and brown. Silver also reacts poorly when it comes in contact with rubber bands, latex gloves, ammonia, chlorinated water, air pollution, perfumes, and hair sprays. Certain foods also affect the appearance of silver, such as mayonnaise, onions, salad dressing, eggs, and salt. Humid conditions can cause silver to tarnish. Oils from your hands and fingers can also discolor silver.

Silver Cleaning Home Remedies

If you don’t regularly polish your silver possessions, they become increasingly vulnerable to the conditions that cause tarnish. It’s in your best interest to prevent and treat discolored silver because when belongings are tarnished, they leave behind a mark – even on your skin and clothes. For home remedies for cleaning silver, consider the following suggestions:

a) Aluminum Foil [1]:

To liven up dull silver, polishing with aluminum foil creates a molecular reaction called an ion exchange. The foil acts as a catalyst. Line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with cold water. Add two teaspoons of salt. Drop tarnished silverware into the solution. Leave in for two to three minutes, rinse off, and then dry.

b) Cornstarch:

Mix enough water and cornstarch to create a paste to add sparkle to your good silverware. Apply this remedy with a damp cloth. Allow it to dry, and then rub off with a soft cloth.

c) Ketchup [2]:

To add shine to tarnished silver jewelry, place items in a small bowl filled with ketchup for a couple of minutes. This remedy will work on rings, bracelets, and earrings with a smooth surface. For jewelry with a detailed surface, work the ketchup into crevices using an old toothbrush. Keep in mind that leaving silver in the ketchup for too long can be damaging.

d) Milk:

Sour milk has the power to rejuvenate tarnished silverware. Soak your silver in the milk for 30 minutes to loosen the tarnish. Wash away with warm, soapy water. Follow up with a buff of a soft cloth. Don’t have any sour milk on hand? Add a bit of vinegar to fresh milk.

e) Ammonia:

Add shine to tarnished silver by gently scrubbing items with a soft brush dipped in a small amount of ammonia. Wipe off excess liquid with a soft cloth.

f) Banana:

As odd as it may seem, using the inside of a banana peel can shine up tarnished silverware. Before using, remove any of the stringy material from the inside of the peel. Rub the inside part on your silverware, and then buff with a paper towel or soft cloth.

g) Toothpaste:

With a soft clean cloth, apply white toothpaste to tarnished silver. Coat an object and allow to dry, which only takes a few minutes. Rinse the silver off with warm running water. Buff to shine using a dry cloth. Do not use gel toothpaste or you run the risk of damaging your silver.

h) Potatoes:

When you run out of silver polish, boil a bunch of potatoes. Place your silverware in the remaining water, and leave for one hour. After you remove the silverware from the water and wash, the tarnish should have disappeared.

i) Vinegar:

Shine your silver bracelets, rings and other trinkets by soaking in a mixture consisting of ½ cup white vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda. Leave for two to three hours. Rinse under cold water, and then completely dry with a soft cloth.

j) Chalk:

To prevent tarnish on fine silver, place one to two pieces of chalk in the drawer with your good silver. The chalk will absorb moisture and slow the tarnishing process. You can also use this remedy in your jewelry box.

k) Cotton Gloves:

When cleaning your silver objects, wear cotton gloves to avoid transferring the oils and acids associated with the hands.

l) Storage Care:

When storing or displaying silver objects, avoid placing close to items that contain sulfur, such as horn and tortoiseshell.

m) Silica Gel Packs:

Save those silica gel packets found in new purses and shoes for a rainy day. Add a few to where you store your silver jewelry to control humidity levels.

n) Avoid Eating Eggs:

To protect real silverware from tarnish, do not eat eggs (which are rich in sulfides). This food has a reputation for tarnishing silver beyond repair [3].


[1] http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/tarnish.html
[2] Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things; pg. 193.
[3] http://www.blitzinc.net/category/info.how_why_silver_tarnishes/