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How to easily clean tarnished silver jewelry with pantry items!

Updated on April 23, 2016

All about Silver...

What is Silver

Silver is one of the precious metals that is used commonly in everyday life. Silver is often used in currency coins, to make jewellery, tableware and utensils, ornaments, as well as in industrial electrical contacts and conductors. Silver is often produced as a by-product of gold, copper, lead and zinc refining. Jewellery and silverware are traditionally made from 92.5% Silver and 7.5% copper which essentially is sterling or standard silver.

Why does silver tarnish

Tarnish is a natural process and occurs to everything that is made of silver, some more prone than others. Silver as above is made from a mix of both silver and copper and when the silver is exposed to natural sulphur in the air, the copper inside reacts and in turn causes tarnishing. You will know your jewellery has been affected if you notice your jewellery becoming dull, turning yellow or grey. If you don't get to cleaning it after these early stages it will turn black which is always harder to clean, well at least it was until you try the below method...still its not ideal to let your jewellery get to that black stage.

Ways to prevent silver jewellery tarnishing in the future

Silver is a metal that is prone to tarnishing as soon as its exposed to air....obviously keeping it in an airtight container is not practical so here are some other tips you can use to hopefully stop this from happening....

  • Add some chalk to your silver draw (this works by drawing the moisture away from the silver pieces which means the silver takes longer to tarnish) (change every few months)
  • Use silica gel packs (you know the ones that come with the new pair of shoes you purchased (again aids in keeping moisture away)
  • Wrapping silver in anti-tarnish cloth or strip (not always readably available)
  • Do not wear jewellery whilst cleaning, taking a shower or swimming as things such as ammonia, bleach and chlorine could cause tarnishing.
  • After wearing jewellery wipe and clean with a jewellery cleaning cloth so as to remove body oils, perfumes, dirts and oils.

My Story

I have quite a lot of silver jewellery both real and costume which turned black and as you can see from the photos you can see I mean black, it was horrible. As soon as you picked it up you could feel the nasty residue left on your hands as well as this odd metallic smell. I was very concerned as I had no idea what to do, was there any saving of my beloved bling? After trying to clean it (unsuccessfully) with a jewellery cleaning cloth, as well as trying some other remedies googled on the internet, I spoke to a friend who advised I use baking soda, salt and alumimum and guess what....within minutes, what I thought was ruined was beautiful and good as new Jewellery - Hallelujah

The 3 key ingredients - Salt, Bi-Carb and Aluminium Foil...
The 3 key ingredients - Salt, Bi-Carb and Aluminium Foil...

What you will need....

  • 1 tbsp Baking or Bi-Carb Soda
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 Small Aluminium Pie Tin (disposable) or a bowl wrapped in Aluminium Foil
  • Enough Hot water to fill bowl
  • 1 Metal Spoon
  • 1 Bowl, filled with cool water to rinse jewellery
  • 1 Soft Cleaning Cloth
tarnished and unwearable...
tarnished and unwearable...
waiting for the magic to happen...
waiting for the magic to happen...
coming out shiny and like new...
coming out shiny and like new...

What you will do...

  1. First gather all your tarnished silver jewellery. Sterling silver, plated if you have it grab it....be careful, however of any with precious stones etc (I am not sure this method is safe for things like that). Also this method works much better on sterling silver and almost immediately - fake or plated jewellery will possibly take a few soakings and a bit of rubbing with the soft cloth to bring back to life.
  2. Grab your disposable small pie dish (or bowl wrapped in foil) and add to it both the baking soda and salt. Top up the bowl (enough to be able to submerge jewellery completely) with hot water and stir mixture together till powders disolved.
  3. Add your jewellery (enough so it can sit separately in the bowl - you may have to do a few batches) to the solution and let sit for 3-4 minutes. You can usually use the same solution a couple of times, but judge this from the colour the water turns if its still quite clear pop in another load if its turned murky get a fresh batch.
  4. Check the jewellery often, by using your spoon to see if the tarnish is coming off, you may have to leave it in for a bit longer (up to 10mins), but don't worry about moving items around. Again fake or plated jewellery may need a few go's to work effectively.
  5. Once the jewellery is tarnish free or mostly tarnish free remove from the mixture and pop into the bowl of water to rinse then dry jewellery with a soft cloth (discard solution). If there is still some tarnish which is more likely on the fake silver then pop back in for a few more minutes.
  6. You may need to use a few different bowls and make new solutions for each couple of batches just to ensure a really nice clean.
All clean, shiny and tarnish free....the way it should be :)
All clean, shiny and tarnish free....the way it should be :)

What has happened?

The salt and baking soda when added to the aluminium bowls causes a chemical reaction which is called oxidation - this is what removes the tarnish and restores the lost shine to your sliver jewellery. You will also notice an odd smell and some light fumes will emit from the solution so don't stand to close to the bowl while its working its magic.....!


GOOD LUCK!

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    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      This is a great hub! Thanks for sharing your knowledge ,

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Thank you i'm glad you have found it useful :)

    • rainsanmartin profile image

      Rain San Martin 2 years ago from Fort Wayne

      I have many nice pieces of silver fantasy jewelry that I have intended to clean for years. This Hub makes it look extremely easy and I anticipate the results. Old will be new.

    • Robin Marie profile image

      Robin 2 years ago from USA

      I'm glad I saw this. I've been neglecting mine for too long. Will try your recipe.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 2 years ago from United States

      You give simple instructions that make it easy to understand. I will have to try this on my jewelry. I wonder if this can work for other silver too?

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Yes it worked really well for mine, I hope you have the same great results :)

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      All the best with it, it's definitely a good easy recipe to know and has definitely worked well for me :)

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      I'm glad you found this hub helpful, I have tried it on silver plated jewelry and it does work however not quite as fast and takes a bit more elbow grease! I don't see why it wouldn't work on other silver items though? Goodluck if you give it a try :)

    • profile image

      bob c 2 years ago

      Don't use lye in the aluminum dish in place of baking soda.

      The fumes generate highly explosive hydrogen gas.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Very helpful information! I have some pieces I need to try it on. Thanks, and congratulations on your HOTD honors!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I love silver and have a lot of it. Some tarnishes easily, some doesn't; I presume that's got something to do with the quality. I use silver cleaning solution and this mostly works but I'm going to try your method next time I need to clean them.

      Thanks for sharing this. Very useful article.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      I always love finding all natural ways to clean! This looks so easy. Thanks for sharing the tips! Well-deserved Hub of the Day!

    • Room of My Own profile image

      Sadie Holloway 2 years ago

      Thank you for this hub! I love that this is an eco-friendly solution rather than a harsh chemical polish. I answered 'gold' in your poll because I have always found silver jewellry to be too fussy. Now that I know how to polish it with ease, maybe I'll start wearing it more! Thanks!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      Great content here! Thanks for writing this hub.

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for your comment bob c, I have never used lye before and will definitely not use it for this method either after your valuable information!

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Thanks SusanDeppner - I'm glad you found the information useful, I'm very pleased to have HOTD I never thought it would happen for me :)

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Thanks annart - I also used silver cleaning solution which works well but I have found this method is a bit quicker and a cheaper option :) all the best with your cleaning!

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Thanks heidithorne for your comment I'm very grateful with being HOTD :)

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Glad to offer some useful information roomofmyown I also used to prefer gold, but knowing how to care for silver jewelry definitely makes it easier to add beautiful silver accessories to your wardrobe :)

    • retromellie profile image
      Author

      retromellie 2 years ago from Australia

      Thank you dealforaliving glad you enjoyed reading :)

    • profile image

      Lynn sw 9 months ago

      How to get rid of dark spots on face .

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