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Polishing Silver: The Easy Way

Updated on November 10, 2012
That Grrl profile image

Laura likes retro, vintage, old things. Choosing to preserve or repurpose is her dilemma - can't change your mind once started.

Tea Service Presented to John Leeming, 1851.
Tea Service Presented to John Leeming, 1851. | Source
Tea Service Presented to John Leeming, 1851.
Tea Service Presented to John Leeming, 1851. | Source

Silver Polishing Made Easy

Polishing silver is easier than you might thing. You don't need to buy silver polish or rub and rub and rub. Baking soda, boiling water and aluminium foil will get the job done.

Use a deep pan, deep enough for all the silver you want to polish to fit in the pan and be covered by water. Don't overload the pan. Too much silver to be cleaned at once will give you little result.

Cover the pan with silver foil (aluminium foil). You need the silver, shiny side facing out. In the bottom of the pan pour baking soda. I have even used older baking soda which had been open in the fridge for awhile. I used more of it but I was going to throw out the whole box so this was another way to recycle it and give it one more use.

You need at least two tablespoons of baking soda. More for a bigger pan or a larger load of silver. Don't worry about using too much baking soda - but make sure you spread it around over the whole bottom.

Boil water - you need enough to cover all the silver you want to clean. Load the silver into the pan. Let it make contact with the baking soda and the silver foil. If your pan looks cluttered, hold back and split it into two lots. It's worth only cleaning just a few at a time and having to do it over again rather than trying to get it all done at once.

The cleaning really happens in that first second when contact occurs as you pour in the bolling water. Always pour the boiling water in last and have enough to cover all the silver you are cleaning.

Have a cloth handy to dry the silver. Don't wait for the water to cool down. If you give it a wipe off you won't get spots from leaving the water to dry itself. The work is really done in the first minute. Rinse the silver in clean water to make sure all the baking soda is washed off.

If you did not get GREAT results try it again with just one piece of silver and a fresh package of baking soda or use more baking soda and make sure your water is still boiling when you pour it over. Or, I have had better results using a thicker silver foil paper versus the cheap, thin stuff you can buy in the dollar stores.

Always cover your pan with the aluminium foil This will save you from having to clean it afterwards. The tarnish will be on the foil which you can throw away.

Last note, there is a smell from this process. It will smell strongly of sulfur. Open a window or run a fan if you are sensitive to it.


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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      It is fine for any silver. I didn't add photos when I wrote the post. I'm going to take them next time I polish the silver, then I can show the process rather than just writing about it.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

      This is very interesting! I can't wait to give it a try.. thank you for sharing this very useful tip! I'm assuming this process is OK for silver jewelry as well... I don't have many silver pieces like for decoration but I do have some silver chains and things like that. Voting up, interesting & useful!

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I forget when I found this way to polish silver. I know I spent a lot of time with the silver polish rubbing and rubbing in the old way, when I was a kid. We have a lot of silver which was passed on from Grandparents, and their siblings. I still don't keep it as well taken care of as I should.

      I do think people lost interest in silver now that we can have stainless steel which is also nice and shiny and doesn't need the extra labour of polishing off the tarnish. I see some really lovely silver pieces and sets in the thrift stores. But, I don't take them home. I have enough silver to look after. :)

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Dear Laura - I am in shock no one else has commented and rated way up on this post. What a fantastic easy way to spruce up the old silver. I'm going to have to give it a try. Do you think most people are getting rid of silver and it is not in favor anymore due to the laborious need to keep it in good condition? Where did you learn this trick? I'm following you! Hugs, Debby