Silver jewelry is an attractive accent to almost any outfit, but it can attract body oils, cosmetics, germs, soil and other debris that can cause it to tarnish. The good news is that your pieces aren’t destroyed when they tarnish; you can clean them and restore their luster with items commonly found in your pantry and household cleaners.
A simple cleaning solution of warm water, mild dishwashing soap or baby shampoo can remove tarnish and keep your silver looking shiny. A jar of silver polishing cream–the kind used to clean silver dishes and serveware–can also work, but this method works best for pieces with larger surface areas, such as lockets or pendants, rather than chains or delicate pieces. Rinse each piece of jewelry thoroughly after using any type of polish or cleaning solution, and dry it with a soft cloth.
There are a number of homemade silver jewlery cleaner recipes that call for ingredients you may already have in your pantry or refrigerator. Vinegar is one such ingredient that’s safe for silver, and it can easily eliminate tarnish. You can use a distilled white vinegar and baking soda solution, or soak silver jewelry in a glass of water with a couple teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in it. The soaking process will usually take about three hours, and the silver can be rinsed well when it’s done soaking.
Other natural ingredients, such as lemon juice, salt, olive oil, toothpaste and baking soda, can also be used to clean a wide variety of silver items. These recipes should be used with caution, however, because they could be abrasive to some types of silver jewelry and cause scratching or dulling. If you’re concerned about damage, a disposable silver cleaning wipe or other specialized cleaning product may be better for you.
Liquid silver polishes like those made by Good Housekeeping Seal-holder Weiman often contain ingredients that remove tarnish and prevent it from returning as quickly as possible. These polishes come in a variety of formulas, from paste to liquid, and can be applied with a soft cloth or sponge, depending on the product. They are also available in a convenient, ready-to-use package of single-use wipes.
A jar of silver polishing cream–the same kind used to clean silver dishes and serveware–can be used on most types of silver jewelry, but this method works best for pieces with a larger surface area, such as lockets or pendants, instead of chains or delicate pieces. The directions on the jar of polish will typically instruct you to dampen a cloth with the cream and rub it into the silver in small sections, working from the outside edge of the jewelry toward its center. Be sure to rinse and dry the piece of jewelry thoroughly afterward, especially if it’s a chain or other delicate item that can easily get caught in clothing or hair. If your silver is particularly tarnished, hydrogen peroxide or Windex (a brand name of a powerful household window cleaner) can be helpful to clear away the dark tarnish.