Here's How to Polish Silver With Items You Have in Your Pantry

Your beautiful silver pieces shouldn't have to languish at the back of a shelf.

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Removing tarnish from silver tableware, serving pieces, or jewelry might seem like a time-consuming task. The truth is, learning how to polish silver is actually easy once you gather some simple household products. There's no need to buy a fancy silver-cleaning kit. You're all set as long as you have items like dish soap, aluminum foil, and baking soda—however, if you're not into the DIY approach there are plenty of good commercial silver polishes that'll easily do the job. Want to learn the easy way to clean silver―no backbreaking scrubbing required? Watch this video or follow the steps below.

How Often to Polish Silver

Clean your silver once or twice a year, and it will stay in good condition. A little bit of metal is lost each time you polish silver, so try not to over-polish.

What You Need:

How to Polish Silver With Baking Soda and Water

Step 1: Wash Silver in Soapy Water

  • Lay your silver pieces on a clean cotton cloth.
  • Wash each silver item with mild dish soap and warm water.
  • Focus on one area at a time and dry it immediately with your cloth.
  • Avoid the dishwasher, as the extreme heat can warp items.

Step 2: Place Silver in Pot

Place silver in a pot lined with aluminum foil, ensuring that each silver piece makes contact with the aluminum surface.

Step 3: Make a Simple Solution

In a separate pot, bring a quart of water to a boil; mix in ¼ cup baking soda and a couple of teaspoons of salt. Adding ½ cup of cleaning vinegar to the pot will speed up the cleaning process (but it isn't necessary).

Step 4: Add Solution to Pot

Pour the mixture into the pot with the silver and cover. The solution will cause a chemical reaction that should remove any blackness from the silver. (The aluminum foil is important in this chemical process because aluminum pulls sulfur atoms from the silver.) This could take up to five minutes.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

Remove silver from the pot. (If you're not wearing rubber gloves, you may want to use tongs.) Rinse with clean water, and dry with the soft cloth.

Step 6: Touch Up

Take a good look at each piece and buff off any remaining spots with the cloth. If any piece still looks a little tarnished, finish the job by touching it up with some silver polish.

How to Prevent Tarnish on Silver

Silver tends to tarnish easily, especially if you don't use it often. The issue is environmental sulfur found in water, the air, and many other materials. When sulfur comes in contact with silver, it causes a chemical reaction that leads to a tarnished appearance. Here are tips to prevent tarnish on silver.

Rinse and Dry Immediately

Foods that contain sulfides (like eggs or mayonnaise) can stain the silver. Rinsing your silver right after using it can prevent this. Don't let silver air dry, either; it will get a spotted appearance from water droplets, and prolonged exposure to moisture can quicken the tarnishing process.

Wrap in Tarnish-Resistant Paper

When you put your silver away, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper or unbleached cotton muslin (found at fabric stores). Don't use newspaper or cardboard. These materials absorb excess moisture and prevent tarnish in the long run.

Seal Inside a Bag

Place the silver inside a resealable plastic bag. Add a piece of white chalk, which can absorb excess moisture in the bag. Removing the air from the bag is another method that reduces tarnish accumulation over time.

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