Silver jewelry is a great accessory to wear and an easy way to add sparkle to your outfit. But, it can be hard to keep silver jewelry pieces looking their best because they are so delicate.
After wear and tear, silver pieces can start to lose their brightness or even develop a green tint. Silver tarnishes.
Unfortunately, if you use the wrong methods for cleaning them, it could ruin your jewelry forever! It is a good idea to speak with a trusted jeweler before cleaning silver with the DIY methods in this article, especially if you are working with jewelry containing precious stones or diamonds.
But, if you have some inexpensive silver jewelry or costume jewelry that needs brightening, I have some solutions for you!
So what is the best way to clean silver? Here are some great tips and techniques to help you learn how to clean silver at home for a fraction of the cost of professional cleaning or commercial cleaning products.
Try Baking Soda for Heavier Tarnish
One thing that you can try to remove heavy tarnish is baking soda. Baking soda has a fine abrasive quality, and it's also super absorbent, which makes it perfect for removing dirt, grime and even tarnish from your silver items.
Here's how to clean sterling silver jewelry using baking soda:
- Mix equal parts of baking soda and hot water in a small bowl or container lined with aluminum foil with shiny side up.
- Soak the silver pieces for 1 to 3 minutes. This step allows a chemical reaction that removes the tarnish from the jewelry pieces.
- After soaking for a few minutes, rinse the pieces under cold water and rub dry with a soft microfiber cloth or paper towel.
Use Lemon Juice and Salt for Stubborn Stains
Another easy way to stop the tarnishing process and restore the sheen of tarnished silver is to use a bath of lemon juice and salt.
- Mix one part of freshly squeezed lemon juice with three parts of boiling water.
- Place your piece of jewelry into the bath for no more than five minutes.
- Remove the jewelry from the solution (kitchen tongs work well for this) and rub it using a silver cleaning cloth.
Note: When using this cleaning solution, it's crucial to use a special silver cleaning cloth because a regular cleaning cloth won't eliminate the tarnish effectively.
Laundry Detergent for Dirt and Gunk
Laundry detergent is one of the best cleaning products for silver jewelry. While this cleaning solution won't do much in restoring luster, it's an effective way to get rid of dirt and gunk. Furthermore, it lifts the darkness and brown stains that appear on some pieces of jewelry.
Note: Using laundry detergent is an excellent option for silver rings, bracelets and necklaces with gemstones because you can use them in the solution without damaging these stones. However, before applying, test out on an inconspicuous area first to check that there isn't any color loss.
Here's how to use this jewelry cleaner:
- Pour a small amount of powdered laundry detergent into a bowl of hot water.
- Place the silver jewelry inside and leave for ~5 minutes.
- Remove and rub with a soft cloth.
Try White Vinegar for Minimal Stains
If you have silver jewelry that has minimal stains and needs a little cleaning, white vinegar is a great way to accomplish this!
Soak the silver pieces in some white vinegar to break down any dirt.
After soaking for about 15 minutes, remove and wipe off with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush in circular motions before rinsing well under running cold, clean water. Make sure you dry and polish your silver jewelry with a polishing cloth to prevent further staining.
Use Beer to Lift the Shade
If your sterling silver pieces have started looking a little yellowish and tarnished, it can be a sign of age.
If you want to give your silver jewelry piece the shine back, use beer! Yes, that's right - beer is known for its ability to strip dirt from jewelry, so why not use this same cleaning approach on your old-looking pieces?
Pour a cup of beer into a small bowl and soak the jewelry in there for 5-10 minutes. Remove and rub clean with a dry cleaning cloth.
Try Window Cleaner to Restore Shine
You can restore dull and tarnished silver to its former glory with a bit of window cleaner. This is one of the best ways to restore luster after cleaning your pieces. You see, while the cleaner restores shine, it's not as effective in removing tarnish. Therefore, it's best to use this cleaner after using a more effective cleaning product.
To restore the shine of your piece:
- Mix ½ cup of lukewarm water and about an ounce or two (30 ml) of any household glass cleaner into a small bowl.
- Next, drop in your sterling silver jewelry pieces for about five minutes before removing them from the solution.
- Use a clean, lint-free cloth to dry and clean your silver pieces.
- Lastly, be sure to use a polishing cloth on the pieces before storing them away.
Use Ketchup if You Don't Mind Messes
For days when you don't have any household cleaners, you might want to try a tactic that works on dirty stainless steel kitchen sinks. Just make sure your silver pieces aren't made of sterling silver, or else the ketchup will cause tarnish!
- Put a small amount of ketchup in a bowl.
- Dip a soft-bristled brush into the ketchup and rub the jewelry pieces gently in slow circular motions.
- Rinse the pieces clean with water until all of the ketchup is removed.
- Finally, dry and polish the silver as you usually would to make sure it's sparkling!
This method can work on tarnished silver jewelry that doesn't have stones.
Be careful about using ketchup if your jewelry contains any stone because the ingredients in ketchup may cause damage to it!
You don't have to spend an arm and a leg on expensive cleaners to keep your jewelry looking great. As you can see, you can use simple household items and a simple cleaning process to make your silver sparkle back to its original shine!
However, before you use any of these methods, be sure to test the cleaning method on a small area of your silver. Some metals are more sensitive than others!
Don't forget that you can always protect your jewelry by adding a tarnish-resistant coating over it before storing it away for long periods or wearing it regularly. Most importantly, if you would rather have your jewelry professionally cleaned, especially for valuable pieces, that's okay too!