How to clean silver at home

When you’re cleaning, it can be all too easy to forget silver items such as special-occasion cutlery, ornaments and heirloom jewellery. Cleaning the family silver might not be at the top of your to-do list, it’ll no doubt come in handy when you want to impress. 

In this guide, we’ll give you tips on how to clean and polish silver and prevent tarnishing from happening in the first place. 

How to clean silver 

A little elbow grease and a few handy supplies are all you need to make your silver look brand new again. 

Using specialised silver cleaners 

Products like Silvo clean and restore tarnished metals. They usually come in powders, sprays, liquids and creams, and are available at supermarkets and DIY shops. 

These types of products are mild abrasives, which means you’ll need to work them into the silver with soft cloths or pads to remove tarnish. To protect yourself and your silver, it’s recommended that you:  

  • Use protective gloves if you have sensitive skin or during longer cleaning sessions 
  • Wear a face mask or open a window 
  • Fully rinse residue from cutlery, pans and other items used for food 

Of course, every product will have different instructions and safety warnings. 

Traditional alternatives 

Did you know that the bicarbonate soda you use for baking can also help you clean your silver? Here’s an easy three-step process to cleaning silver the natural way. 

Step 1: Gather your materials 

Grab a large washing up bowl or plastic container that’s big enough to submerge the silver you’re cleaning. You’ll also need bicarbonate soda, boiling water and aluminium foil. Make sure to use a work surface or area that you don’t mind splashing cleaning solutions or water on. 

Step 2: Prepare the cleaning solution 

Use the aluminium foil to line your washing up bowl. Next, fill the container with enough boiling water to fully cover the items you’re cleaning. Add about two tablespoons of bicarbonate soda for every litre of water.  

Step 3: Start cleaning your silver 

Finally, add your silver items into the bowl. To remove tarnish, make sure that the silver touches the aluminium. At this point, don’t worry if your cleaning solution starts to look like a jacuzzi – this means it’s working! Your silver should start to look more brilliant as the tarnish begins to lift away. 

Remove the silver with tongs after a few minutes to check its progress. Take care as the silver will be very hot. You may need to give your silver a few extra dips if it’s very tarnished. If you’re happy with the results, rinse your silver and dry it with a microfibre or lint-free cloth. 

How to clean silver jewellery 

This simple method will have your jewellery sparkling in no time. 

  1. Mix one part water with three parts of bicarbonate soda to create a paste.  
  2. Apply the paste to your jewellery with a microfibre cloth and rub it until it’s shiny. You can even use an old toothbrush to clean necklace clasps and other tricky bits. 
  3. Finally, rinse the paste off with water. Then use a clean lint-free cloth to give it a final buff for extra shine. 

Please note, cleaning products may damage pearls and stones. We recommended that you consult a specialist jewellery expert before tackling them at home. 

How to prevent tarnishing  

Humidity, salty seaside air, sweat and makeup can all tarnish sterling silver jewellery. And no matter how much you aim to keep them clean, they will naturally tarnish over time.  

To prevent tarnishing from happening, its recommended that you remove silver jewellery before the following activities: 

  • Cooking, serving or preparing meals 
  • Doing household and outdoor chores such as gardening or washing up 
  • Exercising, hot yoga, sports or other activities where you’re likely to sweat more than usual 
  • Swimming in pools or the ocean 
  • Relaxing in a hot tub, natural hot spring or the sauna 
  • Daily baths and/or showers 

It can be tricky to get in the habit of removing your jewellery. But remember that everyday cosmetics such as makeup, body creams and fragrances can all cause silver to tarnish more frequently. 

Tips for storing and cleaning silver 

  • Don’t put silver cutlery or utensils in the dishwasher 
  • Excessive polishing can wear down the finish on silver-plated items 
  • Always consult an expert when cleaning valuable silver or family heirlooms
  • Specialised anti-tarnish silver storage bags can help cutlery shine in-between uses