Let’s face it: buying and wearing jewelry is all fun, but cleaning this precious metal isn’t a task anyone wants to add to their to-do list. This is especially the case when dealing with silver jewelry that easily tarnishes.
A chemical reaction happens when silver is exposed to air, giving the jewelry a black tarnish. Luckily, your silver items aren’t destroyed – you need to learn how to clean the jewelry to make your silver pieces shine again.
This post will take you through the best silver jewelry cleaning methods. We’ll also go through a few top tips to help you avoid the black tarnish.
Let’s dive right in!
How do I clean a piece of silver jewelry?
Silver jewelry is a soft, lustrous metal, so gentle cleaning is mostly enough. The fastest and easiest method to clean the piece is by using warm water and mild dishwashing soap or baby shampoo.
Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning your silver jewelry using this method:
- Add several drops of liquid dishwashing soap to warm water. Stir the solution until bubbles form
- Leave your silver jewelry soaked in the soapy water for about 5-10 minutes
- Using a soft toothbrush, clean the crevices of your silver piece
- Rinse your jewelry in warm, clean water
- Dry the jewelry using a microfiber cloth. Avoid paper towels as they may scratch your silver jewelry.
While this method should effectively clean most of your silver jewelry, some pieces may require other cleaning methods. For instance, your silver chains, bracelets, and rings need more detailed cleaning methods to give out their best sparkle.
Let’s see how to clean the sterling silver jewelry:
How to clean sterling silver
Sterling silver is an alloy obtained by adding copper to pure silver to make it more durable and less soft. Usually, this type of silver has a purity of 92.5%, with the remaining 7.5% composed of the alloy (copper, zinc, or nickel).
Copper is the main culprit for the tarnish on sterling silver jewelry. It reacts with ozone and hydrogen sulfide in the air, causing the black tarnish.
Hair sprays, perfumes, and sweat can also react with the piece, leading to tarnish. Try dishwashing soap and warm water first to clean your jewelry, and resort to the following methods if it doesn’t work:
Method #1: Baking soda
This is one of the most effective ways to remove the heavy tarnish in your silver jewelry. It leads to a chemical reaction that cleans your silver piece of jewelry within seconds or minutes.
Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning your sterling silver jewelry with baking soda:
- Bring some water to boil – it should be enough water to cover the bowl
- Cover a soup bowl or vessel with an aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing up
- Add one tablespoon of baking soda with water. The ratio for this combination should be one part of the water to two parts of baking soda to obtain a thick paste.
- Place your piece of jewelry in the soda solution, making sure it touches the aluminum foil. Alternatively, you can rub the mixture onto the silver jewelry
- Leave the jewelry to rest in the solution for about 2-5 minutes. Extend this time to up to 10, depending on the tarnish severity.
- Using a pair of kitchen tongs or a spoon, remove your silver jewelry
- Rinse it under cool water and dry it with a clean cloth or a microfiber towel
You can also add one tablespoonful of salt to the baking soda solution for the best results.
Method #2: Vinegar and baking soda
If baking soda alone doesn’t work, you can try adding white vinegar to the mix. The resulting solution has acidic properties, ideal for cleaning black tarnish off your silver jewelry.
Here are step-by-step instructions to clean your silver jewelry using baking soda and white vinegar:
- Mix two tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar in a bowl
- Leave your chain soaked in the mixture for about 2-3 hours
- Remove the jewelry and rinse it with warm water
- Dry and polish your jewelry with a soft cloth
Method #3: Lemon and olive oil
Lemon and olive oil are also very effective in cleaning sterling silver jewelry. Lemons have citric acid, a powerful natural cleansing agent, making it effective in washing the tarnish off silver off your silver jewelry.
Here is how you clean your sterling silver jewelry with lemon and olive oil:
- Mix half a cup of lemon juice and a tablespoon of olive oil
- Dip a clean cloth in the resulting solution and rub your silver jewelry
- Rinse with lukewarm water
- Dry with a soft cloth
Method #4: Toothpaste
Small amounts of diluted toothpaste and soft-bristle burhs can do wonders in cleaning sterling silver jewelry. However, don’t use this method for silver-plated jewelry.
Method #5: Silver polishing cloth
Silver polishing cloths are soft cloths specifically designed to clean silver jewelry. They are infused with chemical cleaners, so you can use them without adding polishing creams or other additional products.
Here is how you use a silver polishing cloth to clean your silver jewelry:
- Clean your silver jewelry using the silver polishing cloth, abiding by the manufacturer’s instructions. Most will require you to scrub back and forth, not in a circular motion.
- The black tarnish will come off onto the cloth as you scrub. Work in small sections for the best results.
Method #6: Ketchup
Yup, you read that right. Ketchup is one of the most effective methods for removing tarnish from your silver items.
To use this method, add several drops of the ketchup on a paper towel and apply them to the surface of the jewelry. If the tarnish is stubborn, leave the ketchup sitting on the area for about 10-15 minutes before rubbing with a polishing cloth.
Then, rinse your jewelry with lukewarm water or a damp cloth, and dry and polish it with a clean cloth.
How to clean silver rings, earrings, bracelets
Fiddly jewelry pieces demand more care, especially if they have pearls or stones. The good news is that there are easy methods to clean these pieces, including silver polishing cloth, cream cleaner, etc.
Alternatively, you can use the simple method below:
- Mix three parts of bicarbonate of soda (paste) with one part of water and apply it to your silver jewelry. Take care to avoid pearls or stones
- Using a microfiber or lint-free cloth, rub the paste into the silver until the shine begins to return. Use a soft toothbrush to get to the intricate areas hard to reach.
- Rinse off the paste with a lint-free cloth to remove the remaining tarnish
How to clean silver chains
Your silver chains can tarnish quickly from contact with perfumes, lotions, perspiration, etc. Luckily, you can clean your silver pieces with several simple methods.
For instance, you can decide to use the QuickShine Jewelry Bath or use the following eco-friendly home remedy:
- Cover a small bowl with aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing up
- Add hot water to the bowl and silver soak your chain
- Add about a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda per half-liter of water
- Leave the chain submerged in the solution for about 30 minutes
- Remove the chain from the bath, rinse with cold water, and dry it with a lint-free cloth
What’s the best silver cleaner?
If you don’t want to use DIY solutions, many solutions, creams, and commercial cleaners can do the job. You can also use the polishing cloth to remove the black tarnish from your silver jewelry.
How do I prevent tarnish on silver jewelry?
The one surefire way to tarnish-free jewelry is prevention. Although preventing your silver jewelry from heat, air, and moisture is almost impossible, you can do a few things to limit exposure.
Here are the best tips to prevent tips on silver jewelry:
Apply lotion before your jewelry
The fragrance-free, water-based lotion with fewer chemicals can act as a protective agent against tarnish. The lotion can also allow you to wear the less-expensive blends of the precious metal that may otherwise trigger an allergic reaction.
Stop bringing your silver jewelry to the bathroom
Moisture associated with bathing, showering, brushing teeth, or any other washing can be responsible for the tarnish on your silver jewelry. So, to protect your silver necklace or other silver jewelry pieces, leave them in another room when you use the bathroom.
Use a sealant spray
Sealant spray is also very effective in preventing tarnish in jewelry pieces of silver. The coating allows your piece to dry thoroughly and creates a barrier between oxygen, water, and your jewelry.
Mind your storage area
Silver jewelry should be appropriately stored in anti-tarnish bags to avoid rust and black tarnish. For instance, this silver storage bag is perfect for silver pieces.
A jewelry box lined with velvet can also avoid tarnish. A velvet pouch can also do the job by absorbing moisture in the air.
The bottom line
Unlike most precious metals, you’ll need to clean silver jewelry once now and then to ensure it’s looking bright and ready for wearing. The good news is that the silver pieces can always be cleaned using the simple methods discussed in this post.