Silver is a soft metal, which is prone to scratches and damages if not handled with care. Because of this, people are often intimidated when it comes to cleaning it themselves. Fortunately, there are several gentle, yet effective, methods one can use in order to get their silver looking shiny and new. Here are five of the top tips on how to clean silver in minutes.
First, determine if it is Sterling Silver, Pure Silver, or Plated Silver
The method which one should use when cleaning tarnished silver items should be based upon the actual composition of that item. Not all silver is exactly alike. Sometimes what one may consider being silver jewelry, is simply comprised of a silver-plated outer layer, with various other metals as filler. In order to ensure one is using the right method, first, check silver jewelry for a mark stating “925”. This mark indicated that the piece is comprised of 92.5 percent silver, meaning that the methods mentioned in this article are great to use. If it is silver plated, it will never have any such marking suggesting otherwise. Silver-plated jewelry can be damaged with these cleaning methods mentioned in the article. For silver-plated jewelry proceed with caution.
1. The Traditional Soap and Water Method
For smaller silver pieces which are not too badly tarnished, a simple soak with hot water and dish soap may just do the trick. This is a great method to use for items like silverware or other small silver trinkets. A mild dish soap that doesn’t contain bleach (or even baby shampoo) can be used. First, fill a basin up with warm water and add a few drops of soap. Place the silver items inside, and let them soak for at least five minutes. More soiled or badly tarnished pieces may require a longer soak for up to twenty minutes. When time is up, gently scrub the pieces with a toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush in order to buff the tarnished areas. In order to avoid damage, be sure not to scrub too hard. Once the pieces are clean, dry them off with a terry cloth or a microfiber towel. Avoid using shop towels or paper towels, as those can cause extensive damage and scratches to silver. Repeat this process as necessary, until desired results are achieved.
2. Lemon and Olive Oil
Lemon juice has long been used around the house as an organic and natural way to clean and sanitize; However, many people don’t realize that it can easily be used to clean silver as well. First, grab a small bowl or a basin. This will be used in order to combine the mixture. Next, pour about half of a cup of lemon juice in, and then add a teaspoon of the oil. Be sure not to go overboard with the oil. After the mixture has been thoroughly combined, dip the silver into the bowl. Using a small soft cloth, take each piece and gently start buffering with the mixture. After this mixture is completely washed off, make sure to dry the item off completely using a second clean cloth or hand towel.
3. Vinegar and Baking Soda
While this method may take a little longer and may seem too simple to be effective, it is actually one of the most efficient ways to clean silver. It is important to get the measurements correct in order to ensure a proper chemical reaction. By mixing two tablespoons of the soda with one-half cup of white vinegar, the chemical reaction which takes place will help to dissolve dirt and enhance shine as well as clean intricate pieces. This method takes about three to four hours between soaking, rinsing, and polishing; However, it is well worth the extra time and effort.
4. Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil
For silver pieces that require a little extra care, this is a fabulous and easy method to use in a pinch. Set a kettle of water or use a soup pan to boil. As that water boils, grab a bowl or basin. Ensure that it is deep enough to completely submerge the items which are being cleaned. Next, line the bowl completely on the inside with the foil. Once the water has begun boiling, pour it into the bowl, using one cup of water per tablespoon of the baking soda. This hot water solution combined with the aluminum foil will create a chemical reaction, which is highly effective in thoroughly cleansing silver. Place the items in the bowl and set a timer for five to ten minutes. If the items are particularly soiled, they may be left in this solution for a bit longer. Once the desired effect has taken place, drain the water and softly pat the items dry with a soft cloth. Avoid using paper towels, which can scratch and damage the items.
5. Try Tackling Tarnish with Toothpaste
Toothpaste can be a great way to effectively clean silver; However, it is best to avoid this method when polishing and cleaning items containing gemstones and diamonds. Toothpaste can actually damage precious stones so it is best to avoid this method in those situations. Using a toothbrush or a jewelry brush, apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste directly onto the silver. Let the toothpaste sit on the item for about five to ten minutes. When it’s time, using slow circular motions, gently start scrubbing the item, ensuring that every nook and cranny is addressed. Then, using warm water, rinse all toothpaste off the item and continue to pat dry with a soft cloth.
More Tips on Preventing Tarnish
Many people loathe cleaning silver items, as it can be time-consuming, depending on how severely tarnished they are. There are a few preventative measures one can take in order to keep it from happening in the first place. The method in which one stores their jewelry is incredibly important. It is important to ensure that jewelry remains dry, and is not submerged in water or remains damp for too long. Don’t ever swim while wearing silver pieces, as chlorine can do irreparable damage to them. Sunlight can also damage silver, so be sure to store pieces in a jewelry box, or another area where it is dark, cool, and dry. Silver is considered to be a soft metal, which makes it more prone to damage. Try to avoid scratching it against sand, gravel, and other abrasive surfaces.
Another helpful suggestion is to invest in high-quality silver polish. Silver polish can come in wipes or as a creamy liquid solution and is used to prevent damage, corrosion, and discoloration while enhancing shine and luster. It can be purchased at just about any jewelry store, as well as larger retailers.
Polishing Silver Doesn’t Have to be a Headache
Silver items are often passed down through generations. It’s not uncommon for one to own pieces of silver that have been in the family for hundreds of years. Heirloom quality silver jewelry, as well as other delicate items, may require a little extra research in order to ensure that they are properly cared for. Cleaning silver pieces may first seem to be quite an endeavor. However, by using the aforementioned tips, tricks, and techniques, one can ensure that their silver items remain in pristine condition and can continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.