How to Clean Silver Jewelry at Home

Arrow Stud Earrings
Layered Chain Necklace Set


Silver jewelry is a beautiful accessory to any outfit, but it can tarnish quickly if not properly cared for. It's important to clean silver jewelry regularly to keep it looking its best. But you don't need to take it to a professional jeweler to get it cleaned - you can do it at home with just a few simple ingredients.

This article will show you how to clean silver jewelry at home using a few different methods. We'll also give you some tips on how to prevent your silver jewelry from tarnishing in the first place. Let's get started!



Water + Soap


Step 1: Fill a small bowl with warm, fresh water and add some all-natural dish soap.

Step 2: Place your silver jewelry into the solution.

Step 3: Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to rub the tarnish off. Make sure you scrub all of the metal, even in tight places where the tarnish might be hiding.

Step 4: Rinse the jewelry with water. You may also need to repeat this process with a new bowl of fresh water and a toothbrush to remove any remaining tarnish.

Step 5: Allow the jewelry to air-dry on a soft, cotton towel.


Baking Soda + Water

STEP 1. Soak the sterling silver pieces in warm soapy water. Mixing baking soda with all-natural dish soap will give you cleaner results and keep dirt particles from scratching your silver. On a side note, keeping your hands clean while handling jewelry is also very important as it helps prevent the transfer of skin oil and dirt to the metal.

STEP 2. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub away any remaining tarnish. Some jewelry pieces need special care when cleaning them as their stones are susceptible to damage.

STEP 3. To remove any whitish residue left behind by the baking soda, rub the jewelry gently with a toothbrush dipped in distilled water and then wipe dry with a gentle, cotton cloth.

STEP 4. Polish your silver jewelry using a polishing cloth to reveal its natural shine.

STEP 5. Make sure that your silver is completely dry before storing it away since moisture may cause tarnishing. Doing this task regularly will help prolong the life span of your sterling silver jewelry pieces and prevent them from losing their luster over time.

STEP 6. Don't forget to clean your jewelry every now and then to avoid the build-up of dirt, grime, and tarnish.


Olive Oil + Lemon Juice - The Soaking Method


STEP 1. Place your silver jewelry in a bowl of fresh water, allowing it to soak for about 30 minutes.

STEP 2. Add one teaspoon of olive oil, squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the bowl of warm water, and stir with a spoon. The citric acid helps remove tarnish.

STEP 3. Remove your silver jewelry and scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush dipped in warm water; repeat this process if needed.

STEP 4. Place your silver jewelry back into the bowl of warm water and add another teaspoon of olive oil and mix well. Allow the silver to soak for another 15 minutes.

STEP 5. Remove your jewelry pieces and allow them to air-dry on a soft, cotton cloth.


Olive Oil + Lemon Juice - The Tabbing Method


STEP 1: Add 1 tsp olive oil to a large glass bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

STEP 2: Place a small cotton cloth into the mixture to soak up your homemade cleaning solution.

STEP 3: Wring out the wet cloth and use it to scrub the jewelry clean gently.

STEP 4: Rinse the silver jewelry with fresh water and allow them to air-dry on a soft, cotton cloth.


White Vinegar + Baking Soda


STEP 1: Mix a solution made from ½ cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda into a bowl.

STEP 2: Warning: this mixture fizzes. Let your silver jewelry soak in this solution for two to three hours.

STEP 3: Rinse the silver jewelry in freshwater, and allow to air-dry on a soft, cotton towel.


Things to Avoid:


Many people think that a product labeled silver polish, cleaner, or dip will do the best job of getting the tarnish off of their sterling jewelry. The truth is harsh chemical products like these can ruin your silver jewelry if you don't know what you're doing!


1. Boiling Water


Some people think boiling water mimics the ultrasonic cleaners used in jewelry stores, but this is false. Ultrasonic cleaners utilize high-frequency sound waves and heat to remove dirt from hard-to-reach locations. The heating temperature in an ultrasonic cleaner is in a controlled setting and will never reach the boiling point of 212°F.

Boiling water can cause damage to your gemstones, and not only that; the extreme heat will affect the metal. When metal heats up, it may expand and cause loose gemstones to fall from their settings. When a gem is first placed into boiling water and then rinsed with cold water, the stone may experience thermal shock, causing it to fracture or split. These fragile gemstones include emeralds, garnet, opal, peridot, tanzanite, tourmaline, etc.


2. Citric Acid


Do not clean opaque gemstones with lemon juice; the citric acid in the juice can affect certain gemstones. For example, pearls dissolve in contact with citrusy substances like lemon juice.


3. Soaps + Detergents


Soaps and detergents are occasionally ok for jewelry cleaning, but only sparingly as they can deposit residue on the metal, causing it to look dull.


4. Toothpaste


Toothpaste consists of abrasive particles that polish tarnish away. However, these same harsh, scrubbing particles scratch silver and cause pits on the surface to form. Therefore, you should avoid using toothpaste on sterling silver, highly polished silver, or anything plated with silver.


5. Commercial Cleaners


If you're using a commercial cleaner to clean your silver jewelry, do a small patch test before using it on all your silver pieces. You don't want to discover that some of the chemicals in your jewelry cleaner can damage your favorite necklace or bracelet. When in doubt, opt for natural, at-home cleaning methods.


6. Alcohol


Avoid alcohol-based cleaners. There are claims that alcohol, when used to soak or rinse jewelry, aids in the removal of grease. Alcohol can leave a film on your gemstones and metals, which might dull or ruin them over time. Oil and water-based gemstones, such as emeralds and opals, should not be cleaned with alcohol. If you wash these stones with alcohol, the oils will soak into them, and the stones will dry out and crack.

Likewise, contact with other cleaning agents such as chlorine, bleach, antibacterial soaps, and hand sanitizers breaks down metals' brilliance and gems over time.


7. Harsh Paper


Never dry silver jewelry with rough paper like paper towels, napkins, or tissues. Rough paper can leave slight scratches on the surface of your jewelry.


8. Rubbing the Wrong Way


Many people think that polishing is the key to removing tarnish from silver jewelry. The problem is, if you don't know how to polish correctly, you can actually damage your jewelry. For example, when polishing silver jewelry, use a soft, lint-free cloth and gently rub in a circular motion. Don't rub the jewelry back and forth, as this can wear away the metal.


How to Prevent Silver Tarnish

Silver tarnish is a natural process that happens when silver comes into contact with sulfur. The silver reacts with the sulfur and produces a black or brown film on the surface of the metal. This film is called tarnish.

There are a few ways to prevent silver tarnish from happening.

1) Preventing silver tarnish starts with keeping silver jewelry away from sulfur-containing compounds. Sulfur-containing compounds can be found in perfumes, lotions, makeup, etc. If you are not sure if a product contains sulfur, you can check the label or ask the manufacturer.

2) Another way to prevent tarnish is to coat the silver with a protective layer. A protective layer like rhodium plating will help to prevent the silver from coming into contact with sulfur-containing compounds. There are a few different metals and products that can be used to coat silver, such as rhodium, platinum, tarnish prevention sprays, etc.

3) Clean silver jewelry on a regular basis. Tarnish can build up over time and make it more difficult to prevent. Use a gentle cleaner or warm water and a mild soap.

4) If you are not able to prevent tarnish from happening, you can remove the tarnish with a polishing cloth or silver cleaner. Be careful not to scratch the surface of the metal

5) Proper jewelry storage is important in preventing silver tarnish. Proper jewelry storage means storing jewelry in a cool, dry place. Humidity and high temperatures can speed up the tarnishing process.


Wrapping Up


Cleaning silver jewelry at home is easy with simple ingredients like baking soda and water. However, some things to avoid when cleaning silver, like using harsh abrasives or commercial jewelry cleaners. By following the tips above, you can clean your silver jewelry without unwanted damage.