Cleaning Silver and Jewelry
Berkeley Parents Network >
Household Management >
Cleaning Silver and Jewelry
I have 3 silver ''snake-chain'' necklaces that are looking darker
and dirtier as time progresses. I've tried metal polishing
cloths and keep them in ziploc bags to slow down oxidation. Not
much success. The cloth loosens the dirt and rubs it
into ''snake chain'' openings. A Tibetan store owner recommended
Tarn-X and I put it back on the shelf when I saw the big print
that it is known to cause cancer. A friend of mine used it
anyway and had no success with her necklaces of the same kind.
Do you know of a non-toxic and successful way to clean silver
jewelry and bring it back to shine? There's got to be a way...
Silver polish and a toothbrush, or flannel cloth should get your
necklaces shiney bright. Silver polish is kind of pastey/goopy.
Coat the necklaces really thoroughly, leave it for 5 minutes or
so, scrub it lightly with the toothbruch and rinse in warm water.
You may need to do some spot scrubbing after that. It's pretty
Take a large pot (not non-stick), and line the inside with
aluminum foil. Put in 8 cups of water, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4
cup salt, and 1/4 cup liquid dish soap, and stir it a little.
Place your sterling silver jewelry into the solution. Bring the
to a simmer for a few minutes. Then turn off the burner and let
it sit for another couple of minutes. Then using a colander or
strainer, pour out the solution. Rinse with cold water. Count
your items as you place them on a towel to dry. Make sure you’ve
account for all your jewelry before you throw away the aluminum.
It will be dirty because the oxides on your jewelry were
transferred to it. Your sterling silver jewelry should now look
This is easy and fast, and all natural! Get a tin pie plate and
line the bottom with aluminum foil. Sprinkle some baking soda
on the tin foil, and lay your necklace on it. Boil a little
water and pour it over the tin foil. Voila! Your necklace will
be shiny in seconds.
at least I learned something in chemistry!
I think you can soak it in a water/baking soda solution. Or, use
baking soda and a tiny bit of water (to make a paste) and a drop
of dish detergent, and use that paste on a toothbrush to clean
A great and easy way to clean all silver, including silver place
settings, is to put the silver in an aluminum dish (like one of
those roasting pans you get at the grocery store) and liberally
sprinkle it with baking soda and then pour boiling water over it
all. When it cools, remove and wipe dry. It gets off all the
tarnish and makes it very shiny.
Easy and easy on the environment, too!
I'm sure that a jeweler would be horrified by this, but I've
always used white toothpaste to polish my sterling silver stuff.
Definitely non-toxic, and I've never seen any long term ill-effects.
I have always used toothpaste to clean silver jewelry-cheap,
non-toxic, rinses off with water...
Wanted to add a comment to those recommendations to clean
silver with a toothbrush and toothpaste: Don't! Toothbrush
bristles -- nylon or natural -- can scratch soft metals such as
sterling. To get out stubborn grime in crevices, let them soak
in a warm cleaning solution, such as the baking soda/boiling
water idea shared by others.
Also, for those who think toohpaste is ''non-toxic'': Have you
read the warning labels on any tube of commercial toohpaste
(Exception perhaps for Tom's of Maine or some other natural
brands)? They tell you to call the Poison Control center
immediately if you swallow ''more than is used for brushing.''
Gotta be some wierd chemicals in there!
I have lots of silver and pearl jewelry that is badly tarnished,
and don't know how to clean it... pearls can't handle silver
polish without getting badly damaged. I've tried polishing
cloths and they take FOREVER to get results, and even then the
outcome is only so-so, because I can't get the inside of the
silver chains, etc. Any ideas? Or has anyone had experience
with a jewelry store that will do this for a reasonable charge?
For a chemical free cleaning of silver, try potatoe water.
Once the water has cooled, let the silver soak for about half
an hour in the potatoe water. (You could take the potatoes out
before doing this). Rubbing the silver in the starchy water
cleans the silve, try a tooth brush for the crevises.
Baking soda or a non-gel toothpaste also works. Use as little
water as possible. I don't know if the peroxides react, so I'd
go with the plain ones w/o the extra chemicals in them for
Also, certain plasticizers will cause silver to tarnish
faster. I.E. don't store in plastic bags; acid-free paper or
cloth is better. Rubber products can also cause silver to
I am a goldsmith and disagree with some advice given to you
about polishing your silver and silver/pearl jewelry. The two
things you tried before are the most appropriate way of cleaning
silver jewelry and silver jewelry with pearls. The best way you
mentioned, although a bit time consuming, is with a rouge cloth
(also called polishing cloth or silver cloth). Your jewelry
will stay brighter for a longer period of time(oxidize more
slowly) than when using a ''dip''. (If you do use a dip make
sure that it specifically states that it is 'safe for pearls')
When you use the cloth, you are right, you can't reach the deep
crevices. Most people who know jewelry would say that this
accentuates all of the dimensions and fine detail of a chain or
other piece of jewelry. Silver oxidizes, that is it's natural
state, use that to add to the beauty rather than expect some
bright, forever/falsely shiny piece. DO NOT use baking soda or
any type of tooth paste on any jewelry. Not only does it cause
very fine surface scratches it is nearly impossible to remove
without professional help from all but flat surfaces and will
not do justice to your stones either. As for the potato water,
I have no experience with that.
Park yourself in front of a show that you enjoy with your silver
cloth or polish away on a blanket in the park. It doesn't take
that long. Then enjoy the different contrasts of bright metal
next to darker metal ~ it is beautiful! Good Luck
this page was last updated: Jul 19, 2005
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network