How to Clean Water Spots from Silver


Jeanne asked: I have silver plated serving pieces (probably hollow), and after polishing, there are still stains. They almost look like water stains. I like these pieces, but they don’t appear attractive when used. Other than silver plating them, is there something I can do? The cost of having them redone is prohibitive. Thank you.

If you discover water spots on your silver after cleaning, the easiest thing to do is rewash the silver with a phosphate-free detergent, then dry with a soft, thick towel, taking care to ensure that all the moisture is gone from the surface. If that isn’t successful, you’ll have to take it one step further to restore the clean. Here’s what to do.

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Spots:

  1. Before you begin, make sure you wear anti-tarnish or cotton gloves while handling silver. Rubber gloves contain ingredients that may tarnish silver. Also, make sure the surface of the silver is clean and free of dust.
  2. Apply the silver cream according to label directions. Use long, straight strokes, rather than circular ones. Rinse the sponge frequently so you are always working with a clean area.
  3. Remove the cream according to manufacturer directions. After rinsing, immediately dry the silver with a soft clean cloth made of cotton.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Tarnish starts off very light and builds to dark, almost black in color. The spots you see may be the beginnings of tarnish. Whether they are truly water spots or are early stages of tarnish, this cleaning method should take care of them.
  • Cleaning removes a layer of silver, so it’s important to use a delicate polish or cream, especially if the silver is plated. Frequent cleanings will eventually wear the silver plating off, resulting in a need to have it redone.
  • Protect silver by removing all food particles as soon as possible, then cleaning carefully before traces of food can set and cause damage.
  • Metal Brite makes a silver cleaning plate that is designed to remove all tarnish. The reviews have been good, and it may be worth purchasing. It is used with everyday household products to clean and brighten silver.


  1. Mary says:

    I have an old mirror which is silver on the back. How do I clean the surface of the mirror? It looks streaked.

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