Silver jewelry is beautiful and offers great durability. However, with any exposure to humidity, silver will tarnish. This tarnish will quickly build, leaving you with a dark black coating in place of your shiny silver. Fortunately, there are several methods to quickly restore your silver to its original beauty.
Salt and Foil Method
You Will Need:
- Aluminum foil
- Salt or baking soda
- Soft cloth
- Small jar or bowl (depending on size of jewelry)
The Cleaning Process:
- Fill the jar or bowl about half full with hot water. (Be sure to use a jar or bowl that is heat safe.)
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the jar or a couple of tablespoons of salt to the bowl and mix to dissolve. Baking soda can be used instead of salt if preferred; it is a type of salt and will have the same result. Just look at the great result achieved by @Mrs.M.Life.N.Loves on Instagram using baking soda (bicarb) in the photo to the right!
- Add a few strips of aluminum foil to the jar or cover the bottom of the bowl with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Now simply drop your silver jewelry in the water.
- You can shake it around in the jar or swish it around in the bowl. The aluminum with the salt acts as a magnet, pulling the tarnish off of the silver.
- Allow the jewelry to set in the saltwater/aluminum foil mixture for a few minutes.
- Remove and rinse under running water.
- Repeat as needed until the tarnish is removed.
- Dry with a soft towel.
Silver Cleaners (Pastes or Dips)
Silver cleaners come in two forms, either a paste or a dip, and can contain harsh chemicals. They should be used only as a last resort. Be very careful with any gemstones as the solutions may strip them of their protective coatings. Read all warnings and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
You Will Need:
- Soft cloth
- Small bowl
- Silver cleaner
- Soft bristled toothbrush
- Rubber gloves
The Cleaning Process:
- Begin by wiping off as much of the tarnish with the soft cloth as possible.
- Place a small amount of silver dip solution in the bowl.
- Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and quickly dip the jewelry into the silver dip. Do not allow the silver to soak in the polish as the chemicals are too harsh for extended exposure.
- When using a paste, apply the paste using a soft cloth or soft bristled toothbrush, rubbing in a straight line motion. Remove it with a clean soft cloth. Do not rub in circles as the abrasives in the paste will scratch the surface of the piece.
- Rinse thoroughly under cool running water. Be sure to remove all of the solution or it will dry and leave a white residue that will be much more difficult to remove.
- Dry and buff with a soft cloth to restore the shine.
- Your silver should look good as new!
Additional Tips and Advice
- Store silver jewelry away from other metal jewelry to avoid scratches.
- Storing silver jewelry in a plastic zipped bag will keep the air out and possibly slow tarnishing.
- Silver is a soft metal so handle with care to avoid scratching and bending.
- Avoid using silver dips for pieces with gemstones, especially Turquoise or Lapis as they are porous and will absorb the cleaner. This will lead to quickly deteriorating the stone.
- Plain white toothpaste can be used in place of silver paste for cleaning.
- Cleaning your silver jewelry after each use with a soft cloth will keep it shinier longer.
The tip on cleaning silver with aluminum foil, salt and hot water does work. It’s quick and easy. It looks like the day I bought it.
Who needs expensive cleaners when you can use cheap things you have right in your own kitchen?!
Does the salt and aluminum harm stones, i.e. black onyx? Thanks.
Does anyone have an answer for Jackie? I’m wondering the same thing about salt and aluminum, only with amber.
Use an old toothbrush and gently rub toothpaste into your silver, leave for ten minutes and then wash off; job done!
The salt and foil method works – I used it on a silver pendant with two large pieces of turquoise and it is beautiful. No harm to the turquoise. You can smell the chemical reaction – like sulfur – at least that’s what I thought. It’s pretty cool. Thank you.
The salt and foil really works!!! How great is that?
Thanks I cleaned my silver earrings with the salt water/aluminum foil method and it worked wonders. Thanks!
Don’t try the foil and salt with any kind of stone. I did with three different kind of stones and it tarnishes, fades, ruins and damages the stone. It works wonders on the silver, but be careful with stones; my stones look faded and worn out and looks worse than it did before I did it. Just be careful; one of my stones fell out.
Oh boy … I just have to point out that there is nothing magnetic in silver, aluminum, or salt. The methods works very well for cleaning silver, but it most certainly does not create a magnet. It works by creating an electrolytic cell: the silver and the aluminum serve as the cathode and anode, and the salt ferries electrons back and forth.
As far as stones, I have only tried this with jewelry that contained cubic zirconia, and the stones are fine.
I inherited two beautiful Norwegian brooches and a necklace and earrings. All silver and all black. Due to the intricacy of all of them, I was afraid of ruining them and didn’t know how to clean them. Now I do! I am wearing them to my niece’s wedding today!!
Unbelievable. The foil method ROCKS! I’m stunned, especially after wasting so much money on those crappy “jewelry cleaners” in a jar for so many years. You don’t even have to rub the silver! THANK YOU!! I just love chemistry . . .
I tried this; I was amazed!! I was about to spend money on a new pair of earrings, but they went from a dirty shade of gray to possibly looking better than the day I brought them. The clear stone in them was so shiny too. I only waited one minute. I shall clean all my silver jewelry this way in the future.
A VERY BIG THANK YOU FOR SAVING ME TIME & MONEY!
Also, the toothpaste works. I just cleaned an entire charm bracelet with it. It was easier to grab at the moment than the other materials and it went very quickly. I will try the water, salt and aluminum next time. Hallelujah! Thank you!!
PS. I also enjoyed the chemistry lesson.
Pete H. says
Baking soda instead of salt works the same way and is much less abrasive to silver jewelry that contains gemstones. I have cleaned my silver rings that have emeralds and they look just as new as the day I bought them (using baking soda).
I cleaned my jewelry in seconds! Salt + hot water and foil = GREAT RESULT!!
Thank you so much! This worked perfectly for cleaning a 10-year-old silver baseball pendant my dad left me when he died.
The salt and aluminum foil technique is working nicely on my husband’s cufflinks – thank you! I’m watching it work right now! I think it’s been in there for about five minutes and the tarnish is almost all gone!
Amazing! I was about to go out and try to find some kind of silver cleaning cloth, but googled a question instead. I had three BLACK silver chains: one with a cross, and one with a filigree heart. I also thought I smelled a slight sulfur odor…no problem. Sooo easy…no cost…and I also thank the person who gave us the chemistry lesson. I thought it maybe was something like that. Can’t wait to share this info!
Baking soda can also be used instead of salt. Works like a beauty!
I have a Tiffany heart necklace and it was looking really dull, so I used plain white toothpaste, an old toothbrush and a little elbow grease, and wow; what a difference! It looks brand new. LOVING IT! Thanks for the info. Theresa
Thank you for the water and salt tip. It left my jewelry looking new.
Paul from Malta says
Hot water, salt, and aluminum foil really works. Thanks!
What about silver that has soft stones? I read Matt’s comment, and I’m worried about wrecking my jewelry with opals in it.
The foil method works wonders! Make sure you cover it in foil before you add water, because that is iffy on the directions!
I had a special piece, a silver pendant, and it was tarnished. I decided to try to clean it myself with some help. I was skeptical at first, but after trying it, I must say I was stunned with the outcome. It made it seem like it was a brand new piece; clear and shiny. It’s beautiful. Thanks.
I used the hot water, salt and aluminum foil method – WOW! So glad I found this tip! It brought my grandmother’s turquoise and silver ring back to life. Thanks!
Thank you very much for the information; the hot water, salt and foil really did work and cost nothing. 🙂
Yep, aluminium foil and salt solution worked a treat on my silver pendant and chain.
I would like to know what to use (dip or paste) to clean silver teacups, teapots, etc. Someone mentioned CLR. Is that true?
Has anyone tried to clean a pendant with a miniature glass paperweight as the center of a silver pendant?
I tried both – salt and soda. I thought soda worked slightly better, but what made the most difference was the thickness of foil – I had a real heavy duty one and a finer one. Afterwards, I also polished everything with toothpaste. Came out almost perfect.
Silver foil, salt and hot water is fantastic! The jeweler could not help me clean my precious silver charm bracelet as it was grey with gold colored tarnish. Nothing would clean it; no dips or anything. I was told to get it re-silvered, but this has worked brilliantly!!! Thank you!
I’ve just cleaned my silver/cz chain and pendant, and diamond/silver earrings. Result: very happy! I’ve been wondering how to clean these for ages. Thanks.
Guys, this method of hot water, salt and al. foil works so well and lasted much longer than before. THANKS DUDE…
I just tried the salt, water, aluminum method on my silver pendant and chain. The silver looks good. However, the large amber stone is now cloudy. What a shame. I should have known when there were no answers to questions above regarding stones. So, if you have stones or, as in my case, very large amber, don’t submerge the stone…only the silver chain.