How to clean silver naturally, even if it’s really tarnished! The tarnish just melts away with this trick!
Do you ever notice how those store-bought silver polishes have all kinds of death and disease warnings all over them? I’ve always felt like there has to be a better way to clean silver naturally! Well, I’m pretty paranoid about harsh chemicals, so maybe that’s why I let my grandma’s beautiful silver get to looking like this:
Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had no time for scrubbing and buffing and polishing this last year or so.
I’ve always used toothpaste for polishing silver, actually, which works great. It does, however, require a bit of elbow grease, so that just isn’t the right solution anymore for this time in my life.
Science to the rescue!
How to Clean Silver Naturally
Here’s what you need to do if your silver is in a similar state:
First, line the bottom of your sink with aluminum foil with the shiny side up.
Next, add in as much tarnished silver as will fit and sprinkle it all with about a cup or even a bit more of baking soda.
Next you’ll need some really hot water. I boiled about 10 cups on the stove, poured that into the sink and then topped the water level up with hot tap water until everything was covered.
A side note for all of you country dwellers: I used good ol’ well water and not the fancy filtered bottled water we have for drinking and that worked just fine. It didn’t affect the sciencey bits of the process at all! Yay!
So here’s how the sink looked for me at that point:
I’ve read about this technique from quite a few different sources and some said that you need to leave your silver to soak for 30 minutes or so. This isn’t true! The chemical reaction that occurs happens instantly! There’s a strong sulfur smell at first and you’ll actually be able to see the silver turning brighter as the water level in the sink rises and covers more tarnished surfaces!
Once that reaction happens, you just need to either pull your silver pieces out with some tongs or wait until the water won’t burn your hand. Then just rub them quickly with a soft cloth and they’ll be good as new! Or better than new really, because they just don’t seem to make things this pretty anymore!
Bonus! Keep all your classic pieces looking fresh and well cared-for with The Creek Line House:
I’ve done a few more batches since I took these photos and I did notice that the tarnish did seem to cling a bit more to some of my more ornate pieces. They were still a lot brighter, but I’d still like to go over them with a soft toothbrush and some toothpaste to get into all the nooks and crannies. Still, not bad, right?
Here’s the before:
This trick to clean silver naturally was so fun to play around with! It was so neat because you can actually see the tarnish transferring to the aluminum foil! I’ve also read that some people say you should also add salt and vinegar, but that seems almost unnecessary to me. I’d say keep the recipe as simple as possible!
Do you have a favorite way to polish all of your best silver pieces?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.