Tarnished silver can put a damper on your spirits, especially when what was once shiny and elegant looking is now dull and dirty in appearance. However, cleaning up tarnished silver can require a significant amount of time and elbow grease that you may feel is better spent on other DIY projects in your life.
Fortunately, we’ve collected a list of the best homemade silver polishing remedies. These methods are both easy-to-use and fast-acting, so all of the silver in your home will be shining like it was brand new, in no time at all.
- Why Make Your Own Silver Polish?
- Your Guide to Creating Homemade Silver Polish
- How to Protect Your Silver From Tarnish
- Bring Back Your Silver’s Shine
Why Make Your Own Silver Polish?
While you can buy silver polish from a store to help with adding shine back into your materials, this may not always be the easiest solution —especially if you have a lot of silver and not a lot of time to spend polishing each piece perfectly, or if you need your silver polished as soon as possible and don’t have time to run to the store.
Homemade silver polishes are inexpensive and can be quickly put together using materials found around your home, with many of them saving you the time you might have spent polishing each silver piece carefully with a store-bought polish.
Your Guide to Creating Homemade Silver Polish
This complete guide to homemade silver polishes will give you the four best methods of cleaning up your silver quickly and with minimal work.
Method One – Use Condiments
It may seem strange, but ketchup is actually a great material for polishing your silver. The reason ketchup works so well is because the acidity in the tomatoes reacts with the oxidation of the tarnished silver, removing any dull spots and leaving behind a nice bright shine.
Apply a small amount of ketchup to a cotton cloth or paper towel.
Rub the ketchup along any tarnished areas and rinse it off.
If there is still some tarnish left, allow the ketchup to sit on the affected area for up to 15 minutes before rinsing it off and drying it with a clean cloth or paper towel.
If the silver is very heavily tarnished, you may need to get a soft-bristled brush, such as a toothbrush. Use it to scrub the ketchup into the tarnish before leaving it to sit, and then rinse it off and thoroughly dry it.
Method Two – Carbonation
Lemon or lime flavored soda water can be just the thing to bring the shine back into your silver. Citrus already has natural cleaning properties, but when combined with carbonation, it should take the tarnish right out of your silver.
Add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid into a glass of soda water to increase the carbonation and an extra squirt of lemon or lime to really amp up the citric acid in the water.
Add in any piece of silver that needs to be freshened up and let it sit in the cleaning solution for up to an hour.
When the time is up, give the items a rinse and dry them off with a clean cloth, taking time to appreciate the shine of your silver items.
This method works best on items likes forks, spoons, knives, and jewelry that can be easily submerged into a glass or bowl of carbonated water.
Method Three – Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil
A very scrub-free method, this baking soda and aluminum foil trick works best on larger pieces that need cleaning, but can also be used for tarnished silverware. We don’t recommend using this method on any jewelry that has gemstones or is silver-plated, however, as the baking soda can be too abrasive and scratch up the surface of these delicate items.
Line a large bowl or deep pan with aluminum foil. Add whichever silver pieces in your home that need cleaning into this pan, making sure they don’t overlap on each other too much.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in one cup of baking soda for every gallon of water used.
Pour your mixed baking soda and water solution into the pan carefully as to avoid splashes or burns. Make sure all of the tarnished silver is completely covered and allow the silver pieces to sit in the solution for several minutes.
Carefully start removing the silver, using tongs so you don’t burn yourself. The tarnish should be completely gone as you pull the pieces out, but if it isn’t, you can repeat this method one more time with more hot water and baking soda.
Once all the items are shining and tarnish-free, you can rinse them and dry them with a clean cloth.
As an alternative to baking soda, you can combine a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent into each gallon of hot water, and then pour the mixture over your silver items in the same way. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse any trace of laundry detergent off of your silver items before drying them and putting them away.
Method Four – Corn Starch and Water
This method is a great option for use on tarnished jewelry or smaller items that need a quick touch up.
Combine a small amount of corn starch with water until you end up with a thick paste. You can then spread this paste over the tarnished areas on your jewelry, silverware, or other larger items that need spot cleaning.
Let the mixture dry completely and then rub at the area with a cloth, or in the cases of more severely tarnished areas, a soft-bristled brush.
Once you have cleaned the area, rinse any trace of the paste off and thoroughly dry the silver item.
If needed, you can substitute cream of tartar in this mixture one to one for the corn starch.
How to Protect Your Silver From Tarnish
You should be keeping up with routine care of your silverware if you want to reduce or prevent the amount of tarnish that accumulates on it over time. This means that you should regularly be washing down your silver pieces with warm water and a gentle dish soap. Once the items are clean, dry them thoroughly and store them in a cool, dry place when not in use.
You should also make sure to check on what kind of silver you have – items that are silver plated or antique silver may need a little bit of different care when it comes to these cleaning methods. Double check which type of silver you have before trying out one of our homemade methods, just to be on the safe side.
When to See a Professional
If you have several valuable silver items and aren’t too sure about polishing them yourself, you may want to see a professional. Professional silver cleaners and jewelers can bring the shine back into your silver items with care, using expert tools that ensure the safety and retained value of your silver.
Seeing a professional is a good idea if you have larger antique silver items to polish, jewelry with precious stones in it that won’t hold up well to home polishing, or a sentimental silver item that you want to make sure stays in a good condition both during and after polishing.
Bring Back Your Silver’s Shine
Tarnished silver items are not the best look, but fortunately, shine can be brought back into these items. Using one of our homemade silver polishing remedies is the perfect solution for getting rid of your silver’s tarnished appearance as quickly and as easily as possible, leaving you with silver that has a fantastic level of shine.