How To Clean Tarnish from Sterling Silver

Stainless tea cups on a plate

Having a dinner party and your sterling silver looks not so sterling? Or that favorite ring or vase is looking a bit dull? Don't worry, you can restore sterling silver to its previous glory with a few simple ingredients and a little elbow grease. Of course one option to clean that dull off your sterling silver is to buy a silver cleaning lotion, which is available at most grocery or general stores. But what if you don't have the time to run to the store or would like to use a non-toxic alternative? Well, you have a couple of options. One is to use white toothpaste, (only white toothpaste -- gels don't work), or to use our best friend baking soda! Toothpaste is better if you do not have a lot to clean. Otherwise use the baking soda method.

You will need the following items:

  • A clean area to work
  • 2 clean dish or bath towels
  • 3 clean, soft, lint-free cloths
  • A sink with available warm water
  • A box of baking soda (if you decided against toothpaste)
  • A bowl (if using baking soda)
  • A tube of white toothpaste

Here's how you can get the tarnish off of sterling silver: 

  1. Lay out both of the dish or bath towels.
  2. Place the tarnished sterling silver objects on one of the towels.
  3. If using baking soda, make a paste in you bowl by adding some water to some baking soda. Be careful not to make it too thin.
  4. Put a dab of baking soda paste or toothpaste onto the sterling silver. Rub with one of your clean, soft, lint free cloths. Continue this step until the sterling silver is completely covered with paste and it is well rubbed in.
  5. Place coated sterling silver on the second clean dish or bath towel.
  6. Repeat steps four and five until all of the sterling silver objects you are cleaning are coated.
  7. Carefully carry your silver to the sink and run warm water.
  8. Use the second clean, soft, lint-free cloth to gently rub the baking soda or toothpaste off the sterling silver while holding it under the running warm water.
  9. Use the third clean, soft, lint free cloth to dry and polish any fingerprints off of the sterling silver.
  10. Step back and enjoy the gleam!

If you missed any spots, don't worry -- just repeat the steps until all of the tarnish is gone. Now your sterling silver is returned to its previous beauty, ready to be admired and enjoyed by all!

Alicia M. Donatone

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