I am often asked, How do you remove tarnish from silver jewelry? There’s two answers: You can do it the wrong way, or you can use my recipe for a safe and natural tarnish remover.
Tarnex? No Way! Anti-tarnish creams and polishes damage your silver by eating into them with toxic chemicals. Forget them. Forget, also, the scrubbing, wiping, and all other “elbow grease.”
The other problem with creams is that they either do not get into all the holes, edges, and corners, or, if they do, they are nearly impossible to clean out later.
Cleaning flatware or other food serving items? Those nasty creams have chemicals that are not good for you. If they are not completely cleaned out, you will end up eating them.
Finally, if you have multiple pieces, like a handful of jewelry items, you have to do them one at a time. That’s a waste of time.
Here’s what you can do instead.
Recipe for a natural tarnish remover:
- Put enough near-boiling water in a plastic, ceramic, or glass container to cover your pieces (such as a glass baking dish).
- Put in a piece of aluminum foil, non-shiny surface up.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and stir it to dissolve.
- Drop in your silver pieces. Make sure they are touching the aluminum foil at some point. If you add multiple pieces, spread them out so they aren’t touching.
- Wait a few minutes. (You can turn them over and stir the liquid a bit, but it really isn’t necessary. Just walk away, drink coffee, and come back in 5 minutes or so.)
- Take out your silver pieces, rinse them off with cool water, and dry them. You’re done!
Wasn’t that easy?
How it works
Tarnish on silver is silver sulfide, created when silver and sulfur come in contact. Fortunately, sulfur is more attracted to aluminum than it is to silver. With this process, we make a chemical bath that allows the sulfur to leave the silver and attach to the aluminum. No more silver sulfur = no more tarnish!
See it in action
Here’s a video demonstration I made for my old site at Chain of Beauty
What this won’t do: This isn’t a polish. This is a tarnish removing process. In most cases, that is all you need, right? For gentle cleaning and light polishing, see my post on Sterling Silver Jewelry Care.