How to Clean Silver Jewelry at Home

Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s hard to believe your once shiny jewelry has lost its luster, looking discolored and grimy in some corners. To add to the frustration, the silver rings, necklaces, and earrings you only occasionally wear will still look tarnished and need cleaning.

You might feel discouraged as you stare at the tarnished silvers, but we have great news! Restoring your jewelry to its pristine state is not all hard to accomplish. You’ll even find all the tools you need in your house.

Here’s everything about how to clean silver jewelry at home, along with some tips to prevent silver from tarnishing.

What Causes Silver to Tarnish?

A quick look at the scientific side explains that discoloration occurs because of the chemical interaction in the air between silver and sulfur. The two compounds are all it takes for your jewels to darken.

Additionally, tarnishing happens because of exposure to heat, air, and moisture. Other contributing factors are products that contain sulfates, such as:

  • Beauty products like hairspray, lotion, and perfumes
  • Craft papers used for packaging that are sulfur-based
  • Exhaust and smoke
  • Rubber and plastic bags
  • Leather

Storing your silver jewelry in containers with materials high in sulfur will speed up the deterioration process, so avoid using plastic and rubber bags to keep your silver in a pristine state.

Determining the Type of Silver

Knowing your silver is as essential as knowing how to clean it. Determining the type of silver in your inventory will help you understand how to keep it sparkling and prevent it from tarnishing.

Some types of silver are highly susceptible to scratches, dents, and chips. They often need more care. Likewise, some types tarnish faster than others.

To help you maintain your accessories, we’ll walk you through this quick guide on the types of silver in jewelry.

Fine Silver

Consisting of 99.9% pure silver and 0.1% other elements, you often find this delicate metal in pendants and earrings. Fine silver can dent easily upon bumping into hard surfaces because it’s almost made entirely of silver, which is a bit brittle.

So, take caution when wearing and cleaning it, and it’s better to keep it for occasional wear.


Sterling silver is the most common type used for silver jewelry. So, does sterling silver tarnish quickly?

The answer is yes, and it’s more prone to discoloration after a while. It mainly happens because of contact with sweat, moisture, and air contaminants.

The excellent news is sterling silver is easy to fix. You’ll clean it once in a while, and it’ll regain its shiny state.


This modern non-tarnish alloy is expensive, containing 93.5% silver. Famous for its resistance to tarnishing, heat, and staining, Argentium requires less polishing than most types of silver.


Silver-filled is the thickest type of silver surface coating. The outer layer can take years to tarnish or wear off if adequately handled. So, caring for this type of silver is definitely worth the effort!


Despite its distinct look, silver-plated is inexpensive compared to other silvers. It’s known to be shiny and durable but easy to tarnish and generally not built to withstand regular wear.

How to Clean Silver Jewelry at Home

Ready to start cleaning? Well then, let’s get down to business! Thankfully, just as table stains can be wiped and scrubbed, so can your tarnished silver with simple, cost-effective ingredients.

Here are some household items and methods to bring the sparkle back to your jewelry.

Option 1: Baking Soda

Using baking soda is convenient for cleaning nooks and crannies that are hard to reach with a polishing cloth. However, it’s only suitable for cleaning sterling silver jewelry and silver chains, as the baking soda can eat away at other types of silver.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Large bowl
  • Aluminum foil
  • Soft cloth
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • Boiling water


  • Cut a piece of aluminum foil about the size of the bottom of your bowl, and place it inside.
  • Pour the boiling water in with 2 tbsp baking soda and 1 tbsp salt, then give it a little stir.
  • Place your jewels in the bowl, ensuring they are fully submerged and not touching one another.
  • After about 3-5 minutes, remove the jewelry from the bowl and pat dry with a soft cloth.


To avoid burning your fingers, you can use tweezers or tongs to scoop the jewelry.

Option 2: Liquid dish Soap and Water

Want to try something cost-effective? Just grab your everyday liquid dish soap! This is another ingredient we recommend when cleaning sterling silver, as it doesn’t contain any abrasive chemical that can scratch the surface.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Bowl of warm water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Towel
  • Small sauce bowl


  • In a small sauce bowl, pour a decent amount of dish soap mixed with 2 tbsp of warm water.
  • Dip your toothbrush in the liquid soap, then gently brush your tarnished jewelry
  • Rinse it in the bowl of warm water and repeat the process if necessary
  • Dry off your jewelry by patting it down with a towel

Option 3: Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Another soaking method that proves impressive in removing heavy tarnish is adding vinegar to baking soda.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Large bowl
  • Aluminum foil
  • Soft cloth
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of boiling water


  • Prepare a bowl with aluminum foil at the bottom, then place the jewelry inside, separating them from one another.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the boiling water with 1 tbsp baking soda and 1tbsp salt.
  • Pour the mixture into the bowl with the jewelry
  • Add ½ cup of white vinegar
  • Let it soak for about 10 minutes
  • Scoop the jewelry and rinse under cool water, patting it dry with a soft cloth

Option 4: Lemon and Salt

Pair lemon juice with salt and see the magic happen! Lemon has plenty of benefits aside from improving your immunity and burning fats. One includes brightening your silver jewelry.

Things You’ll Need:

  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • Pot
  • Towel


  • Add your 2 tbsp of salt, sliced lemon, and water to the pot
  • Turn on your stove to heat the mixture for 1 minute
  • Carefully place your jewelry inside the pot
  • Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water evaporates, leaving powdery leftovers.
  • Rinse the jewelry under cool water
  • See the sparkle and gently pat dry with a towel

Option 5: White Vinegar and Essential Oils

If you prefer a toxin-free jewelry cleaner, essential oils are the answer. They aren’t only suitable for aromatherapy but for cleaning silver as well.

We recommend using the listed essential oils below, but you can use other types.

Things You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup of warm water
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Soft cloth or towel
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • Lime essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Sliced lemon


  • Add 2 tbsp of salt, sliced lemon, and water to the bowl
  • Add 3 drops of both lime and lemon essential oils
  • Place your jewelry in the bowl and let it soak for 5-10 minutes
  • Gently scrub your jewelry with the toothbrush to remove the loosened grime
  • You can either air dry the jewelry or use a very soft cloth to dry it


Remember to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid scratching your jewelry.

How to Protect Your Silver Jewelry From Tarnishing

Now that you’ve regained the lustrous shine of your jewelry, it’s only natural to want to maintain its current state. Here are a few ways to protect your silver from tarnish!

Keep Jewelry Away from Water

Water contains varying levels of sulfur. Chlorine will cause the silver to corrode. So, removing any silver accessory you wear before taking a shower, washing dishes, working out, and especially when swimming in pools is generally better.

On top of that, try not to leave the jewelry inside the shower or near the sink, as moisture will build up, and water will eventually splash onto your jewelry.

Proper Storage

Consider storing your jewels in anti-tarnish bags or velvet boxes. Or, store it in closed, cool and dry cabinets for rarely worn jewelry.

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning regularly goes a long way to keep the sparkle and shine of your silver! Silver cleaning products come in handy for consistent upkeep. Many affordable and easy-to-use products, such as polishing clothes and sprays, are available.

Goodbye Tarnish, Hello Sparkle!

Wearing our most prized jewelry can boost our confidence, especially when it twinkles. So, when your ring, necklace, or earring takes a turn in the grimy path, don’t hesitate to use the methods listed here!

Once you’re finished, you can say hello to brand-new-looking jewelry!

About Emily Leake

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