How to Clean Tarnished Silver Jewelry 

From engagement rings to pendants and necklaces, silver jewelry is a preferred choice for many jewelry aficionados. Unfortunately, silver jewelry is prone to tarnish. This article will explore and provide tips on how to clean tarnished silver jewelry at home.

What is Tarnishing?

When silver is exposed to sulfur-containing gases in the air, it discolors and subsequently darkens as the gas reacts with it, forming a varnish layer on the surface of your jewelry. Tarnishing is the term used for this phenomenon.

Although cleaning can be time-consuming, tarnish can be removed from silver using polishing or other methods. Furthermore, some silver is lost from your jewelry when it is tarnished and cleaned, as you remove a thin layer through polishing. Be careful in particular when polishing silver-plated objects rather than pure sterling silver jewelry, which can harm or even remove the thin coating of silver plating entirely.

Which Type of Silver Jewelry is Prone to Tarnish?

Silver jewelry you wear every day, such as your favorite pair of silver earrings or your go-to silver cross pendants do not permanently tarnish quickly. These commonly worn pieces usually only require a light polish now and again. More delicate silver jewelry sitting in boxes or on trays for a long time, oxidizing due to exposure and lack of usage, may require a more rigorous scouring.

Methods To Clean Silver Jewelry

Silver is a soft, glossy metal; it must be cleaned with care. For cleaning everyday jewelry, a solution of warm water and mild dishwashing soap, or even baby shampoo can do wonders.

  • Mix warm water with a few drops of liquid dish soap in a mixing bowl and mix till bubbles are formed.
  • Dip the jewelry for 5 to 10 minutes in the solution.
  • Clean any crevices with a soft-bristle brush.
  • Warm water should be used to clean jewelry.
  • Use a silver cloth or a microfiber towel to wipe the jewelry gently to dry. You shouldn’t use paper towels since they can scratch the silver.

If the tarnish is not removed from your silver jewelry by the method mentioned above, then opt for the following methods:

Baking Soda and Water Scrub

To clean badly tarnished silver, make a paste with three parts baking soda and one-part water. Wet the silver and use a delicate, lint-free cloth to apply the cleaning (not paper towels). Work the paste into the design and crevices of your jewelry. This will turn the cloth grey, indicating the removal of the tarnish. Next, rinse and dry your jewelry pieces with a soft cloth.

Vinegar Soak

The vinegar soaking method can help you bring back the shine to your silver jewelry. Vinegar is safe for your silver jewelry, and it restores the brightness too. In a glass dish, soak silver jewelry in a half-cup of distilled white vinegar and two teaspoons of baking soda to eliminate tarnish. Allow three hours for the silver to soak, then rinse, dry, and polish with a microfiber cloth.

Hand Sanitizer

Another quick method is to reach for your hand sanitizer when you need to quickly remove tarnish from a piece of silver. The sanitizer contains alcohol which will dissolve the tarnish while also leaving a fine sheen. Wipe the tarnish away with a non-abrasive cloth soaked in hand sanitizer. Be careful using this method on more expensive, delicate pieces, like heirloom jewelry you may have. For such pieces, we recommend professional cleaning.

Jewelry Polishing Cloth

Finally, if the tarnish on your jewelry is light and not excessive, a simple jewelry polishing cloth can do wonders to remove tarnish from your silver relatively easily, depending on how much tarnishing your silver jewelry has sustained. There are even specific jewelry cleaning cloths that are made specifically for sterling silver.

When in doubt, seek professional cleaning, especially if a simple  soap & water solution and/or jewelry cleaning and polishing cloth does not help.

Category: Jewelry Care, Jewelry Education, Silver Jewelry

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