There’s something very satisfying about sitting down to clean silver.

If you are lucky enough to have inherited a silver cream jug from Granny, or if you have silver jewellery, you’ll know that it can become tarnished very quickly.

But there’s nothing like bringing something dull and dirty-looking to a bright, shiny polish. Here are our tips on how to clean silver.

Before you begin to clean silver items

First of all, ask yourself whether the object actually needs cleaning. Sometimes a bit of tarnish is part of the design, to give it more character.  If you remove all of the tarnish you might spoil the appearance. You might not be able to see the details on engravings, for example, if you clean all the tarnish away.

Here are our Top Tips for Cleaning Silver

Wash it away

A simple solution of washing up liquid, or laundry detergent, can be enough to clean silver.  Wash the surface of the item carefully, then rinse and dry.

Rub it away

You can clean silver by rubbing the tarnish away using something mildly abrasive. Make a paste with cornstarch and water. Rub it onto the surface and leave to dry, then rub away with a cloth.  Toothpaste, and baking soda can also produce the same results.

Dissolve it away

Many people swear by tomato ketchup to clean silver. Squirt a small amount onto a piece of kitchen towel and gently rub over the surface. For more stubborn tarnish, leave the ketchup to work for a few minutes before wiping it away, then rinse in clean water and dry.  It is the vinegar in the ketchup which removes the tarnish. Lemon juice works in the same way.

Soak it away

This method uses a chemical reaction between aluminium foil and baking soda to clean silver.  Take an aluminium foil dish, add baking soda and boiling water, then place the silver items in the solution to soak for a few minutes. The tarnish should disappear, without affecting the silver underneath. Read more about how this method works, here:

How to Clean Silver Jewellery

If you want to clean silver jewellery, you will need to take special care.

  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean delicate fastenings and small areas.
  • Do not clean jewellery over the sink it case you drop it!
  • Put small items into a sieve or an old tea strainer, and clean over a bowl.
  • Be very careful if your jewellery includes gemstones. Pearls can be easily scratched, for example.

How to Maintain Your Clean Silver

Now that you’ve cleaned your silver, you’ll want to keep it looking its best.

  • Silver becomes tarnished by moisture so make sure it is fully dry before storing.
  • Try storing your silver with silica gel bags.
  • Chalk can also help to absorb moisture.
  • Don’t wrap your clean silver items in newspaper; this can cause them to tarnish.
  • Try wrapping items in silver cleaning cloths.
  • Never clean silver items in a dishwasher.
  • Remove silver jewellery before washing your hands or showering so that it doesn’t get clogged with soap or hair conditioner.
  • Always take off rings before applying handcream or other cosmetics.

More Information:
For more great tips on how to clean silver and valuables, try these:

Good Housekeeping
The Victoria and Albert Museum