Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean silver.

Last Updated: October 15, 2020

Discover the best tips on how to clean silver and ensure your items keep their shine and luster over time!

Read more from Grove

Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

Alright, friends. Let’s talk silver. This tutorial applies to silver of all shapes, sizes, and persuasions. That means you can use it to clean the silver grandma left you in that dusty china cabinet and use it to clean your silver costume jewelry that you’ve had since you were 12. Hey, no judgment! We like costume jewelry too. Hopefully these tips will help you take your silver from dull and dreary to shiny and cheery in no time.

Why should you clean silver?

Cleaning is important, because silver items will lose their shine and luster over time. This is due to a chemical reaction between the silver and the sulphur that’s present in the air.

It can also be caused by hair sprays, perfumes, cosmetics, oils from the skin, hand creams, and even some types of foods. Nowadays, many silver items are plated with a thin coat of rhodium. It protects the metal from tarnishing and makes it brighter and shinier. However, this thin protection wears off quickly. The result is blackened silver. That means if you want to remove the tarnish, your silver items must be cleaned occasionally.

How often should you clean silver?

Polishing silver once a year should be enough to keep it in good condition. If once a year doesn’t satisfy your cleaning compulsion, an easy way to maintain the shine of your silver is to wash it with good old water. You can safely do this as often as 2-6 times in a year.

Ultimately, how frequently you clean silver depends on how often it is used, where it is stored, and where you live. Any humidity in the atmosphere can cause silver to tarnish quickly.

Funnily enough, silver items used more tend to tarnish less than those that are rarely ever used. Go figure. However, if your silver is stored in fabrics or specially treated material designed for silver storage, it will maintain its luster and shine much longer, even if you don’t use it very often.

Things you'll need to clean silver

Steps to clean silver

Step 1: Rub with a damp cloth

Mix water with some dish soap and dampen a soft cloth. Rub your silver items with the cloth in a circular motion. This step will help dislodge and soften any dust particles and grime stuck to the items.

Step 2: Clean with a bristle brush

Use your soft bristled brush to clean the carved areas on your silver items. It will allow you to get into tight areas easily for a more thorough cleaning. Though the bristles are soft, you should still scrub gently to avoid damaging your silver.

Step 3: Clean with a silver polishing mixture

This is similar to step 1. However, you can use either a blend of baking soda or vinegar, or try a baking soda and aluminum soak in this step, to remove tarnish and leave behind shiny, sparkling silver.

Step 4: Rinse with water

Once all visible tarnish is removed, rinse your silver items with clean, cold water to make sure no dish soap, baking soda, and/or vinegar solution is left behind.

Step 5: Dry with cloth

Use a microfiber cloth or a special silver cloth to dry your items properly. You could also air dry, but you’ll want to make sure to set your items in a place to air dry that’s warm, bright, and not muggy. Otherwise, leaving behind water on the items may cause more blackness.

Step 6: Store properly

Store your silver items in properly lined containers. You can also use air-tight bags with anti-tarnish agents to store silver. Remember, if you don’t store your silver properly, it won’t hold up as well and you’ll be cleaning it more frequently.

Sustainability Tip

The easiest way to maintain the shine and luster of silver is to keep it in air-tight bags with anti-tarnish properties when not using it. That way you can slow down the chemical reaction with sulphur that’s present in the air, and delay the tarnishing process that occurs.

By minimizing tarnishing from happening, you will have to clean your silver less frequently, which is just good all across the board. Remember, every time you have to polish silver to remove tarnish, you also remove a thin layer of silver.

Silver cleaning tips & tricks

What’s the best home remedy to clean silver?

White vinegar, hot, distilled water, and baking soda is the most popular home remedy to soak your silver and remove unsightly tarnish.

How do you clean heavily tarnished silver?

Very carefully! Heavy tarnish can inspire you to go overboard with the scrubbing. Use the steps and tips we’ve laid out, and tread lightly.

Can you clean silver with vinegar?

Yes! See our tips above on how to do it effectively. Cleaning your silver doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s frankly more time-consuming than anything, since you have to allow time for soaking to remove tarnish. We recommend cleaning your silver while undertaking another home project you’ve been meaning to get to, like cleaning the toilets, or cleaning the oven. In this case at least, multitasking is your friend!

Shop silver cleaning products

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

Shop Grove
Join thousands of happy customers creating a healthier home. Get started to select your free welcome set!
Claim My Offer