Cleaning Sterling Silver

How Do Studio Guest Suites Clean Silver?

Let me begin by saying that after a quick Google search on ‘how to’ with cleaning sterling silver, I was surprised how many different and conflicting methods for cleaning silver there are. Below is a summarised list of what I discovered:

  • Toothpaste with baking soda – is another common household item that you can use for cleaning sterling silver.  Coat the item in toothpaste and rub it with a soft cloth. Rinse it under warm water and dry. If you decide to use a toothbrush, make sure it is one with extra-soft bristle
  • Aluminium foil & Laundry Powder – to make your jewellery or silverware sparkle line a medium-sized bowl with aluminum foil and fill it with hot water. Mix in one tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent, and then soak your silver for one minute. Rinse with clean water, and air-dry.
  • Hand Sanitizer – not only fights germs, but it’s great for cleaning sterling silver . Squirt a few drops on a soft cloth and rub away the tarnish
  • Tomato Sauce – can help. Squirt a small amount on a paper towel, and rub gently over the tarnished areas. If your silver isn’t getting shinier, let the sauce sit for 15 minutes, then rub with a soft cloth and rinse clean. For items that have textured details, as with some candlesticks or fancy silverware, use a toothbrush to clean between the crevices.
  • Corn Starch and water – made into a paste will make silver look new again. Apply with a damp cloth, let dry, then rub off with something mildly abrasive, like cheesecloth or a rough towel. Tip: You can substitute cream of tartar if you’re out of corn starch.
  • Lemon-lime soda – recaptures silver shine – by dunking your silver items in a bowl of lemon-lime soda for one hour. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Window Cleaner spray – on a rag or toothbrush, and use it to gently scrub your sterling silver. You should be able to restore your silver its original shiny state
  • Ammonia & Water – Brighten silver trinkets by soaking them for 10 minutes in a solution of one cup warm water and 1/2 cup clear ammonia. Gently wipe clean and dry.
  • Conditioner – will prevent silver tarnish; try rubbing conditioner on clean silver.
  • Chalk – Silverware will stay shiny if you keep a few pieces of chalk in the drawer or chest where you store it. The chalk absorbs moisture, preventing your nice utensils from tarnishing
  • White Vinegar & Baking Soda – will return lustre and shine to your silverware and jewellery by soaking it in 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for two to three hours. Rinse under cold water, and dry thoroughly
  • Lemon juice, Water, Instant Dry Milk – are simple ingredients for cleaning sterling silver and give sparkle, after soaking overnight in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 cup of instant dry milk.

There you have now heard it all! But the methods listed above for cleaning sterling silver are not how we go about cleaning our silver ware & jewellery at Studio Guest Suites, instead using a combination of two fail safe methods for silver cleaning and all other kinds of silver alloys, but this approach cannot be used on other metals nor costume jewellery.  Silver only! Remembering that sterling silver is a very soft metal that scratches and tarnishes easily and silver may tarnish more rapidly if you are located in a humid or highly polluted climate. Take care to keep silver away from rubber, vinegar, olives and fruit juice and put your jewellery on after using hair spray, perfumes and body lotions so the chemicals do not affect the silver. Because of its composition, silver takes more care than other metals. The positive being that it is easy to clean.

Method 1.  Aluminium foil and baking soda

What you’ll need:

  1. Boiling water
  2. Baking soda
  3. White salt
  4. Aluminium foil, shiny side up
  5. Bowl, bucket or sink depending on how much silver you have to clean
  6. Polishing cloth

What to doBoil the water and while it’s simmering up, line the bottom of the bowl, bucket or sink with the foil, shiny side up.  Cover the entire container with the foil.  Then, add the salt and baking soda to the bottom of the container, then add the boiling water and mix everything together until completely dissolved. You want all the granules to dissolve so that they don’t scratch your pieces.Gently place each piece of silver into the container.  Just let it sit, the chemical reaction does all the work for you. Rotate the silver items to ensure that all sides get exposure to the tinfoil. Take each piece out carefully, being careful not to burn yourself, and buff it gently with your polishing cloth.  You should start to see all the tarnish come off and the original glory of your silver return, we then follow this procedure with  ‘Method 2’ below, to give brilliant lustre and slow the reoccurrence of tarnishing.

Note: Jewellers will often advise against soaking jewellery. Instead, wash after it is used and dry it right away to avoid spots and do not use these cleaning methods if your jewellery has pearls or gem stones.

Method 2.  Soft cloths and silver polish

You can buff the silver with a 100-percent cotton or flannel cloth to prevent and get rid of tarnish. Specialty silver polishing cloths and paste polishes are readily available from hardware stores, jewellers and online. (We love Maas Silver Polish) When you use polish, make sure you wash the item off in sudsy water and then run it under water. Sterling silver dips can work well if used correctly, although exercise caution if the jewellery has a stone or gem. Washing silver by hand with a mild detergent and a soft cloth or sponge in warm water. Storage is also an important component of sterling silver care. Keep it in a cloth bag, like the one some jewellery comes in, or in an air-tight plastic bag. Store it separately from other metals.