Typically, many people take out their nice silver for “special occasions.” However, despite the many events that qualify, the silver may still sit unused in the fancy cupboard you bought to house it, tarnished beyond recognition. You want to bring it out, but silver polishes often contain harsh chemicals: bad for the environment and for yourself.
So how can you get your silver shiny without harming the earth and its inhabitants? Here are some natural ways to clean silver – both your cutlery and your jewelry – so you can schedule that next dinner party, and have something sparkly to wear to it.
Here’s a list of homemade cleaners to help remove tarnish and buff metals to a shine, some of them may surprise you!
Toothpaste: Squeeze a dab of organic toothpaste on a piece of cloth or flannel, and rub onto silver.
Baking soda and water: Mix baking soda and water to make a paste, then rub silver with it.
Water/baking soda/aluminum foil: Place silver cutlery and/or jewelry in an aluminum pan or a baking dish lined with foil. Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the pieces. Pour boiling water over top and allow it to soak for about 15 minutes. The tarnish will magically appear on the foil rather than the silver.
Aluminum foil and vinegar: Line the base of a skillet with foil, shiny side facing upward. Mix 1 cup vinegar per quart of water, and bring liquid to a boil. Place silver into boiling water and soak for about five minutes before turning off stove. Remove silver pieces and rinse them with hot water. Wipe dry with soft cloth.
Rubbing alcohol: For mild mineral spots or residue, combine 1 part rubbing alcohol and 4 parts water in a bowl, dip a clean cloth or rag into the mixture, and rub over silver. Then wipe dry with a clean cloth.
Once the silver is shiny again, how do you keep is so? Store silver in anti-tarnish bags or wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and sealed in a zip-top bag. Also, do not wear rubber gloves or store anything rubber near the silver, as rubber corrodes silver.
Directions For Use:
- Using a damp cloth or toothbrush, scrub with one of the following then wipe off with a damp cloth and buff to a shine with a piece of flannel or other soft material. If the piece has a lacquer coating for protection, simply wipe with a damp cloth then dry with a soft one.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tabasco Sauce
- Ketchup (allow to dry then scrub off with a cloth or soft bristle brush)
- Tomato Juice Soak: Cover the piece with tomato juice and allow to soak for a few hours. Rinse off with clear water then buff dry.
- Milk Soak: Mix two parts milk with one part water, soak pieces for a couple hours then rinse with clear water and buff dry with a cloth. If you’re out of milk, try plain yogurt (undiluted) or sour milk instead.
- Vinegar Soak: Mix two parts vinegar with one part water, soak pieces for a couple hours then rinse with clear water and buff dry.
- Cream of Tartar & Lemon Juice: Make a paste then scrub into piece. Rinse off with clear water and buff.
- Vinegar & Salt: Pour vinegar on a cloth, sprinkle with salt then gently rub into piece.
- Lemon Juice & Salt or Baking Soda: Sprinkle salt or baking soda on a wedge of lemon, this will provide a gentle abrasion for removing grime.
- Old-timers Tip: Rub piece all over with olive oil then with a dry rotten-stone (tripoli), remove with a cloth and buff to a shine.
Protect From Tarnishing: Keep things shiny by polishing with olive oil.
Lacquer Finish: Some pieces have a lacquer finish to help prevent tarnishing. If you wish to remove it, boil piece in a large pot of boiling water with 3 tablespoons baking soda and 3 tablespoons washing soda. Polish dry with a soft, dry cloth once the lacquer has been successfully removed.
- Why do things like Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce & Lemon Juice work? It’s the acidic content that eats away at the tarnish. Milk also contains a lactic acid and that’s why soaking a piece in milk will help.
For Copper & Metals:
1 TBSP Flour
1 TBSP Salt
1 TBSP White Vinegar
- In a small bowl, combine salt and flour. Stir until well blended.
- Make a thick paste by adding vinegar to the salt and flour.
- Using a damp sponge or cloth, smear on the paste. Rub gently.
- Allow polish to dry for approximately one hour.
- Rinse piece well with warm water.
- Buff dry with soft cloth.
Suitable For: Brass, Bronze, Copper, Pewter
Not Suitable For: Silver, Silver Plate, Jewelry