There’s nothing worse than opening the kitchen drawer or your jewellery box to discover that all your silver has tarnished and is looking far from fresh.
If you’ve just discovered your silver has tarnished and you’re looking for ways to clean it easily and safely, keep on reading, this post is for you.
How Does Silver Tarnish?
Exposure to air, moisture, or other chemicals that can cause corrosion, leading to silver developing a tarnished appearance.
Silver tends to be mixed with other metals, and often, it is these metals that react and cause the tarnishing.
Fortunately, tarnishing tends to affect the top layers or surface of the metal, which means it can usually be removed with a little elbow grease.
It is worth remembering that tarnishing can get worse as time goes on, so you should try to deal with the problem as soon as you can.
If the tarnishing is left to its own devices, you may end up needing to have the pieces cleaned professionally.
Cleaning Silver With Coke
Fortunately, it is possible to easily deal with tarnishing on silver, and, of all things, using coke. Coke is an ideal cleaning substitute for cleaning chemicals for both sterling and plated silver.
The acids in the drink cut through grime or rust that has built up and can leave the pieces looking as good as new.
Step 1 – Soak the silver
Put the piece(s) in a bowl or container. Depending on the piece you are trying to clean, you may need quite a large container as it needs to be big enough to fully submerge the silver.
Pour coke into the container until the silver is fully submerged. It doesn’t matter whether you use regular or sugar free coke, either will work just as effectively.
The can or bottle of coke that you use needs to be newly opened so as much of the fizz as possible remains.
Leave the silver to soke in the coke. You should check the silver every half an hour or so to keep an eye on progress, but you may need to leave it for several hours depending on how bad the tarnishing is.
Step 2 – Cleaning
Once you are satisfied that the coke has lifted away the grime and tarnishing, you need to clean off the sticky residues.
Remove the silver from the coke, and shake off any excess liquid, before sitting the silver down on a paper towel.
Use a damp soft toothbrush to scrub away any remaining residue. As well as getting rid of any sticky residue, this will also help to deal with any loosened grime that didn’t completely lift away.
Step 3 – Rinsing and drying
Rinse the silver under clean water or soak it in a container full of water.
Once you are satisfied that all the traces of coke have been removed, shake off the excess water, before drying the silver with a paper towel.
It is crucial that you fully dry the silver before putting it away to protect the pieces from further tarnishing or rust.
If cleaning with coke wasn’t enough, or you don’t have any fizzy drinks to hand, have no fear! You can also clean silver with baking soda or foil.
Bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda) is the answer to so many cleaning problems, and it is certainly a great choice when it comes to cleaning silver. For this method, you will need bicarbonate of soda, a container big enough to hold the silver (with lid), and plenty of water.
To clean silver with bicarbonate of soda, simply:
- Fill a container with warm water
- Add 3 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to start, but you may need more if you are cleaning a large quantity of silver or using a big container. Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the water to dissolve
- Place the silver items into the container, and make sure they are fully submerged
- Put the lid on the container, and leave the solution for a few hours or overnight
- Remove the silver from the solution, and wipe clean with a gentle polishing cloth
- If you are satisfied with the clean, dry the silver completely before putting it away. If there are still stains, you can repeat the process or try another of the cleaning methods.
Aluminium foil is a popular and simple way to clean tarnished silver, especially cutlery. For this method, you will need aluminium foil, a sturdy plastic container, microfibre cloth, and boiled water.
To clean silverware with foil:
- Line the container with foil, being sure to cover the base and sides
- Wrap each individual piece with foil, making sure that it is tightly enclosed, before placing them into the container
- Fill the container with boiling water
- After five minutes, remove the silver and unwrap the foil. Be careful – the silver and foil will be extremely hot
- Clean the silver immediately with a clean microfibre cloth