How to Clean Silver With Sulfuric Acid

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Silver household items require a specific cleaning process.
Silver household items require a specific cleaning process. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Some of the most common household items made out of silver are jewelry, silverware and coins. If you have any of these items, cleaning them will eventually become necessary. Over time, silver items tend to tarnish and build up a layer of residue that blocks the silver’s natural luster and sheen. One way to get this luster back again is to clean the silver with sulfuric acid.

Things You'll Need

  • Acid-resistant gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Face mask
  • Glass container
  • Water
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Stiff brush

Put on acid-resistant gloves. Never let the sulfuric acid touch your skin directly. You should also wear safety goggles and a face mask. Only work with the sulfuric acid in a well-ventilated area.

Start a cleaning solution of sulfuric acid in water. The sulfuric acid should only be 2 percent of the solution. Pour the water into a glass container. For most silver items, 25 oz. of water and 1/2 oz. of sulfuric acid will be enough.

Add the sulfuric acid to the container by pouring it in steadily. Only add a drop or two at a time.

Place the silver item you’re cleaning into the diluted sulfuric acid.

Remove the silver item a few times an hour over the course of three hours. Rinse it off, and brush it with a stiff brush to remove residue. Place it back into the sulfuric acid. After the three hours, the silver should look shiny and new.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never pour water into sulfuric acid. You must pour the sulfuric acid into the water or you risk a dangerous reaction. Pour it as slowly and carefully as you can.

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