How to Polish Tarnished Silver

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Jewelry, utensils, platters and other silver items need polishing every once in a while. The dull, grey film that forms on your once-shiny silver is called tarnish. Tarnish is a chemical reaction that occurs when the silver is exposed to sulfur. Tarnish takes away from silver's original beauty, but you can remove it using a few household products.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pan
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Tongs
  • 2 soft cloths
  • Wash silver item in mild soap and water.

  • Line the bottom of a pan with aluminum foil. The pan must be big enough to hold the item.

  • Add water to the pan so that the item will be covered by the water, but do not put the item in the pan yet.

  • Add baking soda to the pan. For a small piece of silver, use two tbsp. For larger items that require at least a gallon of water to soak, add one to two cups of baking soda.

  • Heat the water and baking soda mixture until it boils. Remove the pan from the burner as soon as the mixture boils.

  • Place the silver item in the pan, making sure it rests on the aluminum foil. Allow the item to soak until it looks clean.

  • Remove the item from the pan using tongs and rinse off remaining baking soda. Dry and buff any remaining spots with a soft, clean cloth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves while handling your silver. The Society of American Silversmiths specifically recommends untreated cotton gloves or well-fitting nitrile gloves. Using your bare hands can cause tarnish to form on your silver.
  • If your silver item is too large to fit into a pan, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the item with a sponge or rag. Let the paste sit for up to an hour and rinse with hot water.
  • Use caution when removing the silver from the pan. The water may still be very hot.
  • Be careful not to scratch your silver when placing it in the plan. Making sure the silver touches the aluminum foil will not only help remove the tarnish, it also helps protect your silver.

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