How to Clean Silver That Is Discolored by Salt Water

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Salt water is good for cooking pasta, for cleaning infections and for use as a cleaning agent. However, when objects made of sterling silver are left in salt water for a prolonged period of time, they can end up discolored or otherwise damaged. This is true for other kinds of jewelry too. The salt can also erode silver, platinum and gold elements, weakening the metal and causing jewelry and other items to break.

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Sterling Silver in Salt Water

It's no secret that salt can be corrosive. Worse still, it can also leave a residue on jewelry or make it appear discolored or tarnished. Experts recommend removing sterling silver jewelry before going into the ocean and keeping it out of salt water in general. As an added reason for removal at the beach, flashing silver jewelry can resemble fish scales, which could attract the attention of a shark (however unlikely that scenario may be).

Water can also cause silver to darken or oxidize more quickly than it would normally. Also, know that cold water makes the wearer's fingers shrink, and that in turn increases the chances of a ring slipping off.

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Besides all this, sand can also damage jewelry by scratching it. Though sterling silver certainly looks good when worn on the beach, it is best to take it off when taking a plunge into the ocean.

Cleaning Discolored Silver

Sterling silver contains approximately 7.5 percent copper, which is what causes it to tarnish. There are a few homemade remedies for removing the discoloration, many of which involve items you likely already have at home. First, you can combine two parts baking soda (or cornstarch) to one part water in a small container and mix it into a paste. Use your fingers to rub this mixture right onto the jewelry and then give it a few minutes to dry. Rinse the piece with clean water and then dry and polish with a microfiber cloth or a soft towel.

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Another baking-soda-based sterling silver cleaner involves combing 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Allow your pieces to rest in this mixture for about two to three hours and then rinse them off and polish them. Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Dip a soft cloth into this mixture and use it to rub the silver until the tarnish is gone.

Toothpaste can also be used to remove sterling silver discoloration. Add just a bit of nonwhitening toothpaste to a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently rub off the discoloration on your accessories. Rinse the silver right away and dry it with a soft cloth afterward. Do not clean silver-plated items with toothpaste because it can damage the finish. If you would prefer a professional approach to your jewelry, you can find many products for sale that clean silver jewelry.

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Everyday Jewelry Care

Who doesn't like a little more sparkle when it comes to accessories? It doesn't require much effort to keep all kinds of jewelry looking bright and shiny. Get a clean container, add a couple drops of liquid dish soap and fill it with warm water. Mix it (or shake it if the container has a lid) and let the jewelry soak for 10 minutes or so.

Remove the jewelry one piece at a time and clean gently each piece with a toothbrush or other small, soft-bristled brush. Rinse the accessories in warm water (plug the drain first if you are doing so in a sink) and dry with a microfiber towel or silver cloth. Avoid paper towels because they can scratch delicate pieces.

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