How to Clean Silver That Is Discolored by Salt Water

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Things You'll Need

  • Ammonia

  • Silver wash or baking soda

  • Soft polishing cloth

  • Silver polish

  • Nitrile gloves

Clean salt damage from silver

Silver used in home decorations and dining ware, whether sterling or plated silver, must be given special care to keep it in good condition. Some silver pieces, such as decorative antique silver, are considered more attractive if they have a certain amount of discoloration or tarnish. Tarnish develops on silver when it is exposed to air. Certain environments, such as areas with high humidity, will cause silver pieces to tarnish more quickly than those pieces stored in a dry environment. Some foods and chemicals, particularly salty or acidic foods, can rapidly pit and corrode silver. Extremely salty foods should never be served in silver.

Step 1

Soak any silver that has been damaged by salt or salt water in ammonia for 10 minutes. Wear nitrile protective gloves while cleaning the silver. Perform the cleaning in a well-ventilated area.

Step 2

Remove the silver piece from the ammonia bath and examine it. If the piece still has signs of corrosion, repeat the soaking process for another 10 minutes. Soak the piece no more than 30 minutes overall.

Step 3

Rinse the silver piece being cleaned in cool water.

Step 4

Clean the silver with a mild cleanser, such as a baking soda/water paste or a commercially available silver wash, to remove any gray discoloration from the ammonia cleaning.

Step 5

Use silver polish and a soft cloth to restore the silver pieces' luster and prevent future tarnish.


If the above process is not effective in cleaning the silver satins, take the piece to a professional silversmith for repair and cleaning.

Wear nitrile gloves when handling cleaning products used on silver or cotton gloves when polishing silver. Never wear rubber gloves as rubber will seriously damage silver.


Never wash silver in the dishwasher or allow silver pieces to come in contact with stainless steel. Both of these actions could badly damage or ruin a silver piece.

Do not use harsh abrasives or scouring pads to clean silver as they will scratch and damage silver.

Never use ammonia in a closed room. Concentrated ammonia frames are dangerous and could cause illness.