Sterling silver jewelry is prone to tarnish and dulling. Light and air exposure leads to tarnish, but so can the oils on your skin or other chemicals the silver comes in contact with. Silver is a soft metal, so cleaning must be done carefully to prevent scratching and dulling of its surface. With proper cleaning and polishing, sterling regains its luster and shine. Proper storage helps prevent further tarnishing on the piece when you aren't wearing it.
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Rub a mild dish soap onto the surface of the sterling silver jewelry with your finger. For stubborn dirt, rub the soap on with a piece of jewelry cleaning felt or cloth.
Rinse the soap off the silver with cool water. Continue to rinse until the water beads up on the surface of the silver, which demonstrates that the soap is completely removed.
Rub a small amount of silver cleaner or a nongel toothpaste onto heavily tarnished areas with the cleaning cloth. Buff out the tarnish with the cloth, then rinse the cleaner or toothpaste from the silver's surface.
Rub the silver dry with the cloth. Use a circular motion as you rub to help shine the silver piece.
Wrap the silver jewelry in a piece of soft cloth or felt. Place it in a closed box where it isn't exposed to light and air to help prevent further tarnish.
Cleaning felt is available from most jewelry stores.
Consult with a jeweler before cleaning silver jewelry with stones or gems set in it, as typical silver cleaners could damage the stones.
Do not use a toothbrush or an abrasive cloth on silver. Abrasives make small scratches in the silver which eventually dulls its surface.