How to Remove Stubborn Tarnish

Tarnished silver objects are visibly unattractive.
Tarnished silver objects are visibly unattractive. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Valued for its exquisite physical properties and durability, silver is an attractive metal favored around the world. Silver is commonly used for jewelry, cutlery, ornamental décor, coins and many other items. Although silver resists corrosion, it tarnishes when exposed to sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide. Egg yolks, latex and salt also tarnish silver. Tarnish begins as a yellowish tinge and gradually darkens until the silver blackens. Neglecting to remove tarnish regularly allows it to accumulate and thus makes it harder to remove over time. Remove stubborn tarnish from silver using basic supplies.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft sponge or cloth
  • Mildly abrasive silver polish
  • Terrycloth towel

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Rinse the tarnished silver object thoroughly with water. Flush off any loose dust or dirt. Do not dry the silver object.

Moisten a soft sponge or cloth with water. Dip the moistened sponge or cloth into mildly abrasive silver polish.

Rub the silver polish over the tarnished area using back-and-forth motions. Follow the polish manufacturer’s directions precisely. Always apply the polish using a clean section of the sponge or cloth to prevent reapplying tarnish to the silver.

Continue rubbing polish onto the silver until no more tarnish remains on the object.

Rinse the silver object thoroughly under warm running water until it is free of any polish residue.

Buff the silver object with a terrycloth towel until the silver shines.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never use polishes intended for stainless steel or chrome on silver.
  • Never use toothpaste to polish silver.
  • Never use scouring pads or steel wool on silver.


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