Silver polish is designed to easily remove tarnish from silver. However, many commercial polishes are laden with chemically based toxins that cause health concerns and harm the environment. There are many nontoxic household products suitable for cleaning and polishing silver such as baking soda and toothpaste. Even warm soapy water may be a viable solution for sterling silver when washed often and buffed with a 100 percent cotton cloth.
Baking Soda, Aluminum Foil and Salt
Baking soda is a chemical-free natural product used for many household cleaning chores. When baking soda is combined with aluminum foil and salt, it makes an alternative to silver polish. A chemical reaction occurs when a pan is lined with aluminum foil, boiling water and 1 teaspoon each of salt and baking soda. Silver may be immersed into the solution and soaked for approximately five minutes. The tarnish lifts from the silver naturally without the need to scrub. A warm water rinse and a soft cloth buffs a shine back onto the silver.
Toothpaste puts a shine on your teeth and on your silver. Plain white toothpaste without whitening properties should be spread onto a damp sponge or soft dampened cloth. Tarnish should easily lift from silver pieces when toothpaste is rubbed gently in a back and forth motion. Toothpaste may also be placed directly onto the silver and rubbed gently with a soft cloth.
Silver should be rinsed with warm water and buffed dry with a soft cloth. Deep crevices may be polished with a soft bristled toothbrush that is wet with warm water.
Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda can remove stubborn tarnish on silver when combined with enough hot water to make a paste. A soft cloth made from 100 percent cotton is the best alternative for polishing silver with a baking soda paste. Tarnish lifts from silver pieces when the baking sodas paste is rubbed gently in a back-and-forth motion. However, a close eye should be kept on silver for any scratching. If scratches occur during polishing, it should be stopped immediately and silver should be rinsed and dried. Paper towels should never be used to buff silver as scratching may occur.
Soft drinks contain natural acids that dissolve tarnish from silver. Silver may be dipped into a cup filled with Seven Up or Coca Cola. The acids gently soften and dissolve the tarnish without damaging the silver. A soft cloth should be used to buff silver.