Clean Tarnished Silver Jewelry

Elena Zharina.

If you’ve worn silver jewelry, you know how tarnished it can get in a very short time. We all know about silver polish, but few people are aware that polishing actually scrubs some silver off the surface of your treasured necklace or ring.

It can be especially detrimental for silver-plated pieces, where the layer of silver may not be very thick. Another problem with using silver polish to clean jewelry is that it can be hard clean all the nooks and crannies in your jewelry.

We have good news for you: We are about to share an easy method for returning the glow to your silver jewelry without causing any damage to it. Even better, you can use this silver cleaning method right after you finish reading this article!

Tarnished silver ring, before and after cleaning

The Ingredients You’ll Need

  • water
  • salt
  • an aluminum plate (you can substitute aluminum foil)
  • water softener powder (you can substitute baking soda).


1. Take an aluminum plate (or a regular plate covered with a piece of foil).

2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of water softener powder (or baking soda).

3. Then pour some hot (but not boiling) water onto the plate.

4. Stir to dissolve the powders.

5. Now you can dunk your silver in the solution.

How long do you need to keep your silver in the solution? The results may be immediate, or they may take a few minutes. However, if an item is very tarnished, this cleaning method will not make your jewelry perfectly clean and looking like new. Additional polishing will still be needed.


We do NOT recommend this cleaning method for jewelry that has precious or semi-precious stones. Though after a little research we discovered that a lot of people (including silversmiths) have used this method for cleaning gemstone jewelry with no ill effect, we don’t think it’s worth the risk of damaging your stones.

Also, be aware that this method is NOT good for antiqued (oxidized) silver, as cleaning will remove the antiqued finish on the silver along with the tarnish.

For vintage or valuable jewelry, check with a professional jeweler first.

This method is also NOT recommended for costume jewelry, or any jewelry of which you don’t know what kind of metal it contains.

And as with any do-it-yourself procedure, there are no guarantees of the results you will get.

If possible, first do a test run on a small scrap or hidden area of your item. Then you can see how the technique will (or won’t) work on the sample, without ruining your actual piece. Another benefit of doing the test run on a hidden area first – you’ll probably discover some things about the technique that will help you get better results when you do the technique on your item.

How It Works

If you are interested in chemistry, here is what is going on when your silver jewelry is taking this little “bath”:

Silver sulfide is the stuff that makes your silver look grayish over time. This process is called oxidation. When immersed in the baking soda/salt solution, the aluminum reacts with the silver sulfide, pulling the sulphur atoms out and “plating” them onto the aluminum as aluminum sulfide. The silver that remains from the reaction is redeposited onto the silver.

Elena Zharina

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  • Elena says:

    WOW!!! This method looks so easy, I will try it asap, does it works for copper too???

  • Pam says:

    I had not heard of the fabric – this could really be helpful! Last year I invested in a bunch of black and white neckform displays, and it is so great to be able to just leave my pendants right on them between shows, saves tons of setup time!

    I also have one of those aluminum wheeled cases that holds a bunch of stackable black plastic display trays. (Best thing I ever got, by the way! Can use for storage, display, transport and also I use these trays to hold my merchandise bags and tissue!) Now that you’ve told us about the fabric, I’m thinking of cutting some of this to fit each tray, as well! Some have velvet liners, but this could lay right over that during storage.

    I’ve been storing the “loaded” neckform displays in between weekend shows by wrapping each in a sleeve of bubble wrap (the ones the neckforms came in) and standing them together (think a row of dominoes) in a plastic bin. Now I’m thinking of making little “pillowcase” sleeves from this fabric to slip over each neckform instead. Maybe not even need to sew – could seal the side seams with narrow strips of duct tape! Will probably still need to swipe pieces with Sunshine cloth occasionally at shows, since many shows are outdoors near main roads with their sulfur air – but this would at least keep everything shiny longer while in storage during the time between shows. At year-end, I unload everything and each piece goes into a ziploc with a little square of the anti-tarnish paper.

    On the subject of tarnish, this was a big problem when I once has some of my pieces in a hair salon. Even though they were not displayed right in the styling area, (so sticky hair spray residue was not so much a problem) – the chemicals in the perm/color products tarnished everything very quickly. This can be a super venue for sales, as ladies treating themselves to a “day of beauty” are open to adding a pair of pretty dangles at checkout – but if I ever do it again, I’ll be including a closed glass container with some sort of tarnish protecting measures!

  • Michelle says:

    Great info. I would like to share this information with my online customers via Facebook. Would that be okay with you?

  • Sabrina says:

    Need information of how to tell if jewelery is antiqued/oxidized.

  • Billie Jean says:

    I have several really big bags of the tarnish bags like the ones you would put in with your silver jewelry. Is there any way to break these large bags down into individual small bags to be used? Can I use plastic baggies or would I have to use a material source? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.
    thanks ladies

  • Diane Robie says:

    Great ideas…thanks. Have a toothbrush (soft bristles) available for all those crevices. I use toothpaste with the toothbrush which works wonders on all the tarnished sterling. Put some warm water in the bathroom sink, scrub the item, rinse it and lay it on a terry cloth facecloth. When finished with all the pieces use your hairblower, on warm, to dry them. Have used this method with pieces that have freshwater pearls and have not had any problems. I dry them ASAP, maybe that’s why.

  • Honora Dulce S. Cortes says:

    Hi there,
    That was very helpful. I will try that with my silver jewelries. Thanks for sharing.
    All the best,

  • Marie says:

    I recently tried cleaning some of my silver jewelry with store bought cleaner and it turned my silver into this horrible greyish-black color. I thought I had ruined it forever. Last week I stumbled upon this site with this recipe for silver cleaner. I went home and made it to specifications and dropped my damaged items in. After about 3-4 minutes I pulled one out. It was amazing! I could not believe that this simple little recipe could undo all the damage the other cleaner created. I will never use anything else to clean my silver.

    Thank you so much for posting this miracle cleaner!

  • Leslie Schmidt says:

    Marie: What is the is recipe you used? I have some silver spacers and headpins made up in my jewelry designs and they won’t come clean, just stay black, even with use with jewelry cleaner in my ultrasonic cleaner (which is amazing, cleans copper and gold beautifully!!!) I recently purchased on for $40.

  • LaToya says:

    This system works great! After forgetting to take off my rings while relaxing my daughters hair, my silver rings turned black. After reading this website I tried this recipe within 10 min my silver rings were back. Thank you so much for this info, I was going to spend a lot of unnecessary money before I found this website.

  • sherry ennis says:

    I have a pair of green chalcedony earring set in silver and I noticed black splotches on the stone. I assume its tarnish . I tried buffing with a rouge cloth and baking soda to no avail. Any suggestions?

  • Penny says:

    Just cleaned my silver in a matter of seconds. Thank you!

  • sharon says:

    Toothpaste has abrasive qualities to it and can create tiny scratches not seen by the naked eye. I would be careful using it on any fine jewelry.

  • jorain says:

    I worked for me. Add 1/2 tbsp of vinegar. The results will be more awesome!

  • Danielle says:

    Wow! One of my silver necklaces was slightly tarnished so I tried this method. It became blackish grey after a few minutes, which greatly alarmed me, but after a gentle rub with a cloth the necklace was clean and shiny as new! Amazing!

  • Beckie says:

    I have to say, this recipe and solution is absolutely fantastic!! I had several pieces, one that has been sitting in my jewelry box for over 30 years. I mixed the solution in a glass pie plate covered in aluminum foil. The results amazed me! I actually watched a couple pieces start to bubble when I put them in the pie plate solution. I am so happy with the results on all the pieces I cleaned!!
    I did put pieces in the solution with pearls and small jewels, including precious stones with no damage to them.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and solution to tarnished silver jewelry. Unbelievably simple and easy!! πŸ™‚

  • Irica Lois says:

    i was really hopeless when I tarnished my silver bracelet that’s a gift from my aunt . and I searched on the net on how to clean a jewelry and found this cool website and yeah ! it did worked THANK YOU SO MUCH :*

  • symone says:

    I just finished relaxing my hair and noticed my ring was dark brown. I panicked, I stumbled across this article I tried it and it worked.. Thank you

  • Michel says:

    This is amazing and WORKS !! I had everything required but the ‘ baking soda ‘ ,, gave it a shot ,, Just used a small foil pan ( I keep several on hand , purchased @ your local $$ Store ) since you wouldn’t wish to use anything you’ll ever put food in … Tada !! πŸ™‚

  • Lee Meng See says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. It works wonders and my silver necklace is back to its shine.

  • jemma says:

    amazing i have tried so many ways to clean some old charms and this did the job thanx

  • Veronica says:

    Is there an easy way to clean the silver that hangs on pieces that are semi precious or coral? Also I like the idea of storing everything under the cloth, or with the strips, but will this also be a problem if the silver is on semi precious stones and coral?

  • Gracey says:

    Hello. Ive been directed to this website because i too have been looking for ways to clean silver.Ive got a beautiful silver ring, which ive had for 3 years now, with a continuous strip of welsh rose gold wrapped around the silver in a delicate ivy pattern which has lots of little nooks and crannies showing through to the silver.Ive found it impossible to get into these spaces even using premium jewellery cleaners with a toothbrush. Ive used your method and all i can say is “Remarkable”.Its come up like a new penny and looks as good now as when i first purchased it.This is THE only method i will ever use from now. I am beyond delighted. Thankyou many many times.

  • Hello. Does this work on silver plated jewellery? We sell a lot of silver plated and it would be ideal if we can send our customers to your page for the cleaning info if it’s ok to use on silver plated πŸ™‚

  • Kay Harris says:

    Thank you, just tried this on my most loved silver plated ring with amethyst and quartz stones. After a few minutes and bit of a rub, it has come up like new. I just lined a teacup with aluminium foil. With no harsh, expensive cleaning chemicals. Great.

  • Linda Rea says:

    Just tried this….WOW! Instantly clean and my semi precious stones are sparkling!

  • Carol Hustwitt says:

    After reading on jewellery making journal web page how to clean tarnished silver jewellery using salt, baking soda and hot water, i had nothing to lose! Two of my best and favourite silver bracelets were ruined. I had dipped them in a high street cleaning solution, for silver, and forgot about them…
    An hour or so nlater i remembered and found them to be black, green and brass in coulour. I was devastated abd was in search of a good jewellr inh the area when I googled my roblem. Low and behold this method does honestly work. My bracelets are restored to new and looking fab. It has cost me nothiing either!!! VERY PLEASED INDEED!!! Thank you very much. I will spread the good news!!!

  • Christina says:

    Thank you Thank you….. Without this I would have thought I ruined my spouses necklace and pendant that means the world too him…….. It killed me when after 3 minutes in the dipping solution that it came out the way it did. I dumped that stuff and will never touch again!!!!!!!!!! Now the pieces look better than before!!!!!!

  • Amanda says:

    My rings were black as I got cooling fluid on them, I thought they were ruined! Tried this method and after about 4 minutes it worked! Amazing! Thank you!

  • Nicole says:

    …Tried it. It didn’t work. My beloved necklace is still tarnished.

  • Savanna-Skye says:

    Again, was alarmed at the darker color at first, but then took a soft cloth to ALL of my silver jewelry and it looks like new. ALL OF IT! What a wonderful little recipe!

  • H Turnbull says:

    A million thanks for sharing this technique. My silver necklaces were not just tarnished but black. I had not worn my silver necklaces in years because of the tarnish, now I can wear them again. All done in seconds and with things I already had in the cupboard. Big thanks. Helen Turnbull, Barcelona.

  • Jill says:

    Just cleaned my silver necklace and earrings using this method
    Amazing results

  • stephanie says:

    Can I use baking powder instead?

  • Hi Stephanie, thanks for asking! Baking powder won’t have the same effect as baking soda. But fortunately, baking soda is pretty cheap and widely available in grocery stores!

  • Jan Rautio says:

    I used a worn out facial scrub brush, which did the trick! Bristles are very fine and soft, and shouldn’t scratch or harm metals.

  • lisa almond says:

    Hi is mixture safe to use on vermeil jewellery??? Thank you in advance regards Lisa almond

  • Hi Lisa! That’s a good question. I have not used this procedure on vermeil, so I don’t know what the results might be. If you have a small piece of vermeil that isn’t important to you, you could use it as a tester before going ahead with this procedure on the piece of jewelry that matters to you.

  • celmontia says:

    hi people what is baking soda i dont understand that

  • Hi Celmontia, baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate.

  • Mj says:

    Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, is a common leavening agent widely used in baked goods, and is available in boxes for about 50 cents in any grocery store or dollar store in either the baking section or laundry section. It can also be used to scour bathroom fixtures and sinks instead of cleanser. It is a good water softener and can be used in the washing machine, where it will whiten or remove odors. It can be made into a paste for bee stings, or sprinkled in the bathtub as a muscle soak for sore muscles. You can dump a cup of it in each drain and follow that with a cup of vinegar to clean and deodorize the sink or tub drain.
    The recipe on this site does not state how much water to use. That could make a big difference in the effectiveness of the process.

  • Amio says:

    This worked great for me. Worked within seconds.

  • Mindy says:

    This remedy is awesome!!! A few years ago I went to the beach, played into he sand and a little inside the water, but it wasn’t until I got home days later that I noticed my rings were so much more shinier and looked cleaner… Salt water does a lot!!! And that baking soda just added a dash of perfection!!!

  • lady t says:

    I used baking powder then i realize it should have been baking soda, the baking power worked better then the baking soda. My husband asked me if I could clean his cross necklace, and when I gave it back to him he said, WOW!!! It looks as good as the day he brought it. the baking power with the other ingredients is awesome.

  • Julie says:

    Just trying this method of cleaning my silver bangle, I was stupid enough to put it in Cilit Bang to clean it, it tarnished it really bad, and as it was a present of my daughter I was well and truly gutted, the method seems to be getting some of the black off. I just hope it returns to something like it used to be.

  • Carol Burton says:

    I just purchased a sterling silver piece wire wrapped around an abalone shell. The store owner said to use a polishing cloth instead of silver cleaner. I have used silver cleaner before, and it shined the piece at the same time as dulling it. It really turns the shiny silver into a dull kind of gray color. I’m all for learning safer ways of polishing silver. Thank you, Rena!

  • Elaine Lowe says:

    WOW!!!! Thank-you so much I thought that was it,my silver jewellery was ruined and I’d have to bin it!!!
    Such an easy no fuss repair!!!
    Very clever!!!
    You have made me so happy ,you have no idea how much πŸ˜€ xx

  • Josseline says:

    Oh, what a great idea! But can I clean this way a vintage amber ring? I have that beautiful vintage silver ring with a large blood red amber on it and I’ve never cleaned it, because I’ve worm it few times only. Should I try cleaning it your way, or is it better to take it to a professional? Greets!

  • Hi josseline, for cleaning your vintage ring, I would ask a professional jeweler first. I wouldn’t take any chances with it! πŸ™‚

  • Josseline says:

    Thank you for the advice Rena. Love your jewelry tutorials πŸ™‚

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