How to Clean Silver

I haven't talked to anyone who likes to clean silver, although I am sure there are some folks out there who do.

I want to clean it with as little effort as possible. This excludes sand & salt and "silver pastes."

I want it to be easy. Here are two ways to go.

1. Tarn-X; or Noxon. Buy this at the grocery store, a hardware store, a home improvement store, etc.

2. Baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil. Can't beat this for the price. What happens is that the sulfur in the tarnish is attracted more to aluminum than silver. This solution will not harm your silver! This is also heavy-duty stuff, so don't forget the hand lotion!


Silver is a wonderful conductor of heat! Use tongs with nylon/silicone tips to lift stuff out.

Remove ALL wax and "candle clay" from the "cups" of your candlesticks. If you don't, when it melts you'll have wax/goo all over everything else. (Ask how I found this out.) Do candlesticks last. These days, I do the "cup" parts of the candelabras with Tarn-X and the stem/base with the baking soda solution, just to make certain there are no bits of wax/clay lurking. Tighten candles in "cups" with 1/8"-wide strips of paper towels, wrapping one or two (or more!) strips around base of candle to make it stand straight.

I do the tray of my tea service with Tarn-X because it is too large for my chili pot and kitchen sink, and I don't want to use my bathtub (tote multiple containers of boiling water to bathroom). I do the rest of the tea service with the baking soda bath.

Be careful with silver-plated items (they will be marked "silver-plated," "plated," or something like this. Pure silver is marked "sterling." In silver-plated items, the layer of silver is quite thin. If your pieces remain "tarnished" and they are not marked "sterling," you will have to have the pieces re-plated. The silver is gone. Sorry.

No matter which method you select, have plenty of tea towels on hand for drying! Any left-over water will show later as streaks and circles.

Always finish with hand lotion. Your hands will be very dry. You also could try rubber gloves (and I have done this), but I like the control that I have with bare hands because I don't want to drop anything and dent it.

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Last updated June 21, 2012.