Clean Your Silver with Household Basics

Sparkling clean silver is a delight on any table. Even better is knowing you didn’t use any harsh, toxic chemicals to get it that way.

The secrets of silver cleaning using household basics may surprise you, but the techniques are easy, tried, and true!

If you have a small job, the best silver polish is white tooth paste. Dab some on your finger, and rub into the tarnish.

For bigger pieces, use baking soda and a clean, damp sponge. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Scoop the paste onto the sponge, and rub the paste into the silver. Rinse with hot water and polish dry with a soft, clean cloth.

For badly tarnished silver, leave the baking soda paste on the silver for an hour or so, before cleaning off with the help of the sponge and hot water.

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By Annie B. Bond


Jeffrey Herman
Jeffrey Herman8 months ago

I'm sorry, folks, I made a mistake.

I was talking about the aluminum foil and baking soda technique. The methods mentioned in the article involve using baking soda and toothpaste to remove tarnish. Both are like using sand paper. Will it remove tarnish quickly? YOU BET! That's because they're so abrasive.

About me...

I started my business in 1984, and have built this business on an international reputation of quality craftsmanship with a special sensitivity towards the finishing of every piece. I have repaired, reconstructed, and hand polished everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged and dishwasher-dulled flatware.

As an environmentalist, I use the safest, non-toxic, organic products available. My workshop is state-of-the-art in safety and cleanliness.

I began my life as a silversmith in 1976 while in high school, taking night courses at Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth). I went on to earn a BFA degree in silversmithing and jewelry making from Maine College of Art where I studied under Harold Schremmer and Ernest Thompson - two outstanding designer/craftsmen. Upon graduating, I was hired by Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator. When I left Gorham, I took a position at Pilz Ltd. where I created ecclesiastical ware and learned the fine art of restoration.

In 1989 I founded the Society of American Silversmiths to preserve and promote this beautiful art form

Jeffrey Herman
Jeffrey Herman8 months ago


If you were going to purchase a car, who's advice would you trust, an accountant or your mechanic with 30-year's experience? The same is true with silver care – you would consult a silver conservator with over 30-year's experience. You may not think that method will harm your silver, but I know It WILL etch your silver's surface.

Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell8 months ago

Thanks for sharing with us this simple DIY solution that is non-toxic and easy to make. Furthermore, it does not cost a single cent since most of the tools and ingredients can easily be found in your kitchen. I have some antique jewellery that needs to be cleaned to bring back its original shine but not damage its coat. I think this mild home solution would definitely do the trick.

Jeffrey Herman
Jeffrey Herman2 years ago

Hello Eleonora,

Sorry for the long wait, I haven't been monitoring this site.

As long as the baby brush is a natural material (horsehair or natural white boar bristle), and used with diluted phosphate-free, non-lemon scented dishwashing soap, there won't be a problem. But I believe most baby hairbrushes are made of nylon, which will scratch.

Any other questions can probably be answered on om Silver Care page.

Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora Oldani2 years ago

To Jeffrey - congratulations; your site looks great - it must be artistically and professionally very rewarding! Wish you'd be here (Egypt) as I have a number of old pieces which got handed down from generation to generation. Every now and then I give them to a trusted silversmith/shop and they come out sparkling. Naturally I don't know what they're doing to them but it seems alright. Here they tend to still use old methods of cleaning.

As for the "past member" who posted the jewelry site: I've learned (again here in Egypt by an old jewelry maker) that the best to clean gold jewelry with is warm water with some liquid detergent, soak the jewelry and then brush them with a soft baby hairbrush. It gives it a beautiful sparkle especially also to the diamonds. And I had given mine for years to jewelers who cleaned it for a lot of money ... :-(.

Now I wonder if Jeffrey has any comment on this method?

Justingaberial J.
Past Member 2 years ago

I got this blog site through my friends and when I searched this really there were informative articles at the place.
jewelry cleaning

Monica May
Monica May3 years ago


Jeffrey Herman
Jeffrey Herman3 years ago

For many years I have viewed numerous online videos demonstrating harmful silver polishing techniques. Do not trust everything you see online regarding silver care!

Some of these videos, produced by well-intentioned but ill-informed individuals, show the use of horribly abrasive products such as Nevr-Dull, toothpaste, or baking soda. Some advocate the use of the toxic product Tarn-X which, although not abrasive, will remove factory-applied patinas, and will actually promote the formation of tarnish. The aluminum foil technique (in which the user is encouraged to soak silver in water containing baking soda and a piece of aluminum foil) will also allow tarnish to form more quickly. Also, many videos say that it's okay to put silver in your dishwasher – that's not true!

The most destructive polishing video on the Web can be found here. Why you ask? Because every bit of instruction presented is irresponsible and will ruin your silver using some of the most abrasive products and techniques. Tarn-X not only removes silver, patina, and is toxic, but will also allow tarnish to form more quickly. Silver polish applied with a brush? Really? Do you want to put deep scratches in your silver, remove all natural and factory-applied patina, and remove your silverplating in 30 seconds?

I have spent 28 years testing products and researching the subject of silver care. With proper care

Jeffrey Herman
Jeffrey Herman3 years ago

Sorry, my Silver Care Guide can be found here:

Jeffrey Herman
Jeffrey Herman3 years ago

I don't believe anyone here understands what I do for a living. I've done all the research and practice what I preach. I'm a silver restoration, conservation, and preservationist with almost 30 years of experience. Most of what you're reading on the Web is bogus information provided by people who don't have nearly the experience that I do. They post cleaning instructions they've found on sites that are recirculated. If you have no interest in following my carefully prepared guidelines for silver care, you may do irreparable harm to your valuables. Do yourself a favor, not a disservice, by visiting my Silver Care Guide today: