The Green Life

How To Clean Silver Quickly & Naturally

Every spring I like to use my grandmother’s teapots as centerpieces on the dining room table.  But I never like cleaning silver because I have flashbacks of Grandmother buying every expensive formula & cloth combo known to man that was “GUARANTEED to quickly & easily clean the tarnish from your silver”.

I have a confession…  Every spring I use my teapots & every fall I store them away without cleaning them.  Yep, I put them right in the cabinet tarnished & all.  Sometimes I put them back in their cloth bags, sometimes not.  Lazy?  Yep.  But sometimes I just don’t feel like cleaning them.  Well today I pulled them out because it’s WAY past the start of spring & because I’m not that lazy.  Honestly cleaning silver is not that hard.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive.

This is some seriously tarnished silver!

Here’s 2 ways I clean silver quickly & naturally with things I already have around the house.

Which method I choose depends on how I’m feeling & how much time/work I want to put into it.

* Note: before using these techniques make sure your piece is pure silver.  How can you tell?  Flip it over & look on the back.  It should say if it is or not.  It should also have the manufacturer which you can use to research the piece to be sure.

How to Clean Silver Naturally with toothpaste:

This one is simple enough.

Tools:

  • a tube of non-gel toothpaste – I used Colgate Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening because that’s what we have.
  • a few paper towels
  • water
  • a soft rag

The process:

  1. squeeze the toothpaste directly onto the silver or onto a paper towel
  2. rub the toothpaste onto (not into) – the silver.  You want there to be a layer of toothpaste on the silver
  3. let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes
  4. TEST:
    • grab a new paper towel, dampen it & rub a small section of the toothpaste into the silver in a circular motion.
    • get another dry paper towel & wipe away the area to test how much tarnish has come off & whether you need to leave the toothpaste on longer
    • if you are not satisfied with the results yet, leave the toothpaste on in 5 minute increments. I have no idea how long is too long or if it will damage the silver after a period of time so be careful with this part.  I’ve left it on for up to an hour without any problems.
  5. Once you are satisfied with your spot test, repeat the 1st 2 steps under the “TEST” section above.

The Results:

Here are the type of results you can expect to see using the toothpaste method:

BIG difference huh?!

Pros & Cons

Pros: Easy, cheap, very effective

Cons: Time consuming, a little boring

 

How to Clean Silver Naturally with baking soda:

 

Now this is my preferred lazy girl method.  The longest part is waiting for the water to boil.  The hardest part is making sure the water doesn’t overflow.

Tools:

  • a pot large enough for whatever piece you are cleaning.  The kitchen sink works too but I’ll tell you why I don’t prefer the sink later
  • aluminum foil
  • a few paper towels
  • water
  • baking soda
  • a soft rag

The process:

  1. put aluminum foil in the bottom of the pot (or sink) with enough to come up at least 2 sides
  2. fill the pot with water & bring it to a boil.  Leave a few inches at the top so it doesn’t boil over.  This will be really important in the next steps
  3. after the water boils, turn it off & add a handful of baking soda to the bottom.  The water will bubble up quite a bit so do this slowly
  4. then put your silver piece into the pot as far down as you can & add another handful of baking soda on top or around it (if it’s not fully immersed)
  5. there is no “TEST” in this method.  You can actually see the magic happening
  6. If the silver you are cleaning is too big to fit in the pot or sink, flip it over & repeat the process for the other half.
  7. When it’s all done, use an oven mitt to take it out of the pot & rinse under warm water.
  8. Take a soft cloth – I used an old towel/rag – and rub the piece dry.  I say “rub” because at this point I am shining it up, not just drying it.
  9. Extra step:  if you end up with a spot or 2 that didn’t come out as you like, spot clean with the toothpaste method from above.

The Results:

Here are the type of results you can expect to see using the baking soda method:

AMAZING, huh?!

Pros & Cons

Pros: Easy, cheap, very effective, super quick & kinda exciting to watch!

Cons: It uses a boatload of water, which is why I don’t like to do it in the sink.  The water has to be boiling hot so you can’t just use hot tap water.  Who the heck has time to boil sinkfulls of water?  NOT me.  So… pot method it is! 😉

 

In the end my method of choice to clean silver quickly & naturally is the boil in pot + toothpaste spot clean method! The entire process took about 10-15 minutes (not including waiting for the water to boil).

Just have a look at my final results – brace yourself, it will blow. Your. Mind.


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4 Comments

  • Kenyatta

    I’m so with you on cleaning metals. I have some brass candlesticks I’m looking at right now that need to be cleaned, but ugh I just don’t feel like it. I wonder if this menthod would work.

    • N'Ckyola

      Hi Tom. For the most part I don’t mind it, but my Grandmother doesn’t appreciate it much. 😉
      It’s also not the best look for formal dinners or when they are actually being used for ice water.

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