When is the last time you polished your silverware? Chances are that nearly all of it may need a good polishing. Every time you use it or even if it sits around gathering dust, over time it can start to appear dull and lifeless. From using lotion, soaps, and even everyday dust can contribute.

Then, suddenly, when you’re in a rush to get ready for a night out on the town, and the deadline is fast approaching, you open your jewelry drawer and realize that everything you have to choose from, from necklaces, rings, or even bracelets, need some fast attention.

The good news is that your jewelry can be cleaned easily right there at home. Here’s what the experts say about shining up all your jewelry so it will be beautiful and stay that way a lot longer than you might have thought possible.

What is Tarnish?

Tarnish is a dark corrosion that forms over your silver jewelry if you don’t cover it with a layer of protection. Tarnish is a chemical reaction that the metal in the silver alloy naturally has with the sulfur or hydrogen sulfide that’s in the air we breathe.

That’s why you should store silverware in air-restricted spaces. Jewelry boxes and cabinets are not completely airtight. That’s why silverware inside them will still tarnish, but at a slower pace.

The presence of sulfur and amino acids in perspiration will also cause discoloration to your skin and jewelry. By cleaning the jewelry on a regular basis you can avoid this discoloration.

Use a Good Silver Polish

The best and most effective way to clean tarnish from silverware and to keep it from becoming tarnished all over again is to choose a quality silver polish. Check the product ingredients in your favorite store. Make sure the polish you buy contains specific ingredients that dissolve and remove tarnish while leaving a protective coating. This will keep new tarnish from forming on your silverware.

Unfortunately, using silver polish can often be a little messy. Yes, the results with a quality polish can be outstanding, but there may be another option. If you want to avoid the mess, or if you are in a hurry to run out the door, look for silver wipes instead of polish. Silver wipes are specially treated multi-layer cloths designed for silverware. You use the first side to clean and remove tarnish and then the second side for shining.

A cautionary note. When you’re rubbing silverware, be sure to rub the polish in an up-and-down motion. Don’t use circular strokes. Circular strokes can highlight fine scratches that might be on the silver surface.

Other Options

Often, you may discover that the last time you used the silver polish, you emptied the jar and forgot to buy more. Or, there may not be enough left to do the job. A quick solution in an emergency, when you simply don’t have time to go to the store, is to try one of the following solutions. Don’t use these treatments any more often than necessary, and be aware they won’t keep tarnish from coming back, but they will do the job quickly in a pinch.

Dishwashing Liquid

Mix a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water and dip a soft cloth into the solution. Rub the silver to remove the tarnish, but avoid excessive rubbing or you may wear away some of the finish. Then, rinse the solution away with cool water and buff dry using a soft cloth.

Baking Soda

For heavier tarnish that won’t come off with the dishwashing liquid solution, try using our old friend, baking soda. Mix one part water with three parts baking soda into a paste and then wet the silverware. Apply the paste using a soft, lint-free cloth. Be sure to work the paste into all the crevices, and turn the cloth over often while it picks up the tarnish. Rinse well with cool water and then buff dry with a soft cloth.


Yes, toothpaste! In precisely the same manner that the mild abrasives in toothpaste remove stains from your teeth, they will also remove tarnish from your silverware. Use regular, white toothpaste (not gel), and apply a small dollop to a soft cloth (or even your finger. Next, rub the silverware in an up and down motion to remove the tarnish. Rinse well with cool water and then buff dry using a soft cloth.

Unfortunately, tarnish on silverware is unavoidable. But there are a few ways that you can make sure your jewelry, flatware, and dishes don’t lose their luster quite as fast. Here are a few tried and tested tips:

Place each piece of your silver jewelry into an anti-tarnish bag. Add a piece of chalk to absorb any moisture. Then, keep the bags in a dry, cool place in your home where there’s very little air movement and less chance of humidity sneaking in.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to wear your silver jewelry. Believe it or not, wearing your silver jewelry slows down the tarnishing process. So, the more you wear things, the more they’ll shine! And, here’s one final thought. You will be pleased to hear that you should put your jewelry on after you spray on your perfume. Why? Because doing so will help to prevent it from sticking to the silver.

Please let us know if these ideas have been helpful to you. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about any other home cleaning subjects you’d like us to cover, be sure to write us. And, if you live in the Chicago metro area and are interested in learning more about our home cleaning services, and how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment, give us a call. Our number is 708-599-7000. Or, you can contact us online for a free house or office cleaning consultation.