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Totally Together

Easy Way to Clean Silver Jewelry

January 26, 2012 by  

how to clean a whole box of jewelry in just minutes!


I’m not that much of a girly girl, but am realizing that I can get away with wearing the same plain shirt and jeans quite often if I switch up my jewelry. Recently, my friend Jennifer’s (yes, I realize ALL my friends are named Jennifer..) mom started selling jewelry, which means I’ve started to buy more pieces.

I love my new jewelry, but find that real silver tarnishes much too quick for my liking, and I stop wearing it completely after a few months. After a bit of googling, I discovered the quickest and easiest way to wash it all at once to remove the tarnish: a salt water bath with aluminum foil. The hot water and salt loosens the dirt and grime, while the aluminum foil attracts the tarnish (for the super-geeky, this is an ion exchange), and it then wipes away from the jewelry (or silver pieces) easily with a soft towel.

This wiki post intrigued me, but it was the testimonials from this message board that won me over.

I would not use this method to clean jewelry with precious stones. All the stones I dropped in the solution were made from glass.

The Ingredients.

tarnished silver jewelry, silver pieces (flatware, etc) (I also threw in a hammered copper pendant, which cleaned beautifully)

aluminum foil

1 tablespoon table salt

hot water

glass container or jar


The Directions.

Fill a glass jar or container with hot water, and stir in a tablespoon of table salt. Make sure the salt has dissolved completely, and throw in a few (I did three) 1-inch aluminum foil strips. Add jewelry. Let soak for a few hours, stirring every so often to remove dirt (the water will get brownish in color).

Dry jewelry completely with a soft towel and store in a silver cloth or tarnish-free tissue paper to keep this from happening over and over and over and over and over again. Sigh.


The Verdict.

This worked much better than I expected it to– the dirt and tarnish just wiped away with the towel. I found some of my really badly tarnished chains needed to soak longer, but they still were ready to go in a few hours. I only wish I was gutsy enough to tie the crockpot in with this one…

Post a comment · 17 Comments »


17 Responses to “Easy Way to Clean Silver Jewelry”

  1. Nancy on January 27th, 2012 10:17 am

    I also have a very easy way to clean silver. It is almost the same as this method but use baking soda and hot water. Basically the method is the same. I did this to clean a very old, very tarnished – almost black! – teapot that had all kinds of nooks and crannies on it due to the intricate pattern. I placed it in a bucket and kept at it until it was super shiney! So much nicer than using the polish creams and less elbow grease too!

    Love the salt idea, will try that next time.

    • Mary on April 18th, 2014 9:50 pm

      Cleaning silver has been on my list and I saw that you used baking soda and salt to clean a teapot, which is also what I have. Being fairly large, was wondering how I was going to go about it.
      Did you use only baking soda and hot water to sit the tea pot in a bucket? have you tried it with salt and the aluminum foil?

      • Stephanie O'Dea on April 23rd, 2014 9:17 am

        Hi Mary,

        I’ve just tried this out with a bunch of silver silverware (that’s pretty redundant!) — and it would work with a teapot, too.
        Line your kitchen sink with aluminum foil — spread out a few sheets so it is up the sides of the sink, too. Add a half-cup each of salt (I used cheap iodized) and baking soda.

        Pour in almost-boiling water. (I ran the teakettle on the stovetop and when I started hearing it make just a bit of noise, I took it off the burner). Stir around with a fork or something to agitate the salt and baking soda just a bit, and add the silver pot (or silverware).

        Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse well with fresh water and buff dry with a shammy or tea towel.

        I hope this helps a bit!!

  2. Rena on January 29th, 2012 7:50 am

    Thanks for the info… I was wondering if you would you clean silver with turquoise or lapis with this method ?

    • Stephanie on January 29th, 2012 8:12 am

      Hi Rena,
      I’m going to say no because I don’t know, and I’d hate to see anything accidentally damaged. I’m sorry for not being of more help!

  3. Cathy on February 14th, 2012 4:17 pm

    Stupid question…are we talking sterling silver? If so, this would be great. Also, no salt in te hoyse but sea salt?

    • Stephanie on February 14th, 2012 5:04 pm

      Hi Cathy, my silver was sterling silver. I think with the larger granules of salt you just need it to dissolve completely. Maybe use super hot water to get it to dissipate, then add jewelry after it cools?

  4. Katie B. of on May 31st, 2012 10:11 am

    Store some chalk in your jewelry box to absorb moisture and it’ll prevent tarnish in the future!

    • Stephanie on August 12th, 2012 7:39 am

      Chalk! what a neat idea—we’ve got tons of chalk.

  5. Suzanne on August 12th, 2012 12:33 am

    Here’s a great way to keep them shiny longer, too. You know all those little white silica packets that come in your new shoes, your electronics, or any food that needs to stay really dry? The ones that make you laugh because they say, “Do not eat” in 20 languages? (mmmm, yum, who would ever…?) Turns out if you place your newly cleaned (and dried) jewelry in a little ziploc baggie with one of those packets, it will take much, much longer to tarnish. Choose really small bags so they’ll fit in your jewelry box and don’t forget to store the jewelry in the bag after each wearing.

    • Stephanie on August 12th, 2012 7:38 am

      what a great tip! thank you, Suzanne!

  6. Holly on September 18th, 2012 12:57 pm

    To make this really work you need to add the baking soda. It is the chemical reaction of the baking soda, salt, aluminum foil, and silver that causes the tarnish to be removed. It ends up on the aluminum foil instead of your silver.

  7. karyn on October 14th, 2012 5:38 am

    Can I put the water, salt and baking soda into an aluminum foll casserole dish and then addd all the silverplate to this, instead of a glass dish and add foil strips?

    • Stephanie on October 14th, 2012 8:03 am

      Hi Karyn, my understanding is yes, you can!

  8. Monica on January 28th, 2013 4:26 pm

    OMG, it works. I have a Tiffany bracelet that got tarnished when I went swimming in the Bahamas. I just tried your suggestion and after a few second my bracelet looks great! Thanks.

  9. Anna on June 24th, 2013 8:33 pm

    Cleans all silver pieces including jewelry by closing your kitchen stainless steel sink. Place large sheet of aluminum foil at the bottom of he sink and add boiling water and tablespoon of salt. Stir the water to dissolve the salt. Take tongs and carefully dip your jewelry into the hot water. You can remove it in 30 seconds and all the tarnish is gone. If tarnish is still there dip it again. Place jewelry on towel to absorb water. You can do this with your sterling silver set too. Just dip and dry.

    When water becomes dark and murky, just replace and start again.

  10. Michelle Goode on November 17th, 2014 4:34 pm

    I am looking to clean my silver jewellery box, it is very very big and has alot of carving and intricate detail, I have tried a cloth and some other products, while they did work it was very labour intensive and left me desperate to find an easier way, as I cannot place it in a large quantity of water due to the velvet lining, how would I best clean using the baking soda and hot water method…….and would it even work without submerging in water ????

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