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How to Clean, Polish And Store Silver to Avoid Damaging The Item.

We have received the following comments from site visitors.

Find a container large enough to immerse the item to be cleaned. Put a  piece of aluminium foil into the container and add hot water and salt *** (bi-carbonate of soda/baking soda). Dip the silverware into the solution and after a few seconds it will become white and shining. 


Sent in by Cristobal Reyes Perez – thanks.

As this is obviously caused by a chemical reaction I don’t know if it would damage the silver in any way.

I have now been sent an explanation by Joseph Collins as to why the above works which is as follows:-

Cleaning silver with aluminium foil – the reason this works is Aluminium is very active metal and silver is quite inert so aluminium reacts with the (tarnished silver) and frees up the silver metal and removes the rest in a chemical reaction. Silver is fairly inert but will react with any sulphur compounds in the air which is why Silver slowly tarnishes.

***I was looking at your tip for cleaning silverware using aluminium foil. The tip says “add the salt”, which I think it misleading. It should be baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) that’s being added; it should NOT be table salt (sodium chloride). In fact, sodium chloride could actually rust some metals (yes, even ones described as “stainless”) – not what you want on a knife! The advantage of using the aluminium foil plus sodium bicarbonate is that the silver sulphate (i.e. the tarnish on silverware) is converted back to silver metal, which therefore stays on the silverware. So, it’s not wearing the silver away! Using other methods for cleaning the silver will, over time, wear away the silver (not what you want particularly if you have silver-plated cutlery).

So – use baking powder – NOT table salt!

Brian Brooks


Clean silver with the juice of a lemon** and polish up with a soft clean cloth.

Use cotton buds to get into difficult crevices.

After cleaning your good silver to prevent it tarnishing, store it in an airtight plastic container.

Libby Tynan .

Toothpaste is good for removing tarnish on Silver. Coat the silver with toothpaste and then with it under warm water, work it into a foam using gentle pressure. Rinse well.

L. Allan

Easy way to clean sterling silver is to use Crest toothpaste a toothbrush and water. seconds of brushing and shine, shine, shine!


toothpaste is mildly abrasive so don’t rub hard. 

** As can be seen above the acid in the lemon may damage silver.

Be very wary when cleaning antiques or silver jewelry as this can not only damage the item but may also affect it’s value.