hintsandthings.co.uk »Utility Room

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

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

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.