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How to Clean Silver Without Using Chemicals

Susan prefers to use natural ingredients whenever possible in the home and garden. It is usually cheaper, easier and greener.

No chemicals? No problem!

No chemicals? No problem!

Clean Sterling Silver Using Household Items

Sterling silver tends to go dull when it is dirty and when it is not used daily. Jewellery, cutlery, silverware, and plates will lose their shine when stored away for long periods of time. The silver goes grey and can turn black in some instances.

It is quite easy to get the shine back on the metal by cleaning the items with a few ingredients we often already have in the cupboard. It's quick, easy and doesn't take much effort to do. It is also greener to use this mixture than it is to use harsh chemicals.

All the Ingredients Needed to Clean Silver With Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda

The ingredients needed are usually already in the kitchen cupboard.

The ingredients needed are usually already in the kitchen cupboard.

What You Need to Clean Silver With Vinegar

The ingredients needed are usually in the store cupboard, but they are cheap and easy to buy in most shops if you don't have all of them. These ingredients can be used in other ways to clean the house, so they are more cost-effective than buying ready-made silver cleaning chemicals.

1. Vinegar

You can use any cheap vinegar. I use malt vinegar; I use it to clean lots of things around the home, and it can be bought in a large bottle for pennies. You can also use white vinegar, which is commonly used for cleaning.

2. Bicarbonate of soda or baking soda

This is a cheap ingredient and is also used as a raising agent in baking, and it can be used to neutralize smells and clean the home.

3. Salt

Any salt you already have at home will do - rock salt or cheap table salt just use what you have.

4. Tin foil

The regular kind used in the kitchen.

5. Warm water

The Steps to Take

Once you have everything you need, the process is very simple.

Follow these steps:

  1. Line a bowl that is big enough to hold the silver you want to clean with the aluminum foil. It doesn't have to be perfect; just sufficient to hold the silver in and to help the chemical reaction that will take place.
  2. Put a teaspoon of salt in the lined bowl, then add a small amount of warm water. You need just enough to dilute the salt into the water, so there is nothing to scratch the silver jewelry with. Mix it for a few moments.
  3. Next, add a tablespoon or so of the bicarbonate of soda / baking soda.
  4. Finally, add a good cup of the vinegar - enough for a complete covering of the jewelry once it is soaking in the mixture. The mixture should bubble and fizz as the vinegar reacts with the baking soda - this is exactly what you want.
  5. Place the silver into the solution and leave it to clean itself.
  6. Depending on how dirty the silver is, you will need to leave it in there for between 20 minutes and an hour. For very tarnished silver, you may have to repeat the process with fresh ingredients.
  7. When you can see the desired improvement, thoroughly rinse the silver in clean tap water to make sure all the vinegar mixture has been removed.
  8. Dry and polish the item with a super soft cloth. I use one of my microfibre cloths which I use all over the home for cleaning, but an old t-shirt which has been softened by many washes is also a good material to use.
  9. The piece of silver should now be clean and slightly shiny. All done with little fuss and no harsh chemicals.
Mix salt, water, baking soda, and vinegar in a lined bowl.

Mix salt, water, baking soda, and vinegar in a lined bowl.

Cleaning Large Silver Items

I use this method to clean my Pandora bracelet that has charms. Some of the charms have little areas where the dirt collects. Soaking in this solution really cleans most of the tarnish, but a gentle brush with a really old toothbrush helps in some stubborn areas. I also clean a silver chain regularly with great results.

If you have large items to clean, such as silver platters or teapots, you could line the kitchen sink with the foil and have a cleaning session on a larger scale. Of course, you would need a catering-sized container of vinegar, but these are available and are reasonably priced.

Before being cleaned.

Before being cleaned.

After being cleaned and polished on a microfibre cloth.

After being cleaned and polished on a microfibre cloth.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Susan Hambidge

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