How to clean Sterling silver jewelry

May 12, 2021

How to clean Sterling silver jewelry


If you own or have owned some sterling silver jewelry, you probably know about silver tarnish, or silver “turning black”. It’s something that cannot be avoided with silver. It will happen eventually. Sterling silver tarnish happens because of a chemical reaction between the silver and the moisture and chemicals in the air. While you cannot completely avoid tarnishing, you can minimize it or prevent the silver from tarnishing too quickly. If you live in a high humidity area, you can use put a pack of silica gel into the plastic bag to help minimize tarnishing. There are also many options available for cleaning sterling silver jewelry that has tarnished.
First, how to slow down tarnishing. If your jewelry is already tarnished, there are many options available to clean it. There are commercial cleaners available, and also many homemade cleaners.

Commercial silver cleaners.

There are many commercial silver cleaners readily available in liquid or paste, and they do a great job at cleaning silver. However you have to be careful about what type of jewelry you use it on. I would recommend not using it on any jewelry that has some gemstones, unless you can prevent the chemical from touching the stone. The stones could be affected by the chemicals in the cleaner and be damaged, and this is especially true for soft stones like turquoise and pearls.

Also, if you have a piece of jewelry that has been oxidized to highlight some designs elements, you don’t want to dip the whole piece into a commercial cleaner because you’re going to lose those details. Ps: oxidized is a term used to describe the process of darkening a piece of jewelry to bring out or highlight design details. 

sterling silver necklace women
For pieces of jewelry that have been oxidized, a polishing cloth will help you clean without losing those intricate design details.
There are many polishing cloth or polishing pads available on the market. I like to use these ones from Rio Grande.
Besides commercial cleaners, there are many DIY options that you can use at home. Again, keep in mind that not all type of jewelry is suitable for homemade cleaners.

Homemade silver cleaner

You can make homemade cleaners at home with things you may already have. On top of that, they are more economical and environment friendly. Again, make sure you do not use these method on antique pieces or jewelry that have some stones that may be susceptible to damage.


You can use a non-abrasive toothpaste and a dedicated toothbrush or cotton ball to clean your jewelry at home. Use a toothpaste that is not a gel.

Water and ammonia

a simple combination of water and ammonia can help. Mix one part of water with 2 part of ammonia, and let you silver soak in it for 10 minutes. After the time is up remove them from and rinse them really well under running water. Do not use this method with any jewelry that has soft stones or any antique piece.

White vinegar and baking soda

This method is incredible in make your jewelry shine again. Add a cup of white distilled vinegar into a bowl, add the pieces that you want to clean, then add about 4 or 5 tablespoon of baking soda. Let it sit for about an hour, then remove your jewelry and rinse very well under clear water.

Baking soda Paste

You can make a paste of baking soda and Water and use it in the same manner as the toothpaste method above.

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