Keep Your Best Pieces Shining: 5 Ways to Clean Silver Flatware and Jewelry

how to clean silver - clean silverware on styled table

Dine x Design

From your most beloved pieces of silver jewelry to that stunning set of flatware you only break out at the holidays, silver is one of those materials that's practical and sophisticated for a range of occasions. The timeless finish is a favorite among modernists and traditionalists alike, and the right touches of silver can upgrade your home, décor, and accessories.

However, like many fine metals, silver can diminish over time when exposed to various environmental factors. Dust, dirt, and exposure to the elements can dramatically affect the color and clarity of your silver, causing it to tarnish—which is why knowing how to clean silver is so essential. Whether you’re refreshing your jewelry drawer or planning your next dinner party, take a cue from our easy, eco-friendly guide to cleaning silver with household ingredients like laundry detergent, baking soda, toothpaste, and more.

Below, keep reading to learn how to clean your silver at home and make your best pieces shine like they're brand-new.

How Often Should You Clean Silver?

As a general rule of thumb, you should polish your silver pieces at least once a year—but you may need to do it more often depending on how often it's used. If you're cleaning your favorite jewelry or the flatware set used for frequent dinner parties, your silver can be polished between two to six times each year.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl or plastic container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Clean microfiber towels
  • Hot water
  • Household cleaning agent of your choice
  • Cotton gloves (optional)
  • Baking pan (optional)

If you choose to wear gloves when cleaning silver, be sure to use options made from materials like cotton. The chemicals in rubber can cause silver to tarnish—so save your standard rubber kitchen gloves for other cleaning jobs.

How to Clean Silver With Baking Soda and Water

how to clean silver

Dine x Design

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Baking soda is a versatile cleaning tool that you probably already have in your pantry—and combined with water, it makes an effective homemade silver cleaning solution. Gather a deep bowl or plastic container lined with aluminum foil (shiny side facing upward), two tablespoons of baking soda, and hot water.

Step 2: Soak the Silver

Place your silver pieces in the bowl, ensuring that the edges of the bowl are higher than the top of your items. Fill the bowl with hot water to submerge all silver, then slowly add two tablespoons of baking soda. Allow the mixture to bubble and sit for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Buff and Polish (Optional)

If you're cleaning flatware or items larger than jewelry, create a polishing paste by mixing two tablespoons of baking soda with drops of water as needed until the mixture forms a paste. Buff the surface of the silver with a clean cloth.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Rinse the silver to fully remove any residual baking soda. Using a clean microfiber towel, gently blot it dry with a clean cloth.

How to Clean Silver With Rubbing Alcohol

how to clean silver - clean silverware on styled table

Dine x Design

Step 1: Create the Cleaning Solution

Cleaning silver with rubbing alcohol is a great method to treat smudges, mild spotting, or tarnished metal. Mix four parts water with one part rubbing alcohol in a clean bowl or plastic container.

Step 2: Buff Your Silver

Dampen a clean cloth, then gently buff the silver. Be sure to polish its surface until any smudges or tarnished areas come clean.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Once your silver is sparkling again, use a dry microfiber towel to wipe it clean before storing it in a safe place until its next use.

Flannel is an excellent material for storing silver between uses: Opt for a flannel bag specifically designed for silver, and ensure silver pieces don't touch each other inside it to avoid scratches.

How to Clean Silver With Toothpaste

how to clean silver - clean silverware on set table

Calimia Home

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

While your daily toothpaste is made for cleaning your teeth, its ingredients are also very effective at cleaning silver. Bonus: Even organic toothpaste can get the job done. Pair it with a soft cloth, like microfiber or flannel, to avoid scratching the silver.

Step 2: Polish the Silver

To polish your silver, dab a bit of toothpaste onto the cloth and gently rub down its surface. Be sure to coat between the tines of silver forks and the inner edges of jewelry chains.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Rinse the silver with warm water, then use a separate clean microfiber towel to pat it dry.

How to Clean Silver With Vinegar and Aluminum Foil

how to clean silver - clean silver dishware and flatware

Dine x Design

Step 1: Line Your Container

Much like baking soda, vinegar is famously versatile and effective as a home cleaning solution. To clean your silver with vinegar, start by lining a baking pan with aluminum foil (shiny side facing upward).

Step 2: Boil the Cleaning Solution

Pour a mix of one part vinegar and four parts water into your baking pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, drop in the silver, then let it rest for about five minutes.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Remove the silver and rinse it with warm water. Wipe the pieces dry with a clean microfiber towel before storing them until their next use.

How to Clean Silver With Laundry Detergent

how to clean silver - formal dinner party with clean silverware

Black and Blooms

Step 1: Line Your Container

Powdered laundry detergent can also be used to clean your silver. Start by lining a bowl with aluminum foil (shiny side facing upward) and filling it with hot water.

Step 2: Mix in Detergent

Next, mix in one tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent. Let your silver sit in this mixture for around one minute to remove watermarks and smudges.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Rinse your silver with water, then let it air dry. It should come out spot-free without needing an additional wipe-down to polish or dry.

Tips to Keep Silver Clean Longer

Once your jewelry or flatware is clean, it's important to store it properly to maintain its finish between uses. Keep your silver pieces shining by wrapping them in a clean microfiber towel or table napkin to minimize their exposure to the elements. For those favorite pieces of jewelry, a simple set of silver wipes can be used weekly to keep your best accessories shimmering before your next deep clean.