Silver Jewelry: How to Clean Silver at Home | Sterling Silver Jewellery Cleaning

silver jewelry | how to clean silver at home | how to clean silver

Unlike the creepers of day to day trends, sterling silver isn’t just another passing fancy. Rather, it is considered as a timeless jewellery fashion among women of all interests and tribes.

Finding its origins in the 13th century silver mills of England, sterling silver is perhaps the most common type of silver preferred by the jewellery designers too.

However, over time it might lose its shine, though, it can be regained if caught in the initial stages. You probably have wondered about this too.

Many women like to keep these jewellery items packed in some distant drawer ready to be taken out only on some special occasion or wedding.

Yet, when it comes to sterling silver, this usually doesn’t prevent the jewels from catching tarnish anyhow. Just like each metal comes with its own elemental properties, the jewellery made in different metals requires different approaches and methods for maintenance as well.

To make the shine of your sterling silver jewellery last long, it is necessary to have basic knowledge about the essential cleaning methods and storage techniques. Adding to these, here are some quick tips to help you look even more gorgeous in your silver jewellery.

Understanding the Properties & Needs of Sterling Silver

Sterling silver isn’t pure silver which comes with 99.9% of the metal silver. Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver which comprises of 92.5% silver and remaining 7.5% other materials, the principle among them being copper.

While this composition of copper makes the metal somewhat more malleable and designable, this also makes it more prone to tarnishing.

When a sterling silver accessory comes in contact with the oxygen present in air, the composition of copper reacts with this oxygen thus producing oxides and other compounds.

This results in the formation of a blackish layer on the surface of sterling silver accessory. This layer is known as tarnish. Therefore, without proper care, time can begin to show its effect.

But the good news is, it is quite simple to reverse away this tarnish. Besides, if your sterling silver accessory, vessel, jewel or item is still fresh from the market, you can always take right preventive measures to avoid the tarnishing on the metal surface. To start off with the details about these preventive measures, read on.

Right Kind of Storage

First of all, make sure that you have purchased good quality sterling silver items and not the ones merely plated with silver. Then, your sterling silver jewellery can be stored in any container as long as it is air tight and not excessively vulnerable to heat. Here are a few suggestions on what makes up for a right storage for sterling silver accessories.


It’s always a cool idea to store each of your jewellery items separately. This will prevent them from entangling with each other.

Also, keeping several items together such as earrings and chains might cause them to scratch the surfaces of each other. Apart from individual items, make sure to store the sterling silver ornaments separately from the pieces made in other metals or materials.


Excess heat, light or moisture can promote the formation of compounds which cause tarnishing. The main thing is to not let your sterling silver jewels astray in open or in a place exposed to direct sunlight.


Ideally, the container has to be airtight as mentioned above. A cloth pouch works great too. Even better is a zip-lock bag which comes with anti-tarnish properties.


To protect the harmful materials from entering your jewellery box, simply slip in a few anti-tarnish strips or anti-tarnish cloths inside it.

You can also make use of the tiny silica packs you receive when you purchase new apparels, a bag or a pair of shoes. In addition to this, you can put a few pieces of chalk or activated charcoal balls inside the storage bag. Materials like these support the absorption of moisture and sulphur, hence, preventing tarnish.


When it comes to sterling silver ornaments, it’s a big no-no to let them sink in containers made with these materials. Avoid storing your ornaments in containers made with or filled with materials such as wood, cotton, wool, rubber, cardboard and paper. These materials contain plenty of sulphur which accelerates the tarnishing process on silver.

When to Wear & When to Avoid

Talking of maintenance, it’s also a great idea to know how often and when to wear your silver trinkets. Even more than that, when to avoid them!


It might appear crazy at first but your skin is the best protector for sterling silver. Yes! The natural oils contained in your skin as well as the regulation of heat act together in maintaining the shine of the silver materials.


Most women already know this intuitively and wear the jewellery items at last while getting ready for a party. But not many know that behind this is some science too.

The chemicals contained in the lotions, perfumes, creams and other cosmetic materials when reacted with silver can add a corrosive layer over the accessories. And therefore, it’s always a good idea to wear your sterling silver accessories in the last while dressing up.


Before entering in places where your jewellery may come in prolonged contact with moisture, the best thing is to remove it beforehand.

These places might include your bath or shower. Or, perhaps when you’re taking a dip in the pool. It could also imply the time when you exercise, gym or engage in some high-sweat activity such as sports, gardening, sunbath or hot springs.


Especially while working with water. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing sterling silver when you’re working with foods which are composed of sulphur.

These items may include garlic, onion, eggs and mayonnaise. In addition to this, avoid exposing the silver item to oils of coconut and mustard as these can cause the silver material to tarnish.

Homemade Recipes for Sterling Silver Cleaning

These recipes are as simple as effective to try at home. Just take a look.


This is one of the best treatments as recommended by jewellery experts for sterling silver. Mix the two ingredients – baking soda and water. Stir it to form a paste. Dip a soft cloth in this paste and scrub it gently over the sterling silver accessories.


Dip your sterling silver jewels in a bowl of vinegar. Add a pinch of baking soda to it. You’ll notice the foamy bubbles in formation. Let the jewels stay in this foamy liquid for a few minutes. Then take them out and pat dry with a clean, soft cloth.


Mix a tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl of lemon juice. Soak a microfiber cloth in this solution and gently rub it over your silver adornments. Then let them dry.


Easy and simple. When you’re short of any other material, soap and water comes handy.


The above mentioned cleaners might not be as good as well if your silver jewellery contains precious stones or beads. These cleaners though mild can loosen the glue of stones or can damage the pure stone materials affecting their shine. In this case, it is best to take advice from professional silver experts.


For jewellery items which are delicate and expensive, this is one of the top-spot methods of cleaning the tarnish at home. You will need a roll of aluminium foil, a large sized dish, a bowl of water and baking soda.

First, wrap the inner surface of the dish with aluminium foil, no gaps. Now, place the pieces of silver jewels inside the dish.

Next, boil the water and add a pinch of baking soda to it. Pour this mixture right into the dish containing jewellery. Get ready for a foul rotten egg-like smell.

This odour is due to the transfer of sulphide atoms from the silver tarnish into the aluminium along with the formation of hydrogen sulphide.

What To Avoid While Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewellery?

Don’t use detergents, dishwasher or any similar materials to clean it. Don’t use chlorinated water. Don’t use tissues, toilet paper or paper towels as they contain fibres which can cause scratches on the silver’s surface.

Revamp the Sterling Silver Accessories

If the tarnish, coat or blackening is too stubborn to remove at home, you can always have professional care done. Professional jewel cleaners use crystalline wax, silver polish and clear lacquer to give a brand new look to your sterling silver jewels.

To Summarize

Be it a cluster of sterling silver beads or an elaborate silver necklace, in its very basic nature, sterling silver jewellery is meant to be worn.

If you wear it at right time, in right place, silver is going to do the work of adding lustre to your skin and your skin is going to work on preserving the lustre of silver. Wonderful, isn’t it?


A jewellery box can take your jewellery's safety and maintenance a notch up. Often, the task of searching for an ideal place to keep your pieces of jewellery safe from intruders or outsiders can seem daunting. Thus, a jewellery box can allow you to keep your jewellery organized as well as safe. Besides, the jewelry boxes come in elegant and beautiful designs, materials, shapes, and sizes, and they can spruce up the look of your tables or cupboard shelves. Apart from jewellery items, you can use them to store other small items as well. However, it would be best if you didn't hoard these boxes.