A Detailed Guide on How to Clean Silver Necklaces

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We love silver jewelry for its shine, but it can get dull over time. Imagine opening your jewelry box on the morning of a special occasion and reaching in to find a blackened, dull silver necklace. That can put a kink in your plans. We’ll show you how to clean your silver necklace safely at home. But first, what causes that tarnish?

Tarnish is caused by the reaction of silver and other chemicals, the main culprit being sulfur. When silver comes in contact with moisture, cosmetic products, and other contaminants, sulfur can react with the metal. The good news is you can clean off this layer of tarnish

Can Real Silver Turn Black?

Yes, it can. All silver can turn black under certain conditions. This black coloration is silver tarnish and does not mean your silver is fake. 

The discoloration of silver results from a chemical process called oxidation. This process happens when silver interacts with oxygen and sulfur-bearing pollutants, creating silver-sulfide. Silver sulfide is black and covers the surface of your jewelry.

💡 Top Tip: If you notice black marks on your skin from the rubbing of silver jewelry, it’s a sign to clean the jewelry. 

You can clean silver jewelry in various ways.

How to Clean a Silver Necklace

Here are some cleaning methods for silver that you can use at home.

Dishwashing Soap and Warm Water

This method is for mild cleaning, and it works for lesser tarnish. You can also use this method in cleaning sterling silver jewelry. It’s quick and easy and you can use it whenever you take off your jewelry.

Materials Needed

  • Dishwashing soap
  • Warm water
  • Bowl
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soft drying cloth


  1. Pour warm water into a clean bowl and mix with dishwashing soap until it lathers.
  2. Place the necklace into the bowl and leave to soak for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Use a soft-bristle brush to clean any crevices.
  4. Rinse with warm water.
  5. Dry with a soft cloth. Avoid using paper towels. They can scratch the delicate surface of the silver.

💡 Did You Know? Soap and water won’t cause any damage to your silver necklace, so you can use this method to clean it as needed. Just make sure to dry the chain afterward to prevent oxidation from prolonged water exposure.

Baking Soda and Water

This is one of the most popular methods for removing tarnish quickly and effectively.

Materials Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot water
  • Bowl
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soft drying cloth


A Detailed Guide on How to Clean Silver Necklaces
  1. Line the bowl with the aluminum foil, the shiny side facing up.
  2. Put the silver necklace in the bowl.
  3. Pour the hot water into the bowl to cover the silver necklace.
  4. Add a tablespoon of baking soda into the water and allow the necklace to soak for 30 minutes.
  5. Brush any crevices.
  6. Rinse with cool water, making sure to remove any remaining baking soda.
  7. Dry with a soft cloth.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Add a little vinegar if you want a harsher method than the previous one. It cleans the tarnish more effectively and faster.

Materials Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Salt
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bowl
  • Hot water
  • Soft drying cloth


  1. Line the bowl with aluminum foil.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the foil, then slowly pour in the vinegar.
  3. Pour in hot water.
  4. Place the necklace into the bowl and allow to soak for about 2-5 minutes. If the tarnishing is bad, soak for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the jewelry from the solution and rinse it under cool water.
  6. Dry with a soft cloth.

Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Lemon juice contains citric acid, which is effective in removing tarnish from silver. It’s best used when fresh as the acid is at its strongest.

Materials Needed

  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Small bowl


  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a half cup of lemon juice in the bowl.
  2. Place the microfiber cloth in it to soak up the solution.
  3. Wring out the wet cloth and use it to polish the silver necklace.
  4. Rinse the necklace with cool water.
  5. Dry with another cloth.

💡 Take Note: Do not use this method to clean necklaces with gemstones. Citric acid can damage certain gemstones.


Toothpaste is a mild cleaning method. It removes some tarnish, but it’s not enough to make a big difference. Use this method for a silver necklace with a minimal amount of tarnish.

Materials Needed

  • Toothpaste
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soft drying cloth


  1. Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to the brush.
  2. Rub gently on the necklace to polish and clean off tarnish.
  3. Leave for 5 minutes, then rinse off the toothpaste with cool water.
  4. Dry with a soft cloth.


This method might sound unusual, but ketchup works well in cleaning silver. It is also mild and should be used in removing tarnish in small amounts.

Materials Needed

  • Ketchup
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush


  1. Apply a few drops of ketchup to the microfiber cloth.
  2. Rub directly on the areas of jewelry with tarnish.
  3. Leave for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Rub out the ketchup with a microfiber cloth and rinse with water. Brush out crevices with a soft-bristle brush to get out excess ketchup.

Silver Cleaning Cloth

A silver cleaning cloth is excellent if you want a cleaning method that takes little effort. It is made with 100% cotton fiber infused with an anti-tarnish agent. The fabric is mainly used for cleaning lightly tarnished silver jewelry. 

Some cleaning cloths are made for one-time use, while you can reuse some. If you plan to reuse the cloth, do not wash it because washing can remove the cleaning agent.

You can use a silver cleaning cloth by rubbing it on the tarnished surface of the silver necklace. The fabric will become dark gray or black to indicate that the tarnish has been cleaned.

Silver cleaning cloth

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is a good choice if you need to clean your necklace on the go. Apply a small amount of sanitizer on a soft cloth, rub gently on the necklace, and you’re good to go. It works for light tarnish.

💡 Keep in Mind: Don’t use this method for necklaces with gemstones. Sanitizers have some ingredients, like alcohol, that can damage certain types of gemstones.

Frequently Asked Questions

While almost all about cleaning silver necklaces have been touched, you might still have some unanswered questions. 

What is the best homemade jewelry cleaner for sterling silver?

Though there are differences between pure silver and sterling silver, you can use similar homemade cleaning methods. One of the most recommended methods is using mild detergent and water. The materials used in this method are less expensive and less damaging.

Does cleaning silver with baking soda damage it?

Baking soda is abrasive and can ruin the finish of the silver when misused. It is best used on sterling silver as it is less likely to be damaged. Make sure to rub gently when cleaning to reduce the risk of damage.

Can silver tarnish permanently?

No, silver won’t tarnish permanently. Silver tarnish is a natural process that occurs when sulfur and oxygen in the air react with silver. This process creates a layer of silver sulfide on your jewelry. You can clean off this tarnish using mild dish soap or baking soda at home.

How do you clean badly tarnished silver?

You can clean badly tarnished silver using baking soda. For faster results, add distilled white vinegar. Let the jewelry soak in baking soda solution for extended periods depending on the tarnish’s bad.

Maintain Your Silver’s Sparkle

The best way to ensure that your silver necklace keeps looking good and shiny is by taking care of it. Store it properly and reduce exposure to moisture, air, heat, and other conditions to encourage tarnishing. 

Still, whenever your jewelry gets tarnished, you can always clean it. Mild soap and water work well for mild tarnish, but you can use baking soda for more tarnished pieces.

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