How to Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry in Minutes

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Knowing how to clean sterling silver will save you from losing money and beautiful jewelry to tarnish. Thankfully, you can get your sterling silver sparkly without breaking a sweat.

Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% another metal, usually copper. It tarnishes after prolonged exposure to environmental factors like salty air, humidity, and household cleaning agents like bleach and chlorine. When it comes in contact with sulfur, it forms silver sulfide, which becomes a black coating on the jewelry.

We’re sharing our best tips for cleaning sterling silver, whether daily, to remove tarnish, or to improve the shine.


How to Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry for Regular Maintenance

Sterling silver is beautiful and although it is usually not as expensive as gold, you want it to remain in perfect shape. You don’t have to wait till the entire piece is tarnished before you decide to clean. 

A quick wipe now and then will do the trick and help you get the most out of your jewelry. Here are some daily cleaning methods to keep your sterling silver in good shape.

Using a Jewelry Cleaning Cloth

You can use this cleaning method every time you wear your sterling silver piece. Use a jewelry cleaning cloth or soft microfiber cloth to wipe your jewelry gently. This helps to remove dirt and makeup. 

Polishing Cloth

A polishing cloth is usually designed to be two-sided. The inner side is coated with tarnishing inhibitors, cleaning and polishing substances, while the outer side, made of soft microfiber, is used for wiping off dirt.

The inner side is used first to reach all the smaller parts and crevices. The cloth will start to turn black, a sign that it effectively removes the tarnish from the piece. Afterward, clean with the outer side to wipe off the remaining dirt and buff your sterling silver piece.

๐Ÿ’ก Please Note: Don’t wash your sterling silver polishing cloth because it is usually pretreated. Even after it starts to look black after the first use, it will effectively clean your jewelry multiple times.


How to Clean Sterling Silver Chains

Sterling silver chains are not hard to clean but will require patience. You can always use your soft cloth or polishing cloth for regular maintenance. Use this method to go a step further to get your chains sparkling again.

Dish Soap and Warm Water

This is a simple method for cleaning your sterling silver chain if you notice a small tarnished spot. Avoid using harsh materials like a stiff brush for cleaning to avoid scratching your jewelry.

Materials Needed

  • Bowl
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soft cloth

Instructions

  1. Pour warm water into a bowl and add a few drops of mild dishwashing soap like Dawn.
  2. Mix the soap and water well by stirring.
  3. Drop your sterling silver chain in the mix and soak for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Use a soft-bristled brush to reach the crevices of the chain.
  5. Rinse in warm water.
  6. Dry with a soft cloth and then buff by rubbing gently.

This method can also be used for other sterling silver pieces like rings and earrings. However, if your pieces have gemstones glued to them, you may want to avoid this method because soaking in water might loosen the glue.


How to Clean Sterling Silver Earrings

Sterling silver is a popular choice for earrings because of its hypoallergenic properties, perfect for sensitive ears. You can clean your earrings with a single product you most likely have at home.

Baking Soda and Plain Water

Baking soda can be a bit abrasive, but if used correctly, it works without damaging your piece.

Materials Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Soft cloth

Instructions

  1. Make a paste with baking soda and water.
  2. Apply the paste to the sterling silver earring.
  3. Rub gently with a soft cloth.
  4. Rinse with warm water.
  5. Dry with a soft cloth.

๐Ÿ’ก Quick Tip: Use a cotton swab for the smaller parts of your earrings.


How to clean sterling silver rings

Sterling silver is a popular, affordable, and fashionable material for engagement rings. Keep your symbol of love from tarnishing using this method.

Materials Needed

  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Bowl
  • Soft cloth

Instructions

  1. Mix one teaspoon of olive oil with 120ml of lemon juice in a bowl
  2. Dip a soft cloth in the mixture and rub gently on the sterling silver ring. 
  3. Rinse with warm water and then dry with a clean, soft cloth.

This method can also be used for other types of sterling silver jewelry.


How to remove tarnish from sterling silver

Tarnish is formed from the reaction of silver with sulfur to form silver sulfide. Silver sulfide is black, which darkens your sterling silver making it lose its shine.

Silver Dip Cleaner

Silver dip cleaners work by dissolving the tarnish formed. Theyโ€™re easy to use and remove tarnish in no time.

Materials Needed

Instructions

  1. Dip your sterling silver piece into the dip cleaner.
  2. Give the container a good shake and remove the sterling silver piece.
  3. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Pat dry with a soft cloth.

Baking Soda and Aluminium Foil

This is an excellent homemade tarnish removing method. You can complete the entire process in about 30 minutes and have your piece looking as good as new.

woman cleaning sterling silver using aluminum foil

Materials Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bowl

Instructions

  1. Boil one cup (240ml) of water in a pot.
  2. Completely line a heat-safe bowl with aluminum foil.
  3. Place your tarnished sterling silver piece in the lined bowl.
  4. Add one tablespoon of baking soda to the boiling water.
  5. Pour the mixture into the lined bowl containing the sterling silver piece.
  6. Soak for 2-10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the mixture and rinse with room temperature water.
  8. Dry with a soft, non-abrasive cloth.

๐Ÿ’ก Donโ€™t Forget to Polish: After removing the tarnish, use a polish cloth to polish the dry sterling silver piece to increase its luster.


7 top tips for maintaining sterling silver jewelry 

If you’ve gone to great lengths to get sterling silver jewelry instead of a silver-plated one, you want to maintain it properly. Here’s a round-up of some tried and trusted maintenance tips:

  1. Keep your sterling silver jewelry away from household chemicals and body lotions.
  2. Wear jewelry after you have applied your perfume.
  3. Store in a protective air-tight bag.
  4. Don’t store sterling silver with other jewelry pieces that may scratch it.
  5. Use your polishing cloth for regular maintenance cleaning.
  6. Plate your sterling silver piece with rhodium to keep it tarnish-free for a long time.
  7. Protect your sterling silver jewelry from prolonged exposure to water by not wearing it in the shower, doing household chores, or swimming.

Keep Your Sterling Silver Untarnished 

Sterling silver is a beautiful choice for rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. While sterling silver is prone to tarnish, it can last you a lifetime if you take care of it well. Make sure to clean your sterling silver regularly so it can keep being a part of your amazing jewelry collection.

๐Ÿ’Ž You should know: We use affiliate links throughout our site. This means we may earn a cent or two when you make a purchase on our site. Thanks for adding to our shine.