how to speed clean silver

In preparation of our friend Ellen Silverman borrowing our space to shoot a video, we decided to tackle the long-neglected job of cleaning our very tarnished silver (we’ve been BUSY!) We pulled out the silver polish and started rubbing…and rubbing…and rubbing…quickly realizing that it would take us FOREVER to get the job done. We knew there had to be some old fashioned method —akin to the way we cleaned our copper pots with salt and vinegar — so did a quick search online. We found the DIY version of a the “miracle Museum Precious Metals Cleaning Plate” Hammacher Schlemmer sells for for $29.95. It was worth a shot.

cleaning silver 2

We lined the sink with alumium foil, filled it with a few inches of hot water and sprinkled in a few tablespoons each of baking soda and salt…stirred to dissolve and threw in the silver. Then we waited.

cleaning silver 1

After a half hour or much of the tarnish had moved from the silver to the foil through “electrolytic action”. Some of the pieces still had streaks of tarnish. We found we could quickly remove them by rubbing lightly with our favorite tool: an ultra ultra fine contour sanding sponge; it was as though the baking soda/salt solution had loosened the tarnish, and it was just waiting to be cleaned off. (You could also use a dab of silver polish to sparkle the silver up; some have a silicone coating that keeps silver from tarnishing quickly.) When the foil became darkened and discolored, we replaced it with new to clean another batch of silver

Sally Schneider
cleaning silver foil after

Sally Schneider

We got a mountain of silver done in no time, for little effort and money.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

This seriously works!

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

6 Responses to how to speed clean silver

  1. Jane Dale 11.22.2013 at 12:31pm #

    Cream of tomato soup does it every time. And you don’t have to heat the soup!

  2. nina 11.22.2013 at 3:13pm #

    i think it is beautiful without polishing. it speaks to age, use, and process…real wabi-sabi.

  3. Sally 11.22.2013 at 4:16pm #

    I hear you. I tend not to worry about polishing things much…love the patina on my copper pots, collected over years of traveling and cooking. But I have to say, this silver wasn’t a pleasure to use any longer..It needed a spring cleaning.

  4. Sally 11.22.2013 at 4:17pm #

    Ah. I seem to remember hearing that. Will try one of these days. Perhaps, it would be the good touch up polish, once the big tarnish is knocked off in the sink. Thanks.

  5. sahana martin 04.25.2014 at 6:00pm #

    This seems to be a good use of aluminum foil, though if there are alternatives you might consider using those . There is already too much aluminum around ( probably even where you would not expect it ) and the way it is produced , from what i have seen , is comparable to a horror story ( s. info here : http://www.voanews.com/content/new-documentary-aluminum-dark-side/1651354.html , for example ) .
    Not to spoil the post, just feel it is important information .

    good vibes ~
    s

  6. Sally 04.30.2014 at 2:40pm #

    I think you could just use a piece of aluminum. Keep it on hand to re-use and re-use…(but you’d need to wash the tarnish off.)

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