How To Correctly Clean Silver Jewelry

How much care your silver jewelry needs depends on how often you're wearing it and how you're storing it. Improperly cared for silver will tarnish, leaving you with extra cleaning to do when it's time to wear it. That "tarnish" is the silver oxidizing, which happens from wear and air.

Roman Design Jewelry explains that moisture in the air increases tarnish on your silver jewelry. To that end, if you live in a humid area or home, you may find yourself cleaning your jewelry more often. According to Brides, a once-a-week cleaning is ideal for keeping silver in good condition. InStyle also suggests wiping your silver accessories down after each use.

Keeping your silver jewelry clean won't be difficult if you have a polishing cloth and some silver cleaner on hand. It's just as important to have suitable storage space for these pieces as well. Even adding a chunk of felt under your silver jewelry will help keep away tarnish.

1. Wipe silver jewelry down after you wear it

A silver polishing cloth is a must-have for anyone who owns silver jewelry. It offers a quick and easy way to wipe down your jewelry at the end of the day and helps remove tarnish. These hardy cloths don't need to be cleaned or replaced too often, and they dry-clean moisture, makeup, skin oils, and dirt from any silver items.

Hold your piece of jewelry with a clean, soft cloth while cleaning so that you're not getting more oils and prints on it while wiping with your jewelry cloth. The fabric will start to look tarnished itself the more you use it, but according to Hunker, the cloth is good for at least two years and will keep cleaning even with tarnish spots on it. To clean the cloth, follow manufacturer instructions on the tag or packaging. They usually shouldn't be laundered with your other linens.

2. Wash silver jewelry with soap and water

Washing silver jewelry doesn't require any special cleaning solutions if your pieces aren't highly tarnished. Instead, some soap and water will do the trick, according to Better Homes & Gardens. You don't even need to invest in any specific soap — basic dish soap will work fine.

Use warm water to clean your silver jewelry, and mix it with a few drops of dish soap. There's no need to the boil water, as just hot from the tap will be warm enough. Place your jewelry in the mixture for about 10 minutes, no longer. Next, get into the nooks and crannies of your jewelry with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Soft bristles will help prevent scratching your jewelry and making it dull over time. Always dry your jewelry pieces off completely with a soft cloth before putting them away; any moisture left behind will lead to more tarnishing.

3. Wash silver jewelry in a tougher solution

If soap and water alone don't get your silver jewelry clean, there are some pre-made cleaners you can use, or you can mix up a more effective cleaner at home. Store-bought silver cleaners can be purchased at any big box store or pharmacy.

Kitchn has a great recipe meant explicitly for silver jewelry if you want to make your own cleaner. This mixture has baking soda, hot water, table salt, and aluminum foil as the ingredients that will do the most work. You'll need a bowl to mix it all in; cover the inside of the bowl with the foil, then fill the bowl halfway with hot water. Stir in 2 tablespoons each of baking soda and salt.

Soak the jewelry for five minutes max in the solution, and keep pieces from touching each other if you're cleaning more than one at a time. No scrubbing is needed — the mixture will eat the tarnish off. Pull the clean pieces out with tongs and dry them off with a soft cloth.

4. Take your silver jewelry to the pros

If your silver jewelry is in rough shape, consider taking it into a professional to get a deep cleaning. This is also a great idea if you have a piece with a lot of details and gems that you don't want to damage cleaning on your own. At the jeweler's, they'll most likely use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your pieces. However, they also have the tools needed to tighten loose fittings and make other repairs that might be needed.

Hobbyist Geek explains that an ultrasonic jewelry machine cleans and shines jewelry expertly using a mixture of chemicals and ultrasonic waves. There's no need for scrubbing with a toothbrush when using one of these to deep clean your jewelry. You can also purchase these machines to use in your home. Still, they are common in jewelry stores and at the eye doctor's office, where they are used to safely clean peoples glasses.

5. How to safely store silver jewelry

When you're not wearing your silver jewelry, you can help prevent excess tarnishing by properly storing it. The LifeStorageBlog suggests the following tips when it comes to extending the life of your silver jewelry:

  • Always clean dirty jewelry and dry wet pieces before storing them

  • Store different metals and materials separately

  • Store silver in a dry place with low humidity; you can also use silica packets or a dehumidifier to help

  • Store pieces in boxes lined with felt or a felt jewelry bag to help absorb moisture from your jewelry

Whether you keep your jewelry in a box or an armoire, it's easy enough to add in some squares of felt from the craft store. Some jewelry storage boxes will come already padded with felt to help keep your jewelry safe from excess moisture. Keep a soft cloth where you store your jewelry for quick access at the end of the day.