How to clean and polish silver jewelry at home

Silver jewellery develops tarnish, a dull dark coating that detracts from your jewellery's usual shine. Preventing tarnish build-up makes the cleaning process simple and fast. Whether the jewellery needs a touch up or significant cleaning, learning the basics will prepare you to tackle the job. To clean and polish silver jewellery at home requires only basic supplies and household products. Cleaning your silver jewellery is a straightforward, nontoxic process. With the right items, you can clean silver jewellery quickly and confidently to keep it gleaming.

Mix six drops of liquid soap such as Castile soap or mild dish washing soap in a 1/2 cup of warm water. Wet a soft cloth with the mixture and gently rub the silver jewellery.

Rub all of the surface area of the silver jewellery with the cloth. Rinse the jewellery with cool water. Polish the silver by buffing it with a dry lint-free cloth such as microfiber or all-cotton T-shirt material.

Mix equal parts of baking soda and warm water if any tarnish remains, or if the jewellery is heavily tarnished. Cleaning silver jewellery with the soap solution first reduces the risk of scratches from any debris that may be on the jewellery. Apply the baking soda paste with a clean lint-free cloth.

Rub the baking soda silver polish into grooves and textures on the silver jewellery and on tarnish-prone areas near stone settings and jewellery catches. Use a fresh area of the cloth on each part of the jewellery when you're cleaning large or highly tarnished items. This avoids rubbing the removed tarnish on the silver.

Rinse the silver jewellery with cool water when you've finished removing the tarnish. Use a dry lint-free cloth and buff the silver jewellery by rubbing it in short strokes with the cloth. This restores the lustre of your silver jewellery.


Put your jewellery on last, if you use cosmetics, hairspray, fragrances or other products. This will help to protect your jewellery. Wearing your favourite silver items frequently helps to reduce tarnish build-up. Jewellery boxes with anti-tarnish lining help to prevent tarnish.


Choose alternatives to commercial silver polish, which contains solvents. Solvents can harm your health and accidental ingestion can be fatal. Long-term exposure to products containing solvents may result in liver and kidney problems, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and cancer. Soaking silver jewellery can increase tarnish. Don't use scrub sponges, paper towels or abrasive cleansers on silver as these textures can leave permanent scratches in the metal.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm water
  • Mild dish soap or liquid Castile soap
  • 2 lint-free soft cloths, such as all-cotton T-shirt rags or microfiber cloths
  • Baking soda
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About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.