How to clean dirty silver jewelry

Written by penelope lane
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How to clean dirty silver jewelry
Saddle Blanket, Real Simple

When first purchased, silver jewellery is shiny, clean and bright. Over time, silver jewellery dulls and tarnishes due to contact with lotions, skin oils, air sulphides, pollution, dust and dirt. Thorough, regular cleaning of silver jewellery will help illuminate each piece and maintain its natural beauty. Cleaning dirty silver jewellery at home is an inexpensive, easy process.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Inspect jewellery for loose stones, prongs and clasps. If jewellery requires repair, consult a professional jeweller first before cleaning silver at home.

  2. 2

    Rub silver jewellery with a soft cleansing cloth. As silver is a soft metal, use care when polishing to prevent bending or scratching the jewellery piece. Gently buff surface dirt and oils off the silver jewellery, utilising a soft-bristled toothbrush or watercolour paintbrush for small, hard-to-reach crevices and grooves.

    How to clean dirty silver jewelry
  3. 3

    Choose a mild cleansing agent for silver jewellery. Investigate gentle silver jewellery cleaning products or create a homemade cleaning formula (see Resources below). Consider using the popular Sunshine Cloth. Do not use bleach, alcohol or ammonia, as these harsh chemicals will damage and possibly ruin silver jewellery. Additionally, avoid grainy, textured home cleansing products. For extremely dirty jewellery pieces, consider a cleansing dip method, utilising a stronger cleansing product (such as Goddard's Silver Dip). However, some dips with remove polish off gemstones and could potential ruin jewellery.

  4. 4

    Gently dampen the silver jewellery. Add a small amount of the delicate cleansing agent to the soft cloth. Test a small area of the silver jewellery first, to ensure safe and effective application. If the cleansing agent is determined appropriate, rub and polish the silver gently with the cleansing cloth, utilising an up-and-down motion (not circular). The solution may darken during the process. Simply rinse the cloth in warm water and repeat the cleansing process.

  5. 5

    Dry silver jewellery. Once fully-clean, dry silver jewellery with silver wipes, rouge cloth or a 100% cotton towel. Be watchful of jewellery beads, stones, prongs and delicate designs.

  6. 6

    Store silver jewellery properly. When not wearing jewellery pieces, store them separately in soft, lined boxes or jewellery bags. Do not place them on wood or store items together. Avoid storing the pieces in high-heat and humid areas. Consider purchasing tarnish-resistant silver storage boxes for long-term use.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not wear silver jewellery in pools or hot tubs.
  • Be careful of delicate jewellery and gemstones; If in doubt about cleansing process, consult a jeweller for proper procedure or professional cleaning services.

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