How to Repair Silver Plating

Silver-plated items are beautiful, with a distinctive look characterised by a brilliant shine. But silver is also highly corrosive and, over time, once-glowing surfaces can turn dark and dull. For silver-plated items, the top layer of silver can often rub off. Refinishing silver, more often than not, requires some cleaning and a bath in a chemical solution that removes the first layer, revealing the underlying shining silver. Immersion products actually add silver to the surface, in those instances where silver polish and cleaning just won't do.

Clean the silver to remove dirt. Many times, what appears to dull the surface of silver is just dirt. Use a gentle cloth and water to clean the silver surface, using a cotton swab for the protected areas.

Use a silver dip to remove tarnish. A silver dip removes the very top layer of the surface and can easily restore a finish. If the item is small, place it into the dip for several seconds and then rinse it completely. For larger items, put the solution on a cloth and gently apply to the item's surface, taking care to rinse completely and dry thoroughly.

If needed, use a silver polish. Often the first two steps are all that is needed to restore silver's shine, but if not, an anti-tarnish silver polish can work by applying the polish to a cloth, and then rubbing onto the item's surface. After polishing to remove grime and restore the shine, rinse the piece completely and dry it.

Try immersion plating if you're still unsatisfied. Although a cleaning and restoring silver polish will restore silver's finish, immersion plating can also restore silver that has worn through. It works by placing an item in an immersion solution with silver particles, which adhere to the copper and brass that has been exposed. This can have satisfactory, temporary results, but if the silver is completely gone, one may have to use the services of a professional to replate it.


Generally, silver that appears to need refinishing is just dirty. Don't use toothpaste as a silver polish because it is highly abrasive. Generally, silver plating that is more extensive than what can be accomplished with an immersion technique requires the help of a professional.


Use any chemicals in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton swab
  • Cotton cloth
  • Silver dip
  • Silver polishing cloth
  • Silver polish
  • Immersion plating silver kit
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About the Author

Egon Schiele is an art connoisseur who has been writing professionally for more than a decade. He works as a practicing attorney, and enjoys writing on many different topics for online publications such as eHow, Trails, and various contributions to blogs as well as print publications aimed at collectors of antiques.