How to clean silver trophies

Written by john birch
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How to clean silver trophies
Silver trophies will eventually tarnish in contact with the air. (steel trophy image by Paul Moore from

Silver is a fairly soft metal, and for items larger than jewellery, a small per cent of metal such as copper is added to give extra strength. The resulting material is known as sterling silver and is 92.5 per cent pure or higher.

Whether pure or sterling, silver eventually tarnishes in contact with air. It begins to turn pink, gradually fading to brown to grey or black. It is a chemical process, as sulphur compounds in the air react with the silver to form silver sulphide.

Commercial cleaning compounds are available, some of which can scour the surface of the trophy. However, this homemade solution works well.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Large pot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Boiling water
  • Aluminium foil
  • Tongs
  • Clean cloth

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  1. 1

    Cover the base of the pot with aluminium foil

  2. 2

    Pour enough boiling water into the pot to cover the trophy. Stir in and dissolve the salt and baking soda.

  3. 3

    Use tongs to lower the trophy into solution. Leave for up to an hour if badly tarnished.

  4. 4

    Carefully remove the trophy from the solution and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Tips and warnings

  • To help prevent tarnishing, store silver away from dust and grime and keep humidity levels low. If the trophy is stored in a box, include a few silica gel packets in the container. Handle the trophy as little as possible or use cotton gloves, as sweat has a corrosive effect on silver.
  • Handle the trophy carefully in and out of the boiling water, using tongs or an appropriate tool.
  • Dispose of the used solution safely.

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