How to Polish Nickel Silver

Nickel silver is actually not made of silver at all. An alloy metal, it generally contains copper, nickel and zinc. This strong, durable metal is in a variety of surfaces and items, from coins to decorative or functional building materials. Nickel silver can become dirty and tarnished, giving it a dull appearance. Proper cleaning and polishing will restore nickel silver's shine and appeal.

Lay a plastic dropcloth on your work surface to keep it clean and protect it from dirt transfer from your nickel silver.

Mix 2 cups warm water and a quarter-sized amount of dish washing liquid in a bowl. Use dish washing detergent that cuts grease. Dip a clean cloth in your detergent solution and rub the nickel silver surface to remove grease residue, dirt and grime.

Rinse your cleaning cloth, as needed, and wet it with the detergent solution. Continue to scrub until all grease and dirt has been removed, using an old toothbrush on particularly stubborn spots. Rinse the surface with water and dry with a clean cloth.

Pour white spirit into a bowl. Rub the nickel silver surface with the white spirit, using a clean cloth. Remove any last traces of tarnish and stains with the solution.

Use distilled water to rinse the nickel silver surface and remove the white spirit. Dry with a clean cloth.

Polish your nickel surface with a cream polish made specifically for metals, including nickel silver. Rub a soft, fleece-like cloth in the cream and polish the surface with it. Buff the excess polish off and continue to rub the nickel silver surface to a shine.


Vinegar can be used as a degreaser to clean your nickel silver surface, instead of using dish soap. Protect your skin with rubber gloves when you use white spirit. Prevent your nickel silver surface from corroding by rubbing a corrosion inhibitor into the surface.


Wash your skin right away, with soap and water, any time it comes in contact with white spirit or other chemicals.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic dropcloth
  • Bowls
  • Dish washing detergent
  • Clean cloths
  • Old toothbrush
  • White spirit
  • Distilled water
  • Cream polish for metal
  • Fleece cloth
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.