How to clean sterling silver jewelry with baking soda

Photos by Ruby Bayan.

Sterling silver reacts with moisture to create a layer of tarnish or oxidation on its surface. Baking soda activated by boiling water in the presence of aluminum, will dislodge the tarnish by making it bind with the aluminum, leaving the sterling silver clean and shiny again. This is the simple, organic way to clean and polish your sterling silver jewelry.

Boil just enough water to submerge all of the sterling silver pieces.

Use aluminum to remove tarnish from sterling silver.

Line a glass or plastic dish with a slightly crumpled piece of aluminum foil. If you have a small aluminum pan that you won't be needing for food preparation again, use that instead.

Lay your jewelry on the aluminum, making sure the silver touches the aluminum.

Sprinkle baking soda on the jewelry.

Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the jewelry.

Pour boiling water on the baking soda.

Pour enough boiling water to immerse the jewelry. Bubbling should occur, giving off a rotten-egg odor (the sulfuric gases released by the cleaning action).

Move the pieces around gentle with a wood or plastic utensil to ensure that all of the silver surfaces come in contact with the aluminum. You will notice that the silver has become bright again.

Rinse the jewelry under tap water. To ensure that you don't lose small pieces like earrings and pendants, put a sieve over the drain to catch whatever may slip off your fingers.

Clean and shiny sterling silver jewelry

Wipe the pieces gently with an absorbent towel and polish with a soft cloth.

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