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How to clean nickel or silver

Updated November 21, 2016

Cleaning metals can be difficult; what cleans nickel may turn silver black and harsh chemicals will scratch both. Nickel silver, an alloy made of 75 per cent copper, 20 per cent nickel and 5 per cent zinc, resembles silver. It may be cleaned with the same chemicals safe for silver. Some commercial silver cleaning polishes will also work on nickel, although you will not get a high gloss finish on nickel. All three metals should first be washed with warm water and a mild detergent to remove dirt.

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  1. Wash the item with a mild detergent in warm water. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft lint-free cloth.

  2. For stubborn stains you can make a paste of baking soda and water. Place the baking soda in a plastic container and add just enough water to make the paste. Cover the item with the paste and allow to dry. Run under warm water and buff dry with a soft-lint free cloth.

  3. Use a commercial silver cleaning polish on silver and nickel if the baking soda paste does not remove the stain or tarnish. Apply and use according to package directions. Dry thoroughly and buff with a soft cloth.

  4. Use Sunshine polishing cloths on all three metals if they just need to be cleaned and polished. This product contains non-toxic chemicals that will not scratch the metals, it will remove mild tarnish from silver, and leaves a nice shine after buffing.

  5. Cover heavily stained nickel or nickel silver in a bath of one part ammonia to three parts water. Use a deep plastic container for the bath that is deep enough to completely submerge the item. Allow to soak for half an hour before removing. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

  6. Tip

    If you cannot remove a stain or tarnish from your metal object, take it to a professional cleaner specialising in metals.


    Do not use brillo pads or steel wool on nickel silver, nickel or silver; it will scratch the metals. Do not use cleaning agents meant to be used on hard surfaces like bricks or stone.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Plastic container
  • Soft, lint-free cloths
  • Commercial silver cleaning polish
  • Sunshine polishing cloths
  • Deep plastic tub
  • Ammonia

About the Author

Contributing Writer
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