How to Clean Silver With Green Ingredients

Tarnished silverware
You can use potatoes to clean up that silverware set without the nasty chemical polish. (Photo: vaivirga/Shutterstock)

Typically, many people take out their nice silver for “special occasions.” However, despite the many events that qualify, the silver may still sit unused in the fancy cupboard you bought to house it, tarnished beyond recognition. You want to bring it out, but silver polishes often contain harsh chemicals: bad for the environment and for your family.

So how can you get your silver shiny without harming the earth and its inhabitants? Here are some natural ways to clean silver – both your cutlery and your jewelry – so you can schedule that next dinner party, and have something sparkly to wear to it.

1. Toothpaste

Squeeze a dab of organic toothpaste on a piece of cloth or flannel, and rub onto silver.

2. Baking Soda and Water

Mix baking soda and water to make a paste, then rub silver with it.

3. Water, Baking Soda, and Aluminum Foil

Place silver cutlery and/or jewelry in an aluminum pan or a baking dish lined with foil. Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the pieces. Pour boiling water over top and allow it to soak for about 15 minutes. The tarnish will magically appear on the foil rather than the silver.

4. Aluminum Foil and Vinegar

Line the base of a skillet with foil, shiny side facing upward. Mix 1 cup vinegar per quart of water, and bring liquid to a boil. Place silver into boiling water and soak for about five minutes before turning off stove. Remove silver pieces and rinse them with hot water. Wipe dry with soft cloth.

5. Rubbing Alcohol

For mild mineral spots or residue, combine 1 part rubbing alcohol and 4 parts water in a bowl, dip a clean cloth or rag into the mixture, and rub over silver. Then wipe dry with a clean cloth.

Once the silver is shiny again, how do you keep is so? Store silver in anti-tarnish bags or wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and sealed in a zip-top bag. Also, do not wear rubber gloves or store anything rubber near the silver, as rubber corrodes silver.