Monday, April 5, 2010

Got Silver?

Do you love silver as much as I do? I've collected a few things on my thrift store adventures and I can't say I've ever loved all the elbow grease involved in polishing it. I actually like the patina of tarnish on occasion, but somtimes its nice to see the shine.

Maybe this is a trick everyone knows, but I didn't and I was amazed by it so I thought I'd share it. It reduces and even eliminates the need to polish!

To start, you need to boil water in a pot with a bit of baking soda. I didn't measure it. I just sprinkled some into the water. (Excuse the dust on my stove.)

If you're going to polish something small enough to fit into the pot (like serving pieces, for example), put a piece of aluminum foil into the pot.

When the water boils, turn off the heat. Carefully, drop in the piece you want cleaned. The tarnish will transfer from the silver to the aluminum!

I was cleaning a tray so it was a little more complicated, but I can show you how I cleaned the handles. I just dipped them in. After that handle was clean, I used a pot holder and did the other handle.

Then, I set the tray in my sink.

Using the same idea as the foil in the pot, I just lined the tray with foil.

Then, I slowly poured the hot water onto the tray. Since there's a lip, the water will stay in the tray.

After letting it sit a bit, I turned on the cold water, removed the foil and rinsed off the tray. Here's what the foil looks like afterwards. See the tarnish on the left part of the foil vs. the right side? A little warning ... There was a bit of a sulfer smell during this process but nothing major.

And here's the end result .... This is an old, plated piece so its not perfect but I did it on a tray that I found at a thrift store that was still in the box but black with tarnish and it looks brand new.

This method works best for small pieces that you can just drop into the water. No polishing required at all if you can fit it entirely into the pot. It isn't perfect for trays since its pretty much impossible to get every single area and the back side, but its far less work than polishing the entire piece.

A simple chemical reaction that saves a lot of time and effort. Nothing like a science experiment in the kitchen.


  1. No Way! And I thought using tooth paste was cool.

  2. i've done this before for jewelry. I lined a glass dish with the foil, put the jewelry in, sprinkled on the baking soda and poured boiling water on top.

  3. I just posted about a silver tray I bought at Salvation Army. It was black with tarnish. I read about this silver cleaning method on the internet but my tray was way too big for my kitchen sink so I spent HOURS polishing the old fashioned way...lots of silver polish and elbow grease. After reading your post, it occurred to me I suppose I could have put it in the bathtub and poured the boiling baking soda water over it. Duh!

  4. This is a great idea - I'll have to try it. I LOVE silver. Thanks for this great tutorial.

  5. Thanks for sharing- sounds like a great time saver!

  6. that is such a great idea - I would have never imagined something like that would actually work! I'll have to clean up my silver pieces now!

  7. I had no idea! Going to try it on the weekend. Thanks for the great tip.


Comments? I love comments!