Cleaning Silver – The Lazy Way

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment on yesterday’s post.  You’re all so sweet and I appreciate each and every message of support!  It’ll all work out, and in the meantime, we’re crossing things off the summer bucket list left and right!

As Cruise Director, I’m pretending things I do around the house are big ol’ science experiments for the entertainment of the children.  I had Sean help me clean silver jewelry and flatware and learn about oxidation and he was all over it.  Oh yeah, baby, it’s educational!!!

This is the easiest way to clean silver jewelry!!  You must give it a try.  

First of all, a little background on silver:  Silver is a soft metal, so for the purpose of creating jewelry, bowls, platters or flatware, it is mixed with other metals to give it strength.  It is actually the other metals (most commonly copper) that react with the air and cause tarnish.  Silver is deemed “sterling” when it is at least 92.5% silver.  The higher the silver content, the less a piece will tarnish, so it’s worthwhile (especially for the lazy girl) to invest in sterling.

Here is my sterling silver pendant.  Over time it darkens and loses it’s luster.

Place the tarnished silver in an aluminum baking pan or pie plate, or line a dish with tinfoil.  Boil water.  Sprinkle baking soda over the silver piece, then pour the boiling water on it, and watch the tarnish just disappear!  It’s magical!

After the boiling water and baking soda does it’s work, take the silver piece out, rinse it off and rub any residual tarnish or baking soda off with a cloth or paper towel.
Much better!

I tried this method on my Lisa Leonard Itty Bitty Hearts necklace.  I know these necklaces are very popular so I’ll share with you my experience.

While the charms did noticeably brighten, the reaction wasn’t nearly as magical – it turns out those charms are actually pewter, hanging on silver rings (this may not be true for other brands of charm necklaces).  Pewter can be cleaned with baking soda, but it is not going to be that bright silver of sterling – it’s just not it’s natural color.  Still, I think the charms are much improved, don’t you?

Beware when cleaning any jewelry with pearls – they are very delicate and the finish on them can be ruined by jewelry cleaners.  I was wary even with baking soda, so I used this method to clean the charms:

1) line a shot glass with tinfoil, 2) add a scoop of baking soda, 3) pour boiling water in to glass, 4) have your 10 year old assistant dip charms into glass by holding onto the pearl.


Edited to add:
I also cleaned these bracelets….the top is silver plated, the middle has some kind of natural blue stone (lapis lazuli maybe?) set in sterling, and the third has colored enamel set into sterling.  The boiling water and baking soda did not harm any of them.  I believe this method is very safe and gentle – it has never harmed any of my jewelry – but I still don’t want to take any chances with the delicate pearl.

This method is also fabulous for cleaning silver flatware.  One of the treasures I brought home from Mom’s was her set of silver-plated flatware that she received as a wedding present from her sisters.  The set hasn’t been used in many years.

I gave them a baking soda-boiling water bath in a tinfoil lined pan, turning over after a minute or so….

…and look at the difference – labor-free!!
I’m telling you, this is even easier than my Lazy Girl’s Ironing Method.
After I got these all cleaned up and beautified, Mom told me that she secretly always disliked this set because the pieces are not comfortable to hold or eat with.  Super.  But at least they are pretty!
That’s my big tip for the day:
aluminum pan or foil + baking soda + boiling water =
lazy girl’s guide to cleaning silver!

 Happy happy happy day my lovelies!!!