Jewelry Care: How to Clean Sterling Silver
Routine care keeps high-end jewelry looking its best for years. To get the most out of your jewelry, here's how to clean sterling silver the right way.
Keyword(s): how to clean sterling silver
Silver accessories are a staple in every jewelry box. Yet, many people often make the big mistake of neglecting their sterling silver necklaces, earrings, rings, and pendants.
If not cared for properly, even high-end sterling silver jewelry can appear a little discolored or dirty over time.
This occurs when oxygen or sulfur makes contact with silver, which can tarnish its luster.
To ensure your jewelry continues to look as good as new, learn more about the best ways to care for your Sterling Silver.
Understand the Different Types of Sterling Silver
You must know the different types of sterling silver to care for the jewelry effectively.
The metal's purity will determine how quickly the silver will tarnish.
For example, .950 sterling silver will bend with ease and tarnish at a faster rate than .925. The increased purity means you will have to take greater care of .950.
*99.9% of sterling silver jewelry is .925 Sterling Silver.
It's not uncommon for some silver jewelry to go through an intentional oxidizing process. This intentional darkening of an accessory to make it stand out a little is quite common with Balinese Silversmiths.
Unfortunately, excessive cleaning and polishing can result in a loss of detail. For this reason, we recommend placing oxidized jewelry in a separate area for cleaning.
Preventative Jewelry Care
You're probably familiar with the term "prevention is better than cure". Well, this is certainly true when it comes to sterling silver jewelry.
Aside from buying sterling silver from a reputable silver jeweler, here are the best ways to prevent your sterling silver pieces from tarnishing...
Wear the Items
One of the best ways to prevent sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing is by wearing it.
Your skin's oils can actually help to keep the jewelry clean and maintain its brilliance.
There are certain substances and chemicals that can cause sterling silver to corrode.
You must keep the jewelry away from:
- Household chemicals
- Chlorinated water
- Substances containing sulfur (latex, wool, eggs, mustard, etc.)
- Direct sunlight
So, avoid wearing jewelry when performing household chores. It's also important to put jewelry on last, so it doesn't come into contact with beauty products or perfume.
Polishing is a great way to spruce up sterling silver that hasn't tarnished too much. It's also a helpful way to clean oxidized silver, too.
We recommend using a special silver cloth to polish the accessories. If you don't have one, use a microfiber or non-abrasive cloth.
Never use tissues or paper towels to clean the items, as they could potentially scratch the silver.
The best polishing method is to use back and forth motions that mirror the silver's grain.
You might think rubbing in circles is the best method, but this will only highlight any scratches.
Has polishing not worked? Not to worry, here's how to clean sterling silver at home...
How to Clean Sterling Silver with Home Cleaning Solutions
Polishing sometimes isn't enough to clean your sterling silver.
If you want to know how to clean sterling silver at home, you'll be glad to know there are many options to try.
Soap and Water
Soap and warm water is a classic cleaning method, and it can breathe new life into your sterling silver.
Combine warm water with a mild ammonia, such as phosphate-free dishwashing soap.
This should be your first port of call if polishing doesn't work. Try this before you move onto the following sterling silver cleaning tips.
Baking Soda and Water
If soap doesn't work, combine water with baking soda to make a paste. You should apply a pea-sized amount of the paste to a clean cloth to polish the silver.
If you have stamped, etched or detailed jewelry, we suggest adding more water to make a thinner paste. You should also use a soft-bristled toothbrush to reach any crevices.
Once done, run the item under warm water before drying it with a clean cloth. It may soon look as good as new.
Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
Lemon juice is known for its cleaning properties.
If you want to know how to clean sterling silver, lemon juice and olive oil could be the best option for your item.
All you need to do is mix 1/2 cup of lemon juice with only a tsp. of olive oil in a large bowl.
Dip a small microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution before wringing it out. You can then polish the silver, rinse it under warm water and dry it with a clean cloth.
Baking Soda and White Vinegar
If baking soda doesn't work with warm water, you could always try it with white vinegar, instead.
It's a gentle way to remove heavy tarnishing. Soak the tarnished jewelry in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp. of baking soda.
You should soak the item in the solution for between two to three hours.
Don't be surprised if the solution fizzes!
Baking Soda, Boiling Water, Salt, and Aluminium Foil
If the above didn't work, create a chemical solution from baking soda, salt, boiling water, and foil.
Grab some aluminum foil to line the kitchen sink or glass roasting pan. The dull side of the foil should be placed down.
The next step is to place the jewelry onto the foil and pour boiling water over the items until covered. You should then add 2 tbsp. each of salt and baking soda.
Stir the solution to ensure the baking soda dissolves in the mix, as granules may scratch the metal.
The solution will cause any tarnish to be transferred to the aluminum foil. It may only take between 5 to 10 minutes to see a big difference in your jewelry.
Drain the solution using a colander and rinse the jewelry in warm water, before drying with a clean cloth.
We should warn you, the solution can smell a little like rotten eggs, but it could have your silver looking as good as new.
A Professional Cleaning Service
You will want your jewelry to last for a long time to come. If you don't have time to clean them, or they are too tarnished, take them to a professional silver cleaner.
Also, avoid cleaning old, valuable pieces yourself, and hire professional cleaning services.
Buying unique silver jewelry from a reputable jewelry company and taking care of it properly will give you a lifetime of enjoyment from your piece. As with anything, a little bit of effort goes a long way!