How to Clean Tarnished Silver | The Easy Way

Do holiday meals at your house call for silverware made of actual silver? If so, then you likely have on your to-do list to clean and polish the pieces long before dinner is served. Keep reading for Molly Maid’s tips on how to clean tarnished silver without too much effort…

How to Clean Stained Silver With Aluminum Foil and Baking Soda

In this video from the Molly Maid Institute, we show you a quick and easy way to clean up your set of silverware. Start by pulling out a large cookie sheet and lining it with aluminum foil. Then create a mixture of 1 tbsp. baking soda to 2 cups of water, enough to fill the pan to the top lip. Add the mixture and a layer of silverware to the pan, and then place in an oven preheated to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the silverware every five minutes until all stains and tarnish are gone.

Tip: Use tongs to handle the hot pieces. You can also boil the mixture and aluminum foil for 10-second intervals, but this method may result in scratching.

How Aluminum Foil and Baking Soda Work to Clean Silverware

Tarnish is actually silver sulfide that forms on silverware when the pieces come into contact with sulfur-containing substances in the air. (This is why manufacturers recommend keeping pieces in cases that do not regularly get opened and closed like a silverware storage chest.)

The above method uses a metal that also can form compounds with sulfur, in this case aluminum.  When you put silverware into contact with aluminum foil in a baking soda solution, a chemical reaction occurs that creates an electrical current that carries the sulfur atoms from the silver to the aluminum. Once the transfer is complete, you may see the sulfide as pale yellow flakes in the bottom of the pan. The amount of time this takes depends on how tarnished the silverware has become.

Other Quick and Easy Ways to Clean and Polish Silverware

In addition to baking soda, other household items can remove tarnish from silverware, but since many substances remove the tarnish through rubbing you must be careful not to scratch the silverware in the process.

For example, toothpaste has long been used to polish silverware in a pinch. Make sure the toothpaste is smooth and does not contain any granules that can scratch the surface, such as in whitening formulas that use baking soda; the ingredient works in the above method because it simply acts as a conductor and is not rubbed against the silverware.

Ketchup is another cleaner that gets gently rubbed onto silverware to remove tarnish. You may need to let the silverware sit in the ketchup for 15 minute intervals until you see results.

Other Tips for Cleaning Silverware

A soft toothbrush makes an excellent cleaning tool for silverware with fine detail. Simply use it to gently lift tarnish from crevices with your cleaner of choice.

The best way to keep silverware in company-ready shape is to prevent tarnish. As mentioned above, keep it from being regularly exposed to sulfur in the air. Experts also recommend keeping pieces of chalk with the silverware; it will absorb moisture in the air and help to prevent tarnish from forming.

For your home cleaning needs, call the professionals at Molly Maid. Call 1-888-583-6490 now to connect directly with your local Molly Maid. Each maid services team comprises insured, licensed and uniformed housekeepers who are regularly supervised. Click here to request service in your area.

by Molly Maid