Polishing Silver with Baking Soda (and a few other ingredients found in your kitchen) 

July 1, 2023

Sterling or silver-plated pieces and jewelry sold at Cincinnati jewelry stores are beautiful, but tarnish when exposed to air over time.

Taking care of silver, whether you buy it new or at consignment shops like Legacies Upscale Resale, is easy with items found in most kitchens.

Here are some tips inspired by Arm & Hammer:

Method 1: Rub with a Baking Soda Paste

  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 a box of baking soda with water. Form a paste not runny but thoroughly wet.
  2. Put the paste on a cloth or sponge and rub it over the silver.
  3. Wait 30 seconds for lightly-soiled items; leave the paste on for up to 10 minutes for more heavily-tarnished ones.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the silver with cool water.
  5. Dry well, then buff lightly with a soft cloth.

Be sure to get the baking soda out of any nooks and crannies.

Method 2:  Soak in Hot Water, Baking Soda and Foil

This process is best for small pieces like silver jewelry, flatware or napkin rings. The tarnish magically disappears from an electrolytic response, which transmits the tarnish from the silver to the foil.

  1. Line a large glass or metal baking dish with foil, with the shiny side facing up.
  2. Place the silver items into the foil-lined tray. Boil a cooking pot filled with water on the stove or microwave 2 cups of water.
  3. Pour the hot water into the baking dish, covering the silver items completely.
  4. Sprinkle two generous Tbsp. baking soda evenly into the water (or 1 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water) until it starts bubbling.
  5. Soak the silver items in the concoction for half an hour.
  6. Remove the silver from the tray and rinse well. Be sure to get any remaining baking soda out of the crevices.
  7. Dry and buff as in Method 1.

Method 3: Boil in Baking Soda, Foil and Salt

Put dirty silver in a pot lined with foil containing baking soda, salt and water. The boiling water cleans the silver while it tarnishes the aluminum foil.

  1. Line the pot or pan bottom with foil.
  2. Add the silver pieces you wish to clean.
  3. Add 2-3” of water–enough to completely cover the silver.
  4. Add 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt; bring to a boil.
  5. Boil for about 4 minutes.
  6. Use tongs to remove silver items.
  7. Rinse each item well with clean water.
  8. Dry and buff as in Method 1.

Method #4: Soak Wrapped Large Silver Items in Aluminum Foil

This method is similar to Method 2, but meant for heavily-soiled or large silver items like coffee pots or serving trays.

  1. Wrap the silver items (separately) in aluminum foil, with the shiny side toward the silver.
  2. Place items wrapped in foil into a large container like a tub or bucket.
  3. Heat the amount of water needed to totally cover the items.
  4. Cautiously pour the hot water into the tub and add a cup of baking soda for each gallon of water.
  5. Soak items for up to a half hour, depending on how heavy the tarnish is.
  6. Let water cool down or remove items with tongs.
  7. Unwrap items after they have cooled.
  8. Dry and buff as in Method 1.

The best part about cleaning silver with baking soda is that it removes the tarnish without scratching your sliver—and no scrubbing is required.

Baking soda contains no toxins and emits no fumes. You’ll feel good you chose an eco-friendly way to clean your silver.