Tuesday, 24 August 2010

How to Clean Silver Jewellery

This week's 'How to Tuesday' comes from Anne-Marie of Handmade by Amo'r.

When sterling silver tarnishes naturally, it can look rather dark and dirty. You can buy commercial dips for cleaning it, but making your own cleanser is a bit more fun and probably cheaper.
The old trick of dipping jewellery into cola or scrubbing with toothpaste gives me the heebie jeebies. While you might get away with it sometimes, these methods are too harsh for most jewellery so it’s not worth risking your treasured baubles and bling.

I find a bread soda solution works perfectly on silver and it is very quick and easy. Do not use it on pearls, gemstones, amber or wood. However, glass or plastic beads will be ok. This should not be done by children as there is a danger of scalding.

So stick on your alchemist’s bib, sorcerer's cape or failing these, a witch’s hat, and let’s get started...

First slap on the kettle to boil while you gather up a non-metallic bowl (e.g. glass or plastic,) a pack of bread soda, a wooden or plastic spoon or similar and some kitchen foil, aka tin foil or aluminium paper. Crumple the foil a little bit and place in the bottom of the bowl, shiny side up.

Spread the jewellery over the foil, ensuring as much contact is made between the foil and the components as you can. Shake enough bread soda on top to cover the pieces.

Here comes the fun bit. Very carefully pour an inch of hot water over the lot and it will bubble up like a witch’s cauldron. Best have the window open as it does smell like wing of bat mixed with rotten egg. The first shot I got of this process in action captured nothing but a cloud of steam. I lost a few precious moments cleaning the lens but if you look closely at this pic, you might catch a glimpse of the bubbles just before they calmed down.

Use a wooden or plastic utensil to flip pieces over and nudge them into the foil.

It only takes a few moments for the jewellery to brighten up. Taking care not to scald yourself, tip the items out into a sieve so as not to lose any and rinse in cool water. Pat dry with a cloth. Tada! All shiny and new. Maintain your silver jewellery in between cleans with a silver polishing cloth, available at any jewellers.

To clean copper, read this article. I’ll be back soon with an overview on caring for various types of jewellery.


  1. Maybe the question is stupid. Is the backing soda the same as bread soda ?

  2. Yeah, it's bread soda in Ireland, baking soda elsewhere.
    Great post, I must try this. I have been using an old toothbrush and breadsoda with cold water to clean my silver which is fine for solid objects like a bracelet, not so easy for chains or delicate items so I am happy to have another method to try - thanks!

  3. Yes that's right, good point! Bread soda is aka baking soda elsewhere or sodium bicarbonate.


    This method involves less scrubbing Scribhneoir so have fun trying it out!

    I'm off for a mini break so if any other questions arise I'll answer tomorrow night.

  4. Wow it actually looks like fun to do cleaning! Fantastic post, very helpful. Thank you! I'm off to find my alchemist's hat :)

  5. I saw that years ago on some tv show for larger things like trophys & christening cups & cutlery. Gave it a go & failed miserably but thinking back they never said anything about contact with the foil & there was way more water. No wonder it didn't work. Cant wait to give it a go again properly :) after getting these detailed instructions how can I go wrong!

  6. Brilliant article - now I know how to do it :)

    If I only could find an alchemist's recipe for tidying my flat in one go, I'd be a happy crafter...so far wafting my knitting needles a few times hasn't brought any results...

  7. Just be careful that you only use genuine silver - i did this a few years back and a friend added her ring to the pot (her boyfriend got it for her as a gift) Mine turned out shiny gorgeous and hers went all sticky and horrible! I was mortified! Look out for the 925 mark girls! :P

  8. Great :) Thanks so much for sharing. Guess what I am going to do tonight :)

  9. hi anne-marie, thanks for this, is really useful ;o)

  10. hah hah Purls, if you find the magic spell for housework will you post it here please???

    Excellent point Tanya. While this method works on some other metals, best stick to .925 sterling silver just in case it goes awry.

  11. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.
    Silver Jewelry Cleaning Solution

  12. Absolutely brilliant and magic. Gosh all the dirt floats to the top and the jewellery is shiny and bright. Just tried it on two pieces I wear very often and now they look great. Thanks for the tips