Cleaning sterling silver and maintaining it in a good condition

Sterling silver has a nice glow and comes in many detailed pieces and decorations. Silver is known to develop a patina that enhances its beauty, especially with carved or ornate pieces. Unfortunately, silver does indeed tarnish when exposed to salts, acids, and oxygen. The good news is that this can be easily cleaned and with regular maintenance, you will be able to keep it under check.

Sterling silver pieces have a marking that is 925. It shows that the piece contains 92.5 % silver and 7.5 % other metals, usually copper or nickel. The reason for that is that pure silver is extremely soft and pieces made of it can be bent very easily so jewellery and pieces made of it would be incredibly inconvenient. Any item with that mark is made of solid silver and it is not simply plated with the metal.

Storing plays a big role in maintaining silver in good condition. How often you clean it depends on the storing conditions, as well as how often you wear the jewellery. If the silver is looking dark and cloudy, it is probably time to remove the tarnish. It will not go away on its own so you must take care of it. For pieces you wear or use every day, you should clean them every month or two.

There are a few ways in which you can take care of your beloved silver pieces. This article will show you the different ways in which you can take care of them.

Clean silver with a commercial silver polish

  1. Wash the silver – When worn, silver gathers loose dirt, dust, and body oils. To remove some of them, wash the silver in warm, soapy water. Use a non-abrasive damp sponge to wipe the dirt away, then ‘’rinse with another damp sponge’’.

  2. Read the label – Always check the instructions on the packaging of the commercial silver polish product that you chose to use. Here are a few tips on how to make the cleaning of the silver more efficient:

  • Do not use too much of the product, A little bit goes a long way, and overusing it may cause some of the product to get trapped into detailed ornaments and engraved areas.

  • Keep turning the cloth or sponge to a clean area, as the tarnish transfers onto it. That way you will prevent it from depositing back onto the silver.

  • Make sure you are using a non-abrasive cloth or sponge when cleaning.

  • Rinse well in warm water and immediately buff with a dry, lint-free microfiber cloth. That will give your silver a nice shine.

  • Avoid using rubber gloves when working with silver – it may react with the metal and cause spotting or staining. Wear cotton or synthetic fibre ones.

  • If cleaning ornate silver with a lot of detail and crevices, use liquid silver polish. Paste formula will cause it to be trapped in tiny detailed areas.

To wash silver with baking soda

  1. Wash the silver in warm, soapy water. That way you will remove any trapped in loose dust and soil. Dry the pieces with a lint-free microfiber cloth to remove water spots and light tarnish that causes your metal to look dull.

  2. Make a paste – Use one part water and three parts baking soda in a small bowl.

  3. Apply the paste – Wet the silver and use a soft sponge or a cloth to apply the paste. Work in small areas in a circular motion to remove the tarnish from the surface of the silver. Keep moving to a clean part of the cloth/sponge as the tarnish transfers.

  4. Rinse and dry – Wash the paste away with cool water and immediately dry buff the silver to a shine using a lint-free microfiber cloth.

Extra tip – If you have ever seen cleaning methods using aluminium foil and boiling water, make sure not to use it with fine silver. It can be rather rough and remove too much patina from your silver pieces. This will, unfortunately, remove some small details and ornate parts will be lost. Be careful if attempting to clean silver in this way.

How to maintain your silver tarnish-free and beautiful looking?

  • Make sure to use the silver regularly. When worn often, silver will not become tarnished so easily due to the friction from regular wearing.

  • Store any silver pieces in an anti-tarnish cloth that will prevent them from becoming dull-looking. It will also prevent the air from darkening the surface of the silver.

  • Use chalk or silica bags in the storage area of the silver. They will absorb excess moisture which can cause faster tarnishing of your silver.

  • Wear cotton gloves when handling or cleaning silver. You will prevent tarnish caused by body salts and oils, as well as fingerprints and other spots.

  • When using perfumes or hairsprays, make sure your sterling silver pieces are off. Put them on last, after they are done with everything else. That way you will prevent interaction with the chemicals.