Last weekend, I decided it was time to tackle the behemoth of tarnished silver I’d been avoiding for far too long. If you have your beautiful collection stashed away in hiding like I do, this post is for you! Today I’m sharing how to clean silverware, with this incredibly easy and quick method I recently put to the test. The best part, it’s all natural, using basic kitchen pantry items – no harsh chemicals or anything like that.
My Mama always did her spring and fall cleaning each year, and I’ve started to try to do the same. I’ve been on a deep cleaning kick around our home lately. I’m always cleaning and need things to be neat and tidy for my own sanity and peace of mind, but there are a lot of things I don’t get to enough. I’ve been on a rampage getting into the nitty gritty – degreasing the grout on our kitchen backsplash, removing stubborn hard water buildup in our showers, cleaning out drawers, closets and cupboards. Enter the plethora of our very badly tarnished silverware and silver serving pieces – some pieces were almost black! Which tells you how long I’ve been avoiding this issue, ha!
If I only knew all these years what I know now… Keep reading for this very quick, simple and all natural method for cleaning your silverware, you’ll be amazed.
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HOW TO CLEAN SILVERWARE EASILY AND NATURALLY
I can remember the days as a kid, very laboriously polishing silver for my Mama. Long, boring, smelly, dirty the list goes on…we’d sit for hours cleaning all of her beautiful pieces until they shone brilliantly. I’m sure many of you can relate…
I never liked cleaning my silver and put it off for a very long time, years even. When I discovered how simple and easy it is to clean silverware with this method, it brought me back to my third grade science class.
I actually had fun with this, because the transformation is truly amazing – literally like magic.
WHY DOES SILVER TARNISH?
Well, I’m no scientist, but this whole process is pretty interesting. The silver (in my case, our silver plated flatware and serving pieces) discolors when it comes into contact with sulphur in the air, forming a thin layer of tarnish, called silver sulphide.
The tarnish actually protects the silver believe it or not. Nonetheless, even though some pieces can be pretty with a little patina, heavily tarnished silver is not so pretty.
WHAT YOU NEED TO CLEAN SILVERWARE:
All you need are a few pantry staples and kitchen materials to clean your silverware – baking soda, salt, aluminum foil and boiling water. Depending on how tarnished your silver is, the time it takes will vary.
I’d heard of this method before, but never tried it, I honestly thought there’s no way it’s that simple, so I never bothered. Let me tell you, I was truly amazed. It really is that simple and it was fun conducting this science experiment in our kitchen to clean our silverware!
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN OLD SILVERWARE?
I’d tried a few different home remedies before, none of which really worked that well, or didn’t require a lot of time.
This method is hands down, the best natural method for cleaning tarnished silverware that I’ve ever tried.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN OLD SILVERWARE?
Here’s a step by step how-to that is SO quick and easy:
- Line a pan or baking dish with aluminum foil (I used a 9 x 13″ dish)
- Measure equal parts baking soda and salt (I used sea salt) – pictured below is 1 tablespoon of each
- Mix and spread evenly, covering the whole surface
- Place tarnished silverware in the dish
- Pour boiling water and cover completely (be careful not to burn yourself!)
- Watch in awe as the tarnish disappears in seconds!
We use our silverware everyday, they’re just too beautiful to keep put away. Over time however, they do tarnish. I’ve read that putting them in the dishwasher can tarnish them, as well as certain foods. Ours became quite tarnished as you can see.
Can you believe the transformation? It was really so neat watching how fast the tarnish comes right off of the silver, literally in seconds.
Our silverware is quite old, so there are still a lot of scratches and wear and tear, but that just adds a vintage charm that’s so beautiful.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN BADLY TARNISHED SILVERWARE?
How do you clean silver that has turned black? It takes a little longer to clean heavily tarnished pieces, but I used the same method as above.
Remember how I mentioned that some of our silver pieces are black and in hiding? This footed bowl that was my Mama’s, is one of those pieces, and one of the reasons I’ve been putting this off for so long!
It was daunting to think of how hard it would be to clean, but it was just as simple as cleaning my silverware, and I discovered a really useful trick at the same time for that stubborn tarnish and those pesky dark spots.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN SILVER THAT’S TURNED BLACK?
Using the same method as I used for my silverware, I did this in our sink because I needed a deep basin for this larger piece.
- For large items, line a deep basin or your kitchen sink with aluminum foil
- Measure equal parts baking soda and salt – for this I used 1/2 cup of each
- Mix and spread evenly, covering the whole surface
- Place tarnished silver in the sink
- Pour boiling water and cover completely if possible (be careful!)
- It may take more time to come clean since the piece is more tarnished, make sure to keep rotating it if it’s not fully covered with the water
- I DISCOVERED THIS HACK! For very stubborn tarnish, use a small piece of aluminum foil (you may need a few), very gently wipe the area using the water mixture – the aluminum foil takes it right off. Don’t rub too hard – you can scratch your silver so be very careful!
You can see in the images below how I tackled this one – with a little more time, patience and extra wiping, it is just gorgeous now.
You’ll also notice the handle on the cover of this bowl has sadly broken off. It fell once and broke off and the cover bent also. I sort of stuck the handle back on top so you could see the full beauty of this piece.
This is such a gorgeous piece, even with it’s broken handle and bent cover. It’s now found a new home on our open kitchen shelves, where I can appreciate its beauty and shiny new lustre.
You can take a look at how beautiful it looks in our spring kitchen along with a few other pieces!
I also cleaned our silver tea set and another sugar bowl and creamer set I’ve had for many years. I wish I took a before shot of the creamer and sugar bowl…they were so tarnished, also almost black.
I let these sit overnight as the tarnish was very stubborn. Although, if I had discovered my cleaning hack with the piece of foil when I tackled these, it would have been much faster, I’m sure of it.
You can see in the photos the deeper grooves still have some darker areas, so I’ll need to try and perfect those with my aluminum foil trick.
Nevertheless, they came out so gorgeous and still have that vintage silver charm, like our silverware does, and I absolutely love it.
I have quite a few more silver pieces still hiding away, but so far, I’m just thrilled with my progress.
Now that I’ve discovered how to clean silverware so easily, this simple and natural technique will definitely become part of my regular cleaning regimen from now on. Mama would be very proud! I hope you find this method useful and you’re ready to tackle all that nasty tarnish lurking in your cupboards too. Let me know if you try it! Happy cleaning! xo