How to Clean Silver Jewelry
Despite its versatility, silver is a fragile metal compared to many more commonly used metals – it can quickly develop tarnish, stains or scratches. Many people shy away from cleaning silver pieces because the metal is so delicate and the tarnish seems so irreversible.
Using common household items to clean silver, such as toothpaste or baking soda, increases the likelihood that you'll damage the silver due to the products' abrasive nature. Silver polish is also somewhat abrasive, and can be extremely toxic. It often contains both hydrocarbons and ammonia, which can lead to breathing difficulty upon inhalation and skin irritation, among other dangers.
Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is non-abrasive and non-corrosive, so it can safely restore shine to sterling silver and bring your tarnished silver pieces back to life.
- Wet: Run your jewelry under clean water. Wetting the pieces first will ensure the Simple Green can better penetrate the soils. Be sure to avoid boiling water or hot water, especially if your jewelry contains fragile precious stones. Drastic temperature changes can cause stones to crack more easily. It can also cause metal to expand, loosening settings.
TIP: When you're rinsing your jewelry, use a kitchen strainer to make sure you don't accidentally drop any pieces down the drain.
- Soak: Pour full strength Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner into a cup or jar and soak the jewelry for about 10 minutes.
- Scrub: If necessary, gently scrub to remove any dirt with a soft bristled toothbrush or damp cloth. Its important for the toothbrush bristles to be as soft as possible – harsh bristles can scratch the silver.
TIP: When you're finished soaking and scrubbing, pour the used Simple Green in the sink. You can use it to quickly wipe down your sink and help deodorize your drain.
- Rinse with clean water: Run the jewelry under clean, warm water.
- Pat dry: Dry each piece of jewelry completely with a soft cloth. Hard-to-reach crevices can be dried using a cool setting on a hair dryer.
TIP: Regardless of how well you clean it, all silver will tarnish when it's exposed to air and light. Tarnish happens when silver combines with sulfur and creates silver sulfide, darkening the surface. Here are a few easy ways to slow the tarnishing process:
- Store pieces individually in anti-tarnish bags and store them in a cool, dry place. Add a piece of chalk to each anti-tarnish bag to further remove moisture from the air.
- Put on jewelry last. Allow items like makeup, lotion, perfume, and hairspray to dry completely before putting on jewelry. This will prevent anything from transferring or sticking to jewelry.
- Wearing your silver actually slows down tarnishing. The more you wear it, the longer it will remain shiny.
Do not use Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner or any other degreaser to clean pearls, opals or emeralds. A degreaser can remove the oils with which these gems are treated, removing their luster and causing damage. We also do not recommend cleaning costume jewelry – this should be cleaned only with warm water.