My mess of a jewelry storage area left me with tangled necklaces, lost earrings, and some really dingy looking sterling silver pieces. The humidity in the guest room where everything had been stashed until just this week (when I made a snazzy herringbone jewelry hook) really took it’s toll on some of my favorite jewelry.
I had bought a bottle of silver cleaner a few years ago, but I’ve been wanting to test a few other solutions I’d seen circulating online. Two slightly different solutions, in fact. The lotion-consistancy potion that came in the bottle from the store does clean some pieces of jewelry well, like rings that you can grip on to and scrub really furiously, and pieces of sturdy flatware and all, but for some things, like, dainty necklaces and items with lots of detail, I’ve been less inclined to want to try and clear up tarnish with anything that requires elbow grease and gritted teeth. And that is why all of my delicate silver is gross.
In addition to the items shown in that first picture, a few other pieces needed to be well-cleaned too. Since I was putting my items to the test, I added to the pile.
This silver cup with lots of handle crevices. Really bad:
A silver candle tray with lots of surface area and hard to clean details:
Most at-home, eco-friendly, super-inexpensive, easy-to-do, fast tutorials that I came across began with the same simple instructions.
1. Line a glass or pyrex pie plate with aluminum foil. Curl it up around the edges, make it a little silver bowl. (Grapefruit is not actually part of this experiment, yo.)
2. Test #1 that I conducted asked that I place items directly in the dry tin foil. Some reports wanted me to make sure they were all touching one another, others didn’t specify such.
3. Sprinkle the items with a few tablespoons of baking soda (I did about 3, enough to lightly coat everything).
4. Submerge those items with hot water. Mine was almost to a boil. Enjoy the sulfuric love emitted from the baking soda and the foil. Twiddle your thumbs for 5 minutes or eat half of a grapefruit. Oh, and the silver cup partially submerged on its side like the Concordia was really just for experimentation, you’ll see.
5. I mixed the pieces around a little bit. One tutorial mentioned that every part should come in contact with the foil; I didn’t see quite how that was possible, but maybe I was over thinking it.
In any case, when I brought the pieces out, it seemed to have worked quite well. I may have been working under a light bulb and look a little yellow-ish, but each of the little die cut areas around the edge were very clean (and from experience, it’s hard to be thorough in those areas with a cloth and cleaning lotion). I won’t go about showing you the rings and other things that were in the Test #1 batch because I’m trying to whittle 109 photos down to a digestible post length, so trust me, they looked like new.
Everything seemed good except for one thing: The silver cup. Admittedly, it was a bit worse off than the rest of the items on my must-silver-clean list, but the baking soda didn’t seem to do anything to clear up the finish, and that surprised me.
But if you caught my mention of it earlier, leaning the cup on its side was just a little bit of a test. I had a second solution that I wanted to try, and along with the cup I had kept my fragile chain necklaces aside to see how it’d perform. Onwards with solution test #2.
What was different about test #2? (Note that I’m no physicist, so I can’t defend which of these variables played a more significant role.)
- It added salt to the mix.
- Before any jewelry was placed on the foil-covered tray, equal amounts of salt and baking soda were dissolved in hot water. Once again, I used 3 TBSP of each the baking soda and the salt.
- The jewelry was dipped in after dissolving the water/salt/soda solution.
Cup resuming its position on its side and jewelry overhanging the edge carefully, I let it soak for 5 minutes (and ate the rest of my grapefruit), and then carefully removed everything.
The necklaces were lovely; all signs of tarnish on and between each link, gone. That’s a big win, I never could have done it with the cleaner I bought at the store.
More surprisingly, the silver cup was highly effected. So clean that you can see me behind the camera in it. Was it the addition of salt in the water that did the trick? Was it the dissolved and foamy baking soda that made it more powerful? Was the tin foil given secret powers with the pre-mix?
Science-y friends, I need to know more. Any ideas?
What other DIY’ed solutions have you tried for cleaning silver jewelry and decor?