Earl Proulx had a simple solution for practically everything — including household chores. A woman once wrote to him asking how to clean a sterling silver spoon she had left soaking in bleach, causing it to turn “black as an ace of spades.” She’d tried cleaning it with silver polish, but with no luck. He suggested she try the electrolyte method, and gave her instructions to make a homemade silver cleaner that’s easy, uses common household staples, and doesn’t require gloves or messy chemicals. She wrote again to tell him how well the method worked for her. Before she tried it, she thought the spoon was ruined.
Note: This method should be used as a last resort. The electromagnetic reaction that removes the tarnish may also remove the patina, leaving the silver looking flat. Do not use this method for cleaning silver on pieces that have a raised design or on cemented pieces. For help with cleaning valuable pieces of silver, we suggest contacting a silversmith.
Ingredients for Homemade Silver Cleaner:
- 1 quart of hot water
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1 sheet of aluminum foil
- non-aluminum dish
Instructions for Making Homemade Silver Cleaner:
- Line bottom of non-aluminum dish with a sheet of aluminum foil
- Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda into a quart of hot water
- Soak for a half hour — time may vary depending on degree of tarnish
- Buff with clean, dry cloth
The subject: a heavily tarnished spoon
The process: soak tarnished silver in a water/baking-soda bath .
The result: a spoon free of tarnish
Read more advice on polishing silver from the editors of Yankee Magazine.