Homemade Silver Cleaner | Polish Silver without Harsh Chemicals

Can't find anything to take tarnish off silver. Follow these instructions to mix up a homemade silver cleaner that uses common household staples and contains no harsh chemicals.

3.64 avg. rating (72% score) - 51 votes

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.

  • This does work, use shiny side of foil tho’ and you could try adding the salt. Worked both ways for me :)

  • Shirley

    Thank you Richard for teaching me my “learn at least one new thing every day” so early in the day – it’s before 7 a.m. where I live. I didn’t know such a product existed and am assuming washing soda is found with laundry detergents, etc. I will look for some when I shop next.
    Shirley Stewart
    Penticton, BC Canada

  • The only reason this method wouldn’t work is if the metal in’t silver. Silver turns black. If you see white tarnish its aluminium with a silver plate that’s worn off. If its green then its brass with the silver plate worn off. The black will come off. I think adding vinegar will speed the process but pit the surface, destroying silver plate quickly. For vintage/heirloom pieces use a quality polish as the author recommends.

  • Toothpaste is the secret ingredient that worked for me. Thanks for the suggestion. I first used used Baking Soda and lemon juice, which did a pretty good job, but the toothpaste really got almost all the last hard to get tarnish. Washed it off and buffed it up after, as I think you always have to do to get that shine.

  • This post is just what I needed. I needed my silver cleaned for so long. Thanks for sharing <3

  • My daughter added bleach to the water and didn’t realize our silverware utensils were soaking. Needless to I thought I had lost half of my silverware. The utensils were badly tarnished. I used a combination of toothpaste, soapy water ( dish soap) and I used your homemade polish of the foil, boiling water, baking soda, table salt and sea salt. My set was so badly tarnished from the bleach that I had to scrub and soak them in the solution four times. I am happy to say my silverware is back sparkling as if nothing ever happened to them. I am so happy, this utensil set is old and has been passed down, I am the third generation, I thought i had lost half my set. Thanks for the tip.

  • p.s.elliott

    Test solution on a small out of the way area, such as the bottom of either, and test only with a small amount.

  • Wow! That is something new! To clean silver with simple baking soda sounds almost impossible! I will definitely try this unusual and curious way of silver cleaning! Regards!Clerkenwell Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  • Hi Mary,
    Please be sure to read our note about this being a last resort method in the opening paragraph. While this method will remove the tarnish without chemicals, it can leave your silver looking flat.

  • I am going to try this on an antique silver tea pot and serving platter I inherited from Grandmother. Any suggestions before I do?

  • This method has worked great for me for many years. I use a Pyrex 9×13 cake pan or measuring cup. First put in a single sheet of Reynolds Wrap. Place item. Tea kettle boiling water. Pour water level over item slightly. Add baking soda. It reacts with fizzing. Let set 15 to 30 minutes. Remove and rinse under cold water. Dry. If let dry on its own stain will set. To repeat use another fresh tin foil. Merry Christmas.

  • Betsy is right about the salt, but not the vinegar (the acid and the baking soda just neutralize each other). Washing soda is a whitening agent, but I doubt it would remove silver tarnish.

    Instructions I’ve seen before for this method say to head the solution, I think. I have used it with excellent results, but there’s one important caveat…

    This process dulls the silver–i.e., you get the tarnish off, but the finish is no longer shiny. Perhaps a rubbing-compound polish would restore the sheen.

  • I used this tonight for a tarnished James Avery ring. It worked wonders. The extra ingredients not listed are:


    Worked like a champ and fast. I thought my ring was ruined but this proved otherwise.

  • Brenda

    Hi Nancy — When we tested this method, we had the shiny side up. Results will vary based on the degree of tarnish.

  • Nancy

    this didn’t work at all for me. Does it matter which side is up on the foil?

  • I used this method this morning and it worked an absolute treat using baking soda. Thank you so much! My silver is sparkling!

  • Richard

    You need to use WASHING SODA, not baking soda. Arm & Hammer makes it. It’s used in for laundry.

  • Tried this recipe for homemade silver dip. Went exactly according to the letter
    or description.. Didn’t remove any tarnish from the silver at all. There must be
    an ingredient or a step or two missing.


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