How to Refurbish Silver Plated Items

How to Clean Silver Plate Without Chemicals

how to clean silver plated items with aluminum foil
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Some people avoid purchasing silver plated trays and other items because of how time-consuming they are to polish. Don't be deterred. There's an easier way to clean silver plate that won't test your patience. 

Over time, silver will eventually tarnish and dull. There are things you can do to slow this process down, but ultimately the item will need to be restored if you want it back to looking like new. 

If you have silver in need of restoration and cleaning, there are tons of products on the market. However, before you buy a silver polish, try out this natural method with items from your pantry. Not only will it save you money, but cleaning silver this way is much less labor intensive.

Assess the Silver Item in Question

polishing antique silver plate
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Before you clean silver, figure out the basic characteristics of the item. Is it solid silver or silver plate? Is it old? How much is it worth?

If you inherited antique silver, be sure to check with a local antique dealer as to the value. If you want to sell the item, they can help you decide whether or not it's best to leave the item in as-is condition.

Restoring silver is a hotly debated topic in the antique market. Some people think polishing causes damage and reduces the value. Others want the item to look as new as possible. Some want to leave only a portion of the tarnish intact to show character. 

If you aren't planning on reselling the silver plated tray or item any time soon, then silver restoration is to your discretion. Clean the item to your liking. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. 

Gather Supplies

supplies to remove tarnish from silver
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You'll Need:

  • Boiling water
  • Aluminum foil
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Bucket

You'll need roughly 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of baking soda for every gallon of water used. Pick a bucket that is large enough for the silver to lay flat and be covered in the liquid. 

Line the Bottom of a Bucket with Aluminum Foil

how to refurbish silver plate
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Put a few sheets of aluminum foil on the bottom of your container and make sure that the shiny side is facing up. For this process to work, you'll need the silver to be directly touching the foil.

We opted to lay the silver tray down before adding the other ingredients to minimize splashing. Some people wait to add the silver until after the water has been added. If you do this, be sure to use tongs. 

Sprinkle Salt and Baking Soda on Foil

natural way to clean silver
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Sprinkle equal parts salt and baking soda on top of the aluminum foil. In this case, we sprinkled the mixture on top of the silver plated tray since it was heavy and already in the bucket. 

Slowly Pour Boiling Water Into the Bucket

removing tarnish from silver
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Bring water to a boil and carefully pour it into the container. You'll want to make sure the bucket you're using is deep enough to withstand the fizzing that will happen once the water hits the baking soda and salt. 

When pouring, stand back because the steam could potentially burn your skin and the smell is not pleasant. Add enough water so that the silver is completely covered. If you wait until after mixing your ingredients to dunk the silver, estimate how much water you'll need. 

Wait for Tarnish to Go Away

cleaning silver plate
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In most instances, you'll notice the tarnish start to dissolve immediately. If some tarnish is being stubborn, add more salt, baking soda, or water. Also, make sure that the aluminum foil is shiny side up and that it is in direct contact with the silver plated item. 

Some people let their silver sit for a minute or two. Others leave the silver for up to a half hour. You'll be able to tell how long your silver will need based on how much tarnish is still left on the piece.

To see if the silver is ready, carefully remove it from the hot mixture with tongs and wipe with a soft rag. If there is still tarnish, place it back in the bucket for a little longer.

Be aware that some darker spots could be the base metal underneath showing through, which happens a lot on older pieces that have had their silver plating polished and worn down over time. 

Rinse and Dry the Silver Plated Item Completely

how to clean silver
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Once you remove the silver plated tray from the bucket, make sure to rinse it with clean water thoroughly. Any leftover salt and baking soda residue could speed up the tarnishing process in the future.

Dry with a soft rag and make sure there is no moisture left, which could also cause the silver to re-tarnish rather quickly. Enjoy your shiny silver that required zero elbow grease!