How to Get Rid of Tarnish on Silver

By Subodh / July 4, 2011

Tarnish of silver is caused by a certain chemical reaction that causes your flatware, dishware, and vases to become discolored. The blackening of the items is caused by the presence of silver sulfide formed on the surface of each metal item.

If you are experiencing this problem with your dishes, flatware, or d├ęcor, you might be looking for a way to renew it. It is possible to make each piece look as if you just bought it by just using a simple cleaning guide.

Some practical tips and solutions for removing tarnish from silver are shown below:

    • Create a homemade tarnish removal paste. This can be done using just baking soda, boiling water, and aluminum foil. The first step would be to line the bottom of a pan with aluminum foil and then the silver pieces should be set on the foil.
    • Once the pieces you want to treat are touching the aluminum foil you should pour the boiling water into the dish or pan. Each object you want to remove the tarnish from should be covered completely in the hot water and then baking soda should be added.

It is the transfer of the aluminum to the metal spoons, forks, or other dishes that removes the tarnish. The baking soda helps speed up this very helpful cleaning process.

  • After the initial tarnish removal process, you will want to immediately wash the silver. The patina (outer surface of the silverware) is enhanced with regular cleaning by hand.
  • This usually just requires a small amount of mild dish soap and water. Use a soft dish towel for this purpose and attend to each piece you wipe very carefully.

Alternative Method

If you would rather purchase a specialized silver cleaner you can do that. Commercial products are designed for this purpose that work in a similar way as the methods shown above.

If you wish to purchase a commercial product for the removal of stains on your dish and flatware read the labels. It helps to choose as non-toxic of a remedy as possible.

Preventative Tips

Prevention of tarnish build-up is just as important as removal of tarnish. One way to stop these stains from growing on your precious flatware and dishware is to keep them away from rubber.

For instance, you should not let the silver come in contact with rubber bands or certain types of place mats or dish mats. Some silverware holders are also not recommended for use because they could cause tarnishing.

Other preventative tips are shown below:

  • Never mix stainless steel flatware with silver-plated flatware. You should also not mix either of these with fine silver. Otherwise, a reaction between these variations of metal could occur.
  • Never keep your flatware or dishware exposed to food for long periods. You are advised to wash each piece as soon as you are finished with it. You should especially not leave mustard, mayonnaise, or eggs on your serving dishes and eating flatware or utensils.
  • Use of your silverware on a regular basis can prevent tarnishing. Therefore, as pretty as they look you may not want to just have them only for decoration.