Silver jewelry is incredibly versatile and will is a trend that will never go out of style. Wearing it can even bring health benefits like improving your immune system, your body’s heat regulation, and your circulation.
If you decide to rock real silver, however, you’ll need to educate yourself on the top jewelry cleaning tips. After all, there are few things worse than going to your jewelry box to put on your favorite piece and finding out it’s too tarnished to wear.
Don’t worry, though, we’re here to make sure your silver jewelry always looks as good as new! Here’s an inside look at why silver tarnishes and how to clean sterling silver – the right way!
Why Does Silver Tarnish?
Before diving into the answer to the question: “How do you clean sterling silver?” it’s helpful to understand the different types of silver that are used in jewelry and why it tarnishes in the first place.
First, the two most common types of silver that are used in jewelry design are silverplate and solid sterling. Silverplate is made of a different type of metal base that is then topped with silver using electroplating.
Sterling silver is actually an alloy that is made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of a different type of metal – usually copper. It’s the copper contained in silverplate and sterling that causes it to tarnish.
Pure silver actually won’t tarnish, but it’s too soft to use in jewelry design. That’s why jewelers commonly mix it with other, harder, metals.
“Tarnish” refers to a thin layer of corrosion that forms on the top of the silver surface. It causes a black or dark grey discoloration, which seriously detracts from the look of your jewelry pieces. It’s caused by the other metal’s reaction to the sulfur and moisture that is naturally contained in the air.
If you live in a climate that has high humidity or a lot of air pollution, you’ll need to clean your sliver jewelry more often to keep tarnish at bay. Exposure to other things we often use as part of our daily routine – like deodorant, hairspray, moisturizer, and perfume – can also cause your jewelry to tarnish faster.
How to Limit Silver Tarnish
It’s not possible to prevent all tarnishing, but there are a few things you can do to reduce it. First, make sure to store your silver jewelry in a cool, dry place where it won’t be exposed to sunlight. Also, make sure to take your jewelry off when you wash your hands or shower.
Don’t put it back on again until after you’re done getting ready so the personal care products listed above don’t come into contact with it. Regularly cleaning your jewelry will also prevent tarnish from building up. That being said, let’s move on to our top tips for how to clean sterling silver.
Jewelry Cleaning 101
The gentlest way to clean jewelry made of silver is to simply use a soft polishing cloth and then rinse it in warm water. If it’s really dirty, you can use a solution of gentle dish soap and water or a specialized jewelry cleaning solution. Just make sure you choose a product that’s non-toxic, gentle, and recommended for silver.
If your jewelry has a lot of decoration or small crevices, you can carefully use a soft bristle toothbrush to work the tarnish out of those crevices.
Also note that if your jewelry contains other stones, it may require special care. This is especially true for certain porous gemstones. If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to speak to a professional jeweler or a silversmith to ensure that the product you’re considering is safe.
In some cases, it makes sense to just allow the jeweler to do the cleaning for you. This way you can ensure your jewelry will come back to you looking as good as it did the day you bought it.
Silver Jewelry Cleaning Don’ts
Now that you see how incredibly simple it is to clean silver jewelry, it’s time to cover the most important part – the things you should never use to clean your favorite pieces. You’ll hear a lot of old wives’ tales, and listening to them can cause serious damage.
Many of the following “recommended” cleaning methods are far too harsh and may scratch or otherwise ruin your silver jewelry. Not to mention, they are messy and inconvenient – and there’s just no reason for it!
That being said, DON’T clean your silver jewelry with any of the following:
- Laundry detergent
- Hand sanitizer
- Lemon-lime soda
- Window cleaner
- Hair conditioner
- Lemon juice & salt
It’s hard to believe, but people really do try these things! You can generally get a very high-quality silver jewelry cleaner and a cloth for less than $20, and a single purchase will last the average person for years. Do yourself a favor — leave the kitchen items in the kitchen and clean your silver jewelry the right way.
Rock Your Look, Parent Like a Pro, and More!
Learning the best jewelry cleaning tips will help you make sure that you always look your very best.
Want more tips to help you rock your look, parent like a pro, and more? Spend some time browsing through a few more of our blog posts. You’ll be glad you did!