The Best Way To Clean Your Silver Jewelry

Silver jewelry is timeless, but that does not mean its sparkle will last forever — without proper maintenance, at least. Real silver jewelry — which is made of more than 92.5% silver — tarnishes in the elements, per Cosmopolitan. But the silver itself is not what reacts, rather the remaining metals in the piece, notes Hero Bullion. And the piece could be reacting to nearly anything — the lotion you apply to your wrists while wearing a silver bracelet; chemicals from your hairspray that spritz your silver earrings; even simply the natural air outside and its pollutants, assuming you sometimes leave the house. Even if you store your silver properly, ideally in a microfiber baggie far from heat and humidity, your silver jewelry will likely require cleaning at some point.

While you can always drop off your silver jewelry to be cleaned by a local jeweler, taking care of your special pieces at home is just as well. There is a range of silver-cleaning products and methods out there that will brighten up your silver in no time at all. 

Silver that looks brand new

Should the dullness be minimal, cleaning your silver jewelry is as easy as first soaking the piece in a bowl with warm soapy water, then lightly brushing the jewelry, per Cosmopolitan. It is wise to use some kind of natural-fiber brush (horsehair brushes are often included in silver cleaning kits) for their gentleness in cleaning jewelry. 

Perhaps the tarnish is slightly more significant. In this case, you might want to break out your lab coat and experiment with this silver-cleaning chemical cleanse. Line a bowl with aluminum foil and softly place your silver jewelry on top. Then, pour boiled water over the pieces and stir in a dash of baking soda (about one tablespoon per one cup of water, per Cosmopolitan.) Once the jewelry has soaked, pour out the *no longer boiling* water to reveal silver that looks brand new. What happened in that bowl? Science, of course. Also, to make the process happen a little faster, you can add a half cup of white vinegar (when you use one cup of water) to shake up the chemical reaction, per Apartment Therapy.

Should you be looking for a chemical reaction in a bottle to save yourself the hassle, you can try buying a silver polish — Apartment Therapy recommends Wright's Silver Cream. Rub the polish on your pieces then rinse them off in the sink. Buff the jewelry with a clean cloth and voila! Good as new.

How to treat your jewelry right

As important as it is to know how to treat your jewelry right, you should also be aware of the ways you could treat your jewelry wrong. For starters, know that silver polish is only meant for silver jewelry. Definitely do not use toothpaste — or any other abrasive household product like bleach — on your jewelry, either. The best way to keep your jewelry in good condition is to put it on after you have finished your hair and makeup, take it off before getting in the shower, and store it properly for wear the next day. Your pieces will reward you with their shimmering beauty!

Naturally, you may wonder, how often should you really clean your jewelry to keep it in tip-top shape? Tiffany & Co. says a proper polishing should be done just "a few times in the lifetime of a piece," as the process can erode some of the metal. But cleaning your pieces with soap and water to cleanse them of bacteria can be done more often. Shine on!