Cleaning silver at home: what can be used?
Silver can be easily cleaned at home with affordable and easily available cleaning agents. Below are 6 hacks to get rid of the blackness. Choose any of them to clean your silver in a quick and easy way.
Hack 1: Cleaning jewellery with lipstick
Lipstick that many of you put on every day is one of the best silver cleansers. One of the ingredients of the common lipstick is titanium dioxide. Lipstick also contains a lot of fat. Titanium dioxide is good at cleaning dirt, while fat contributes to polishing the piece and making it shine.
The method is simple: take any unneeded (old) lipstick and a cotton pad. Apply the lipstick liberally to the piece of jewellery, and then wipe it all away with the pad until squeaky-clean.
The jewellery practically sheds the blackness right before your eyes. The only drawback to this hack is that it is only effective on smooth surfaces.
Hack 2: Cleaning silver with toothpaste
Toothpaste contains abrasive polishing micro particles - chalk, sand and others. They perfectly remove dirt from silver jewellery without scratching it. Apply toothpaste to a wet soft-bristled brush. It is best to use a soft brush as the bristles clean the surface gentler and are able to get deeper into the complicated designs of chains, rings or bracelets. Carefully use the brush on the jewellery piece, applying moderate pressure. Finally, rinse the jewellery under warm water and polish off with a soft microfiber cloth.
If the black on the silver chain or your other jewellery still remains, try cleaning with toothpaste in a more extreme way: mix it with ammonia. Rub this mixture all over the jewellery piece, then rinse with water.
Hack 3: Cleaning silver jewellery with egg yolks
This method has a long history, invented when silver jewellery was significantly more valued than golden. The method is as follows: wet a cotton pad with yolk, and apply to the surface of the silver piece. Let it dry and only then rinse it off. Your pendant or ring will not only be cleaned, but it will be immune to getting dirty again for a little while. Egg yolk has properties which allow it to protect surfaces from oxides, slowing down the blackening of materials such as silver.
Hack 4: Cleaning jewellery with soda and aluminium foil
This is the fastest method for cleaning silver and one of the most effective ones.
All you need to have on your hands is baking soda, aluminium foil, a bowl and a cooking pot: things most people have in their kitchens. The method is quite simple: boil some water, add baking soda to it in the ratio of 1 litre to 50g, and pour this mixture into a bowl that either already has a silver jewellery piece and some aluminium foil in it, or one big enough to drop these items into. Baking soda and the aluminium foil will force silver sulphides into a chemical reaction, removing the blackness on the surface of silver in mere minutes. All you now need to do is carefully get the jewellery out of the bowl, rinse under tap water and let dry.
Be careful when cleaning jewellery with gemstones. This method, the use of bicarbonate of soda, is dangerous to porous structures such as natural gemstones. The abrasive properties dry baking soda possesses may dull down the natural shine of inserts such as pearls, turquoise, corals and others.
Hack 5: Cleaning silver with hydrogen peroxide and ammonia
Mix hydrogen peroxide and ammonia inhalants (known as smelling salts, or spirit of hartshorn, but just ammonia will suffice, too) in an equal (1:1) ratio. Put the piece of jewellery in this solution. Please choose a container which may be tightly closed, as ammonia gas is highly toxic and not very pleasant to smell. The jewellery piece should be in the solution for 15 to 20 minutes, then it needs to be removed, thoroughly rinsed and dried with a soft cloth.
Do not place rings or earrings with precious stones that are glued on rather than set. Such long time in a solution will weaken the adhesive, causing the stones to detach.
Another caution: cleaning silver with hydrogen peroxide is sometimes not worth the risk. While hydrogen peroxide does clean the metal quite well, it can also easily react with other chemical substances. If you are not confident about all of the ingredients used in your piece of jewellery, the result of cleaning it this way may be the opposite of desired: the piece will become matte, a black-ish tint will appear. It will wash away with time and the cloudiness will go away, however, as our target is cleaning the product, not making it even worse, experimenting with this type of cleaning is not recommended.
Hack 6: Cleaning silver with ammonia solution
Ammonia – the easiest method, which works with 100% certainty and effectiveness to clean silver and gemstones. It gives back their shine to dulled gemstones, and in seconds dissolves black layers from the surface of any silver jewellery. All you need is a container with ammonia which can be tightly closed. Next, just place all the silver jewellery that needs cleaning: the chain, the rings, the necklace, into the container, and shake it thoroughly (after tightly closing the bottle or jar, of course). As soon as you notice that the jewellery is clean, take it out, rinse with water, and dry thoroughly with a cloth.
The result can be noticed immediately: jewellery, cleaned in ammonia look like new, if not better. The dirtiness and blackness is gone, the precious stones are shining and glistening anew.
From all of these methods of cleaning silver jewellery, the best is the use of ammonia or the mixing of baking soda with aluminium foil. Ammonia gets rid even of the most persistent stains in the hardest to get to places, returns the brilliance and luster back to mounted gems, not hurting them in the process. The mixture of bicarbonate of soda and aluminium foil has nearly the same effect. The only downside of this method is the inability to clean jewellery with stuck-on gems, as they will fall out after soaking in water.
At the same time, if all you need is merely a quick cleanse, or do not have any of the other cleaning agents needed, some toothpaste or an old lipstick will do a grand job, too.
Hydrogen peroxide also serves very well, cleaning precious metals as desired. However, it can have an unneeded effect on other additives or alloys, creating a cloudy layer which can be hard to get rid of. Again, if you’re not confident about the chemicals and metals used in the process of creating the piece, we recommend staying away from this method.