How to Clean Sterling Silver: Step-by-Step
Sterling silver is a beautiful precious metal that has been used in jewelry all around the world for hundreds of years. Highly desired for its lustrous finish and used for a variety of purposes, sterling silver is a versatile and durable metal.
Durable as it is, it still needs regular maintenance and care if you want your sterling silver to last for years to come. If you have no idea how to clean sterling silver, don’t worry, you found the right place to learn how. Let’s discuss how to clean and maintain sterling silver so it can keep its shine well into the future.
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is a precious metal alloy that is made of pure silver and other metals, such as copper or other alloys. Jewelry made out of sterling silver is a staple in many jewelry boxes, but sterling silver can also be found in flatware such as serving platters and serving ware, commonly called silverware.
In order for metal to be considered sterling silver, it must contain at least 92.5% silver. The 92.5% is where 925 sterling silver gets its name from, and sterling silver pieces will be marked with a .925 marking to indicate their silver content. The remaining 7.5% is made of copper, which will make the metal much more resilient against corrosion and tarnish.
Sterling silver is a popular jewelry metal since it is easy to work with and is one of the more supple precious metals. These qualities make sterling silver the perfect choice for delicate or intricate designs.
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Why Does Sterling Silver Tarnish?
Over time, you may notice your sterling silver start to develop a dark and dull coating. This is tarnish and is caused by exposure to the natural oxygen and sulfur in the air. Tarnish causes a dark discoloration that steals the luster away from your sterling silver and makes it look dirty.
Related: Why Does Silver Tarnish? Causes and Fixes
Silver tends to tarnish pretty quickly compared to other metals, so the higher the silver content in sterling silver jewelry, the faster it can tarnish. Living in a humid environment can also accelerate the tarnishing process, so make sure to clean your sterling silver regularly if you live in one.
How to Clean Sterling Silver
If you take care of it properly, sterling silver can last long enough to be passed down for multiple generations. Here are some of our favorite ways to keep our sterling silver jewelry looking its best.
Jewelry Polishing Cloth
Using a silver polishing cloth regularly is a wonderful way to keep your sterling silver clean and bright for years to come. If you don’t have a jewelry polishing cloth, a clean and dry microfiber or other non-abrasive cloth can be used. This method is best used when there is not a lot of tarnish accumulated on the metal, so try to polish up your sterling silver jewelry on a regular basis.
Soap and Water
If you find that using a jewelry polishing cloth is not doing the job or you notice more than just tarnish on your jewelry, you can use warm water and soap to clean it up. Using warm water and gentle, non-abrasive dishwashing soap will do wonders to bring your tarnished and dirty sterling silver jewelry back to life.
Related: How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry
Fill a shallow bowl with warm water and add a few drops of the dish soap. Use your fingers and gently agitate the water to work up a layer of lather on the surface. Carefully place the jewelry into the water and let it soak for about thirty seconds.
Once it has finished soaking, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe the surface of the jewelry back and forth gently. Avoid rubbing the jewelry in a circular motion since this can make scratches look worse. Don’t forget to give it a quick rinse in warm water and pat it dry with a clean, dry microfiber cloth after you finish rubbing the grime off.
Baking Soda Paste
Dealing with stubborn grime and tarnish on your jewelry? If soap and water are not cutting through the tarnish and leaving your sterling silver jewelry dull and discolored, try combining baking soda and water to make a paste to clean with.
When you are mixing the paste together, make sure you do not add too much water since you want the paste to have a little grit to it. If the jewelry you are dealing with is delicate or has a lot of detail, you will want to mix together a thinner paste so it will wash out easier.
Related: Silver vs Gold Jewelry: How Do I Decide?
Take a small amount of the paste, about the size of a dime, and apply it to a clean microfiber or other non-abrasive cloth. Gently work the paste evenly onto the surfaces of the jewelry. If you are having difficulty reaching some of the hard-to-reach spots, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to reach them. After you have finished polishing your jewelry, rinse it using warm water and use a clean and dry cloth to pat it dry.
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Cleaning your sterling silver jewelry can seem complicated, but these methods make it incredibly easy to keep them clean and bright. So the next time you notice a bit of tarnish or grime on your precious sterling silver jewelry pieces, try one of these methods to bring them right back to life!