How to Polish Silver at Home: Step-by-Step

No one wants their silver to tarnish. However, this is a natural process that occurs due to silver coming into contact with the air. Unless you find a way to prevent your silver from exposure to air, you will have to deal with tarnish. 

The best way to do this is to polish your silver. Doing so will bring it back up to its previous beauty. Keep reading for a step-by-step approach to polishing your silver. 

Related: Heirloom Jewelry: Restore & Cherish the Past

How to Polish Silver

It is relatively easy to polish silver. However, the exact approach will depend on what you plan on using to polish the silver. 

Using Silver Polish

The easiest way to polish silver is to use a silver polish. These are products that have been specifically created to polish silver. Because of this, they are wonderfully effective and very easy to use. 

To use silver polish, start by adding the polish to a piece of cloth. Don’t use something too nice, as you don’t want to ruin something valuable, but make sure the cloth is clean; otherwise, you will simply spread dirt around on your silver. 

Use this cloth to apply the polish to your silver. Rub the silver using a linear motion rather than a circular motion. 

As you are rubbing the cloth on your silver, make sure to turn the cloth slightly. Doing so will ensure that a clean section of cloth is used on your silver rather than a section that has already absorbed tarnish. 

Once you have rubbed the entire silver and have it looking the way you want, it is time to rinse it off. Clean the piece with warm water or with a fresh, damp cloth. Then, dry it with a fresh dry cloth. 

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When using silver polish, it is important to remember that the polish is a chemical and has the potential to damage things that are not silver. If you are cleaning a piece with gemstones in it, you need to be sure you are following advice regarding how to clean gemstones. If you fail to do this, you could damage the gems at the same time you are cleaning the silver. 


Woman wearing layered necklaces


Using Home Remedies


While many people opt for silver polishes, home remedies work as well. These are a great option for anyone who can’t get access to silver polish or doesn’t want to buy an entire container of silver polish for a single piece of silver. Home remedies also work for those who want to avoid using any harsh chemicals. 

One simple and easy home remedy is to simply use dish soap. Mix a little bit of dish soap with some water and add this to a clean cloth. Then, use the methods listed above to wipe down the piece of silver. Once you have done so, make sure to wash off the silver and dry it. 

Soap is relatively effective but only for silver that hasn’t been very tarnished. Because of this, it works best as a way to keep silver pieces from developing much tarnish in the first place. So, you can use this method to keep your silver necklace looking good by polishing it somewhat frequently. Unfortunately, it isn’t as effective for rescuing something that is already looking rough. 

For tougher jobs with more tarnish, baking soda is a better solution. You can create a baking soda paste by mixing baking soda with water until it forms a solution that is runny but not completely soaked. Then, use a cloth to rub this paste onto the silver. Let this solution sit for a little while, up to 10 minutes for heavily tarnished pieces, before washing it away with cool water. Once again, make sure to dry the silver once you are done. 

Related: How to Fix a Broken Necklace: Save Your Favorite Pieces

How Often Does Silver Need to Be Polished?

Now that you understand the process of polishing silver, you may be wondering how often you have to go about this process. The answer depends on how you prefer to maintain your silver in general. 

This is because polishing silver strips off a thin layer of the silver itself. This isn’t a big deal in most cases because the layer that is removed is very thin. However, if you are constantly polishing your silver, then you are removing layer after layer time and time again. Doing so will cause damage to the piece in the long run. 

However, not polishing your silver at all will cause it to look bad. So, finding the right amount of polishing you should do is about finding a happy medium between polishing too much and polishing too little. 

Because of this, you should generally only polish the silver when it looks like it needs to be polished. You don’t need to worry about creating a weekly polishing schedule for your new silver bracelet. Let the silver’s look tell you when it needs to be polished. 

Preventing Silver from Tarnishing

One way to reduce the number of times you will need to polish your silver is to prevent it from tarnishing in the first place. While there is no way to prevent this entirely, there are ways to slow the process down. 

The best way to reduce tarnishing is to keep your silver dry. Whenever the piece is exposed to water, whether through cleaning or some other exposure to the elements, make sure to wipe it down to dry it. Don’t let it dry on its own, as this will expedite the tarnish. 

Related: How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry: 6 Methods to Try at Home

Proper storage can also help with this. Keep your silver in a dry place where humidity won’t be too much of a problem. You can even reduce the humidity surrounding your silver by storing it in a sealed bag with a piece of regular chalk, as the chalk will absorb the moisture from the air and prevent it from coming into contact with the silver. 


Earrings on a black polka dot background


Polishing Silver


You can easily polish your silver at home with silver polish or with common household materials. Along with this, you can take steps to prevent your silver from needing to be polished, so you can avoid overpolishing it. Doing so will ensure that your beautiful silver always looks brand new. 

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