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Can You Clean Silver with Ketchup? Discover 15 Unusual Methods

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestHow to Clean Your Silver
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Silver is a beautiful and versatile metal that is used to create things like lovely serving pieces or treasured jewelry items. However, all silver becomes tarnished over time thanks to exposure to light and air. You may be dismayed to see your lovely silverware or favorite platter covered with dingy tarnish, but there are actually several simple ways to restore your pieces to their shiny glory. Though you can purchase polish or other commercially-available cleaning solutions, there are even some methods can be done simply at home with items most people have around the house.

01

Aluminum Foil Method

Share to PinterestAluminum reacts chemically to remove tarnish.
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You can use aluminum, another metal, to quickly and easily remove tarnish from silver pieces. However, please note that this method should only be used on pieces that can be boiled, like sturdy silverware. Simply bring one liter of water, one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of salt, and one piece of aluminum foil to a boil. Using tongs, and protecting your hands with oven mitts, drop your silver item in the pot and wait around ten seconds. It helps if the item is actually touching the aluminum foil. The tarnish should vanish from your silver.

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02

Baking Soda Method

Share to PinterestBaking soda makes a nice paste
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If you prefer to clean your silver by hand, you can make your own polishing paste with baking soda, which makes an excellent gently abrasive cleaner. To get started, mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with two tablespoons of water. If this paste seems too thick and sticky, you can add a little more water to thin it out. Though baking soda is gentle, test a small spot on your silver item to make sure this paste isn't too rough. Rub it gently onto your silver item to remove even tough tarnish spots.

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03

Ketchup Method

Share to PinterestKetchup is mildly acidic.
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It may sound silly, but ketchup is actually a great way to gently remove tarnish from delicate silver pieces like jewelry or intricate pieces like engraved plates or candlesticks. Tarnish is basically caused due to your silver reacting with chemicals normally found in the air, like sulfur, forming dingy silver sulfide compounds. The mild acids in ketchup help remove the sulfide tarnishes, and ketchup can be gently scrubbed into grooves and other engraved areas to clean them thoroughly.

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04

Cornstarch Method

Share to PinterestCorn starch is a mild abrasive
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You can use cornstarch or corn flour like baking soda in order to make a mildly abrasive paste for cleaning off tough tarnish. Making the paste is simple; just mix a few tablespoons of corn starch with a few tablespoons of water. It doesn't matter exactly how much you use as long as you stick with equal amounts of each. Rub the paste on gently with a soft cloth, then let it dry. Remove it with water using a scrub brush or other rough-surfaced item for better results.

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05

Laundry Detergent Method

Share to PinterestLaundry detergent foams away tarnish
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Great for smaller items that can be soaked, the laundry detergent method is an easy way to remove tarnish from silver items using something you probably already have at home. To use this method, pour a little hot water in a bowl and add a small amount of liquid laundry detergent until it becomes foamy. Drop your items into the bowl and soak for at least five minutes. When you remove the now tarnish-free items, wipe them clean with a soft cloth.

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06

Vinegar Method

Share to PinterestVinegar is actually acetic acid
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For this method, all you need to do is grab vinegar from the kitchen pantry. Because vinegar is actually a weak acid, acetic acid, it reacts chemically with the silver sulfide compounds that cause your silver items to become tarnished and discolored. Pour some vinegar into a bowl and soak your items until the tarnish lifts away.

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07

Soda Method

Share to PinterestSoda dissolves silver tarnish
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Here is another method that involves an ingredient commonly found in your kitchen - soda. Most popular sodas contain acid, typically citric acids, carbonic acids, and phosphoric acids. These acids can actually cause tooth decay over time, eating away at the hard enamel that protects the tooth's surface. Fortunately, these mild acids are also effective at removing silver tarnish. Soak for about ten minutes for better results.

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08

Toothpaste Method

Share to PinterestToothpaste buffs off silver tarnish
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Toothpaste is pretty good at removing buildup from your teeth, and as it turns out, it can also do a good job of removing tarnish from your silver. This is due to the mild abrasive properties that it has. Apply toothpaste to tarnished silver items with a lot of nooks and crannies that need to be cleaned out. However, only use a brush to rub it in once you've tested to make sure it won't scratch your silver.

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09

Lemon and Dry Milk Method

Share to PinterestLemons smell fresh and remove tarnish
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This one sounds a little odd, but it's possible to get great tarnish-removal success by combining one tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/2 cup of instant dry milk. Since it requires so much lemon juice, this method is probably best used for small items, like rings or earrings. However, it does require an overnight soak, so only use this method when you have plenty of time before you need to use your silver items.

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10

Silver Polish or Silver Wipes

Share to PinterestSilver polish gets your tea set looking good
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If you try these methods and you're still left with stubborn tarnish, or if you're just not in the mood for a DIY, there are many commercially available silver polishes. Typically, these products need to be applied with a sponge or cloth then rinsed away, or you can choose a convenient silver polish wipe if you are in a hurry and have a lot of silver to restore. One bonus to using silver polish is that many polishes claim to have ingredients to prevent future tarnishing too, although storing your silver in a dark, confined space also helps since it's not exposed to light or air.

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11

Restoring shine with lemon juice and olive oil

Share to Pinterestlemon by olive oil

Harness the power of nature to breathe life back into your tarnished silver. By combining the acidic properties of lemon juice with the nourishing effects of olive oil, you create a potent polish. Mix two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with a half cup of olive oil. Dip a soft cloth into this concoction and gently massage your silver items. The lemon juice works to lift the tarnish, while the olive oil restores a natural shine. After polishing, rinse the items with water and buff dry. This eco-friendly method is not only effective but also kind to the environment.

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12

Using hair conditioner for preventative care

Share to Pinterestwiping silver with cloth

Hair conditioner, a staple in most bathrooms, has a hidden use: protecting silver from tarnishing. After cleaning your silver, apply a small amount of conditioner to a soft cloth. Gently rub this onto your silver items, creating a thin protective layer. This barrier helps reduce exposure to air and moisture, common culprits of tarnish. Beyond just cleaning, taking preventative measures ensures your silver remains radiant for longer periods. Plus, using conditioner is a cost-effective method, leveraging everyday items to maintain your precious silver's luster.

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13

The benefits of storing silver with chalk

Share to Pinterestsilver storage

Preserving the shine of your silver is as crucial as cleaning it. Chalk, with its moisture-absorbing properties, is a silver enthusiast's secret weapon. By placing a few sticks of chalk in your silver storage area, whether it's a drawer, cabinet, or box, you combat the humidity that accelerates tarnish. As the chalk absorbs moisture, it creates a dry environment, ideal for silver preservation. Every few months, replace the old chalk pieces with new ones to ensure maximum protection. This simple, affordable trick can prolong the intervals between thorough silver cleanings.

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14

Quicksilver cleaning with hand sanitizer

Share to Pinteresthand sanitizer bottle

In today's fast-paced world, we often seek quick solutions. Hand sanitizer, commonly found in most homes, offers a rapid remedy for lightly tarnished silver. The alcohol content in sanitizers breaks down tarnish, restoring shine in mere minutes. Apply a few drops to a cloth and gently rub your silver items. Within moments, you'll witness a transformation from dull to dazzling. This method is especially handy for on-the-spot touch-ups, ensuring your silver jewelry always looks its best.

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15

Brightening silver with ammonia

Share to Pinterestwashing silverware

Occasionally, silver items need a deep clean, especially if they've been neglected for a while. Ammonia, while potent, can work wonders in such cases. Combine one cup of warm water with half a cup of clear ammonia in a bowl. Submerge your silver items, allowing them to soak for about ten minutes. The solution works to dissolve stubborn tarnish and restore the metal's inherent brightness. After soaking, rinse the items thoroughly to remove any ammonia residue. Dry and buff to reveal gleaming silver. Given its strength, use this method sparingly to ensure the longevity of your items.

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