Sterling silver jewelry is beautiful, elegant, and versatile. It goes with practically any outfit and can be worn on any occasion.
Over time, however, your sterling silver jewelry will start losing its luster and begin to tarnish.
The initial reaction most people have when this happens is to grab some toothpaste and use this to clean their tarnished sterling silver jewelry pieces. While your silver jewelry pieces do look clean, applying toothpaste to do this is actually doing a lot of harm to it.
Why sterling silver jewelry tarnish?
To understand why toothpaste is not the alternative cleaner to expensive silver jewelry cleaning solutions, you’ll need to know why they tarnish in the first place.
When your silver jewelry piece comes in contact with other substance like sweat, water, makeup products, and oils, a chemical reaction takes place. This chemical reaction causes the silver to darken. In effect, the tarnish you see on your jewelry piece is still silver, just in a different form.
How toothpaste “cleans” your silver jewelry?
Toothpaste contains tiny abrasives that are meant to scrub away plaque from your teeth. When you use this to clean your silver jewelry, these abrasives strip away the tarnished layer of silver.
The sad thing about this is that as you rub the toothpaste, the abrasives also create minute scratches on your silver jewelry piece. Unfortunately, these scratches are irreversible. That’s the main reason why even though you’ve cleaned your silver jewelry, it doesn’t shine how it did when you first bought it.
What’s worse is that these abrasives can also leave scratches any set gemstones or crystals present. In some cases, it can even loosen them and come undone on your jewelry piece.
More important, some of the components in toothpaste—particularly the oils used to flavor it—are corrosive to metal. That means your silver jewelry is more prone to tarnishing. It won’t take long before you need to clean them again.
What’s the right way to clean sterling silver jewelry?
Since the tarnish on your silver jewelry is a result of a chemical reaction, the most effective—and safest—way to clean this is by reversing the chemical reaction that caused the tarnish.
Doing this is surprisingly easy, and doesn’t require any fancy chemicals or solutions. In fact, you’ll find everything you need to do this right inside your kitchen cabinet.
To properly clean your sterling silver jewelry, you’ll need:
- A bowl to fit your jewelry pieces
- Aluminum foil
- A tablespoon of baking soda
- A tablespoon of rock salt
- Half a cup of vinegar
- Hot water
Here are the steps to clean your sterling silver jewelry:
1.) Line the inside of your bowl with aluminum foil. Take care that it doesn’t rip.
2.) Add the baking soda, rock salt, vinegar, and hot water to the bowl. Be careful when adding the vinegar since this will start fizzling the moment it comes in contact with the baking soda.
3.) Place your tarnished silver jewelry pieces inside of the bowl. Make sure that these touches the aluminum foil and they are fully submerged in the solution. You can add more hot water if needed.
4.) Wait for the solution to work on the jewelry pieces. Depending on how tarnished your sterling silver jewelry pieces, this could take anywhere between a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
5.) Wipe and buff your jewelry pieces using a clean and soft towel or tissue.