How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (2024)

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II recently came across some old jewelry with a lot of tarnish, and an old recipe for how to clean tarnished jewelry came to me from way back!

I came across some old jewelry that my Mom had left at my place when she moved. While some of it was way outdated, some of them were interesting and unique. But most of them were badly tarnished. I tried cleaning them with soap and water, but only a bit of tarnish came off. Then an old recipe, from when I was much younger, came to me!

What is Tarnish?

Having to clean tarnished jewelry is very common. Tarnish is nothing more than oxidization. When certain materials come in contact with air, especially if humidity is involved. In the case of copper, oxidization turns green. In aluminum, it turns gray. Silver will also turn gray or black. Bronze will turn green like copper. Aluminum and copper are often used in jewelry because they are cheap, lightweight, and easy to coat. You may see something that looks silver, but be copper underneath. Another advantage is that both metals rarely have any allergens. The main disadvantage is the tarnish. But I’ll show you how you can take care of that pretty easily.

Read more about which metals tarnish.

How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry

There are tarnish-removing cloths that you can use on jewelry and other items like silverware. They may work well for large flat objects, but in the case of silverware with intricate designs or jewelry with the same or on chains, you’ll only be able to get to the surface, leaving tarnish between links or deep in crevices. That’s where this recipe can really help. The best part is that it’s not noxious in any way and you probably already have everything you need.

Equipment/Ingredients

  • Aluminum foil or an aluminum pie pan
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup water, hot, but not boiling
  • 2 clean towels, 1 fluffy if you can

Instructions

In the bottom of a sink or a container, place the aluminum foil or pie tin. Next, to begin the process to clean tarnished jewelry, add baking soda and salt. If using a sink, make sure the stopper is in place and slowly pour the hot water over the powdered ingredients. Stir the mixture around a little to be sure the baking soda and salt are dissolved. It shouldn’t take long since the water is hot.

Place your jewelry or other items on the foil or pie plate. Now, you’ll need to wait. Some small items can be done in as little as 15 minutes, but some may take a few hours. If you are working with something large, like a vase, you can double or triple the amounts of baking soda, salt, and water. The foil or pie plate can stay the same.

When you see that most of the tarnished jewelry is mostly clean, pull the piece out of the water and rinse it off. Then lay it on the first towel to drip dry. Once it dries most of the way, take the fluffy cloth (terry cloth works great) and buff the item dry. Be sure to work in deep crevices, and in between links on chains. If you see a lot of tarnish between the links on the chain, return it to the solution to soak for a bit longer. Eventually, all the tarnish will come off.

When you have cleaned all of your items, simply drain the sink and toss the aluminum into the recycling. Pie plates and foil both recycle well. Keep your jewelry in a clean, dry place.

Avoid Having to Clean Tarnished Jewelry

There are a few things you can do to prevent jewelry from becoming tarnished in the first place.

  1. Keep your items dry. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. I don’t use air conditioning in my home, so the humidity creeps in. And in older homes, basem*nts, and closets that have a lot of humidity.
  2. You won’t have to clean tarnished jewelry if you store your items in an enclosed container. Small jars, zip-top bags, and shoe boxes that seal are all ways to keep the air out of your things.
  3. Use an anti-tarnish cloth. They contain tiny particles of silver that catch tarnish before they can latch onto your things.
  4. Wear something else. If jewelry is worn constantly, tarnish can develop. Try a different necklace or ring.
  5. Clean them often. By cleaning your things often, tarnish won’t have a chance to build up.

Homemade Jewelry Cleaner

Note: You may also want to check our recipe for homemade jewelry cleaner.

Now you know how to clean tarnished jewelry, and silverware, naturally!

*******

How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (1)

About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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Comments

  1. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (6)Debra Maslowski says

    Hi Monica, Angela is correct. The aluminum reacts with the other ingredients, driving dirt and tarnish from crevasses in jewelry.

  2. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (7)Debra Maslowski says

    Hey Angela, that’s great! A lot of people like the antique look. It’s really up to you.

  3. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (8)Debra Maslowski says

    Hi Pam, I wouldn’t use this type of cleaner with turquoise, either the stone or inlaid with resin. It could damage it. I would try a soft silver cloth on the metal areas instead.

  4. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (9)Pam says

    Sooooo…. I have silver jewelry with inlaid turquoise. Would that be ok or possibly cause damage to turquoise? Really want to try this. Thanks

  5. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (10)Angela says

    I actually don’t completely clean the tarnish on silver jewelry any more….as you pointed out, when you clean silver in the classic way, tarnish can remain in the folds and crevaces. I find that it enhances my silver jewelry, gives it a pleasant antique look, but that is my personal prefernce….

  6. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (11)Angela says

    Yes Monica, the salt and baking soda have a chemical reaction with the aluminium (oh, just in case you think that this is a spelling error: it is the original English name for what became aluminum in the US) and that’s what cleans the silver….

  7. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (12)Vicki says

    Household ammonia does a fine job cleaning tarnished silver jewelry.

  8. How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (13)Monica says

    Thanks for this! Is there a reason that foil is recommended as opposed to a bowl or other small container?

How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works! (2024)

FAQs

How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry: A Natural Recipe That Works!? ›

Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil

Add boiling water and baking soda to a bowl layered with aluminum foil. Remove after 1-3 minutes, rinse under cool water and rub dry with a soft cloth. This process causes a chemical reaction that removes tarnish from the silver within second or minutes.

What is a natural cleaner for tarnished jewelry? ›

Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil

Add boiling water and baking soda to a bowl layered with aluminum foil. Remove after 1-3 minutes, rinse under cool water and rub dry with a soft cloth. This process causes a chemical reaction that removes tarnish from the silver within second or minutes.

What is the best homemade jewelry cleaner? ›

Take a half a cup of white vinegar and mix it with two tablespoons of baking soda in a shallow bowl. After mixing the solution so that the baking soda is dissolved well, you can place your jewelry in the bowl and leave it there for 2 to 3 hours. When your jewels are nice and clean, rinse them and dry with a cloth.

Does baking soda and vinegar clean tarnished jewelry? ›

White vinegar is another great option as well, and your pieces can be soaked in the solution to remove debris. Once again, do not use this on plated or gemstones with a low hardness on the Mohs Scale. Baking soda is a better alternative to the acidity of vinegar and is excellent for silver and gold.

How do you clean cheap tarnished jewelry? ›

Baking soda, salt and aluminum foil.

Mix one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon of baking soda and mix with one cup warm water. Pour into the dish. The mixture will create a chemical reaction with the foil and bubble as it cleans the jewelry. Rinse with cool water and buff dry with a clean cloth.

What is the best natural tarnish remover? ›

Vinegar and Aluminum Foil
  • Line a skillet with aluminum foil (make sure the shiny side faces up).
  • Combine one quart of water with one cup of vinegar in the skillet and heat until boiling. ...
  • Put your tarnished silver items in the solution and leave to soak for five minutes.

Can hydrogen peroxide clean jewelry? ›

If you'd like to disinfect your jewelry, you can use regular household isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as long as the jewelry is solid gold or platinum and is only set with diamond, ruby, or sapphire. Take care with any other kind of stones and use a gentler form of cleaning.

What should you not clean jewelry with? ›

From rubbing alcohol to vodka, keep it away from your jewelry. Alcohol can dry out the natural oils in gemstones like opals and emeralds, which again, can cause them to crack.

How do you clean jewelry and make it shiny again? ›

Pour hot water into the bowl. Add salt, baking soda, and dish detergent; do not stir. Place jewelry on top of foil. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes.

Can you reverse tarnished jewelry? ›

Submerge your jewelry in 2 cups of vinegar in a saucepan. Heat the vinegar to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Let the jewelry rest in the vinegar overnight, then clean off tarnish with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Rinse with room temperature water and buff with a soft cloth.

What do jewelers use to clean jewelry? ›

Jewelers use ultrasonic cleaners with high frequency sound waves and chemicals, which create bubbles that latch on to the dirt on the diamond. The high frequency sound waves pull the dirt away from the stone and bring them up to the surface.

How long can you leave jewelry in vinegar and baking soda? ›

If your piece is still visibly dirty, you can soak it in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (about one part baking soda to four parts vinegar) for an hour or so before rinsing and polishing with a cloth.

How do you remove oxidation from jewelry? ›

Instructions:
  1. Add 1 tablespoon of washing soda/baking soda to a glass bowl that is covered in tin foil.
  2. Add boiling water to the bowl, enough to cover the jewelry.
  3. Let the jewelry items soak for a few minutes.
  4. Remove the jewelry and place on a paper towel.
Apr 10, 2019

How can I make my jewelry tarnish for free? ›

Clean Before Storage: Use a soft, dry cloth to clean your necklace before storing it. Remove any dirt, oils, or residues that may contribute to tarnishing. Use Anti-Tarnish Products: Store your necklace with anti-tarnish strips or tabs in your jewelry box or storage area.

How do you make homemade necklace cleaner? ›

How to Make a Homemade Solution to Remove Tarnish from Jewelry
  1. Make a Tarnish Removing Paste. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice with two tablespoons of baking soda. ...
  2. Coat the Jewelry. When the fizzing stops, coat the tarnished jewelry with the paste. ...
  3. Rinse, Dry, and Buff.
May 23, 2023

Does hydrogen peroxide clean tarnished jewelry? ›

Absolutely! Fill a small bowl with hydrogen peroxide—just enough to fully cover the piece you wish to clean. The solution will kill all the bacteria that may be on the surface. Leave the jewelry in the peroxide for about 15–20 minutes.

Does vinegar Untarnish jewelry? ›

Soaking Jewelry in Vinegar

Cover it with white vinegar, so that it is completely immersed. You can let it sit for two or three hours, depending on how much tarnish you need to remove. Then, rinse and dry the jewelry. If the piece is only moderately dirty, it should be pretty clean after fifteen minutes.

Does hydrogen peroxide help tarnished jewelry? ›

The short answer to this question is yes, homemade jewelry cleaner hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove tarnish and verdigris from different kinds of jewelry.

References

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