Cleaning Silver


If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet her with, “who could have done this? We have no enemies.”

Phyllis Diller

It started with the sugar spoon at breakfast, I noticed how tarnished it looked.  We had company coming to stay with us, and really, all the silverware looked bad . . . it made me remember, just the other day, a girlfriend told me about this method she has of cleaning silver that she says definitely works, and gave me her recipe for it.

I’d heard of doing it like this before; I never really thought it would work, so I never tried it. But all my silver looked so terrible; what did I have to lose? What if it really works?  Way better than polishing every piece, one at a time.  Which I didn’t have time to do anyway. Then I thought, Maybe the girlfriends would like to see this scientific experiment! So out came the camera and here we are. Let’s see if it works!

I did what my friend suggested: I lined the sink with aluminum foil, the bottom and up on all sides.

Then I poured a half-cup of ordinary table salt and a half-cup of baking soda into the sink; filled it with really hot water, and dropped in the silverware.

You can see, if you look close, that I also dropped my wand in there.  Even though the wand is brass and not silver, I thought I’d give it a try. Joe came in, peered into the sink, and said, “what’s that?”  “It’s my wand,” I said.  He looked at me, rolled eyes, and said, “Why didn’t you just wave it over the silverware and forget all this?”

So, how did it work? It worked pretty good!   I left it in the water for about a half hour.  Here are the before and after photos:  “Before” is on the left, and “after” is on the right.  There’s definitely a big difference. I think you get more of a polish when you do it by hand; however, for speed-cleaning, and getting so many pieces done at once, this is my new, go-to way to do it.

  Then I polished my wand the old-fashioned way.

But here’s the real magic…I went to clean up, and look at this…the tarnish is all over the aluminum foil. Some sort of transference has occurred. Must have been the wand!


For this, I give myself the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval…

173 Responses to Cleaning Silver

  1. Ellie says:

    Try it!!!!…..You just never know if any of those wives tales work!!!!….Surprise!!!…It did!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, shocking!!! 🙂

      • Jody Bradley says:

        What about turquoise and silver jewelry? Ever try this with that?

        • sbranch says:

          I don’t think I’d put turquoise in with it. Just to be safe.

          • Diane McCullars says:

            never place sterling jewelry, turquoise, pearls, etc. in this solution. finish on jewelry will be ruined. Pearls, turquoise etc. are porous and delicate. Will not hold up under this chemical solution.

          • sbranch says:

            I do badly tarnished sterling jewelry, as long as it doesn’t have any stones on it, because it gets into all the crevices … then I do a quick polish with silver polish. But no pearls, stones anything like that. Silver only.

          • Lynne Tharan says:

            No, don’t use it with turquoise jewelry – it is harmful for the turquoise.

  2. Your silverware makes mine look like a walk in the park……….I will try this. And we only use sterling flatware (I don’t own anything else – it is the South afterall and we were raised this way!).

  3. Noel Blair says:

    I would love to use mine every day just because it feels so good in my hand and I think it makes any meal taste better. To have something so nice sitting in a drawer is a waste.

    • Lynn Maust says:

      I use mine daily….AND the method of Susan’s does the trick….it really works…did my whole drawer full of sterling….

  4. Theresa says:

    …can this also be done on bakelite flatware…will it ruin the handles?…made of stainless steel…but has tons of rust!!! bought them for a song fleamarketing

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve heard baking soda might work for that, just rub it on, like in a little paste, and see how it goes. The aluminum foil process might be too abrasive, but you could try just one piece if you have enough you wouldn’t mind if you lost one.

    • Valerie says:

      Back in the days when cars had a lot of chrome, which rusted quite a bit after a while, people used to polish the chrome with coca-cola. It will remove rust.

  5. shelly matter says:

    My grandma who is 87 and in wonderful health living on her own just down-sized and gave me some beautiful silver and I used it all the time! We have 5 children, 4 girls and one boy. The older three are girls are grown and now have homes of their own, 4th is our 18 yr old son and the baby is 13. We have 3 (going on 4) grandchildren and when my grandma comes for sunday dinner we have 5 generations! I’m so happy you shared your experiment with us as a short cut to polishing when time is of the essence is much appreciated. We try to get together for sunday dinners’ weekly and I LOVE using the silver and the serving utensils are soooo pretty too! We just turned our living room into a dining room for just such dinners’, and added a 10′ farm house table from our favorite furniture maker, Keith’s furniture. The top is old oak barn floor and the legs are huge and turned and distressed black. My son-in-law redid windsors in distressed black to match and we found a 6′ solid oak bench for one side and my gram had some darling black plank bottoms w/ painted design backs that we use for extra seating! All this to say that i’m thankful for the silver polishing tip?!

    • sbranch says:

      It sounds wonderful and very familyish!

      • shelly matter says:

        susan, we just love you! When the new grands arrive the new mommy gets your baby love book. Rarely does a birthday go by without the girls’ receiving another susan branch book to add to their collection. Christmas cards and names tags are made with your stamps, your scrapbooking papers and stickers adorn our scrapbooks, your calendar guides us through the year, your days’ books hold our daily memories and your address book sits on the kitchen counter by the phone:) You’ve been part of our family for many many moons and for that we, as a family, are thankful<3 Can't wait for the new book!!!

    • Judy Jennings says:

      How do I make my cream colored Windsors into distressed black?
      Would love that.

  6. CATHERINE says:

    Thanks for the great tip. I have a sterling silver and gold charm bracelet, that means the world to me. My jeweler in Newport, R.I., (never met them, but they do great work!) told me never to use the “dip silver cleaner”, because it can actually take the silver off. Also, with a lot of gold on it, I was afraid it would ruin. I just tried your method(I have to admit, I did hold my breath) and I know 2012 is going to be a good year! THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN! By the way, I did wave to you when I was on the Cape last month Susan, I figured my hand would just know the way! Great time, if it were up to me, I would cross the Sagamore Bridge, and never look back. Best in 2012. I would like to share with you and all women, my favorite saying. LIFE ISN’T ABOUT FINDING YOURSELF. LIFE IS ABOUT CREATING YOURSELF.

  7. Ruth Brisbin says:

    We used this method of polishing silver at a country club I waitressed at – it really does work well! I will have to do this for our home silverware – just getting more tarnished sitting in a drawer!

  8. Lady Jayne says:

    Interesting, so can you clean silver jewelry this way? Any tips??

  9. Wanda Styrsky says:

    Susan, I use aluminum foil pans and fill them with very warm water. I pour salt in like you do, but instead of the baking soda, I use a capful of Woolite. It works beautifully! I love cleaning my silver!

  10. Joy Pence says:

    I just received from my mom a sterling silver tea set (I saved my money when I was 16 and bought this for her from a jewelery store, I am 49 now!!) Being that these are not silverware, could I still try this method? What would the ratio of salt/baking soda to water be? Thanks, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, that silverware in the photos is all sterling. I was just told to fill my sink to cover the silverware, which was about half way — you’d have to put more water in to cover your pieces, so I would add another half measurement of both.

  11. Stephanie R. says:

    Love this!! I was wondering if you can use this on brass? Or do you know another way of cleaning/polishing them?

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think it works on brass. The little star on my wand is brass and it didn’t work on that. For brass, I just use the brass polish I get at the supermarket. But the silver thing is great!

      • Steph R says:

        Thanks!! I’ll look for the brass polish. 😀

      • Debby Conyers says:

        I learned a method of cleaning copper and brass many years ago in Warrensburg, Missouri. Use equal parts of salt and lemon juice, or vinegar (or close as possible). Add more of one or the other until it starts working. You don’t have to dip the whole piece in the solution (therefore you need much less) . Use a soft rag dipped in the solution and rub, or put on and leave it a few seconds before rubbing. It comes off pretty fast, and is much less expensive than the store bought kind.

        • sbranch says:

          If you rub, does the salt scratch?

          • Janette says:

            When I clean brass or copper I use half a lemon dipped in salt and scrub away! I save all my lemon halves that have been ‘squeezed’ for tea or recipes and wrap them in plastic and toss into the fridge til I take time to polish something. Works very well and no mess to clean up!

  12. Jessie says:

    3-28-2012 Tried this today on a number of decorative and serving items. It worked noticeably well on the flat/smooth pieces like plates and bowls. On the more decorative items, it didn’t look like it worked, but it seems like it helped make the polishing work easier compared to a couple pieces I didn’t put in the bath.

    Thanks for saving me some of the work! My mother-in-law gave us all of the silver, and she will be here in a few days. Whew – so glad to be done!

  13. Aileen says:

    Supposedly ketchup is great for cleaning brass, copper and silver, glop on, let sit then clean off. You might try that for your wand.

    • sbranch says:

      That is slightly scary! 🙂

      • Janet says:

        Can totally vouch for the Ketchup Method. The acid from the tomatoes is apparently the magic ingredient! Will not help for sterling, silverplate or pewter but have used it many times on brass candlesticks etc. Just be sure to wash item thoroughly afterward in hot soapy water, buff well etc. Hope this is helpful… :>)

    • KimberlyGreenman says:

      Ketchup works GREAT on any tarnished metals! Cover the piece generously with the ketchup, let it sit for an hour or so, wipe off with paper towels, and buff with a soft cloth (old t-shirt).

  14. Mhairi Williams says:

    I discovered an easy method of removing tarnish from silver, using stuff we all have at home. You’ll need an inert bowl (such as glass or ceramic), 2 cups very hot water, a teaspoon of table salt, a piece of folded up aluminum foil, and a tablespoon of baking soda. You can also add a teaspoon of vinegar to acidify the solution and speed up the reaction and it also intensifies the solution.. trust me, the vinegar included is magic!!!

  15. SHERI says:

    Just tried this and it worked like a charm…I really does beat spending 2 hrs polishing by hand!!!

  16. tamartime says:

    What is the pattern name of your silver flatware, please?

    • tamartime says:

      I noticed it in a post about halloween. You had it on the table in a wood tray. Really pretty. I am mshopping flatware. Just ordered some from Amazon and sent it right back because, it was not nearly as pretty in real life. I like yours.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sorry Tamar, I don’t know what the names are; some belonged to my grandmother, and lots of it I found (guess where) in antique stores.

  17. Wonderful tip that I came upon on Pinterest. I have a blog about easy and simple living and will be posting this, if there is not a problem. Perhaps you would agree to an interview with me? I am originally from Massachusetts and feel like a fish out of water here in Florida. Take care…

  18. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Thanks for the reminder & it works great!!! xo

  19. Karon says:

    This works even better if you use far less salt and more b. soda. I don’t line the sink, either, just my largest pot. Dip in your silver after you slowly pour b. soda into thepot (or it will foam up all over like a volcano) and it gets it 100% perfectly clean. If you do a large batch of silver, change out the foil whe it turns gray. There is no ore room on the foil for the tarnish to transfer otherwise.

    • sbranch says:

      Interesting, I have tried it in a bowl for smaller batches, I’ll cut down on the salt next time — do you use ANY salt? Or just baking powder?

  20. matty says:

    thanks for the tip, truly clean the silver its a huge,boring job,,, but i love to see them at the table.. so romantic i think. my grandmother tell me that they cleaned with the egg cocked, just take the egg yolks cooked put into the plastic bag and the smash them then put the silver and let rest …like magic they cleaned and then trow away the egg yolks dont eat them,they are poisoned. my father said that the azufre from the egg yolks clean the silver… well maybe its expensive way to clean the silver. huges matty

  21. Katherine says:

    I used this method to clean all my silver flatware and it worked well and very quickly. But sometimes just the tips of the forks are dark so I’ve found that if I put some aluminum foil in a cup with the solution (smaller amount of course) and very hot water, I can dip the tips and they come out shiny almost immediately. Thanks for solving what used to be a time-consuming chore.

  22. matty says:

    Hi Susan I made the experiment and it was amazing how the silver turns brigth and shine and the foil turns grey, it do it well, but i waist many foil and soda in this, may be do it something wrong…but it works, but the soda never bubles up like Karon said, well this is a chemistry experiment jaja, huges matty.

  23. Susan Keam says:

    I use washing soda crystals (6 grams/ litre of water; much cheaper than baking soda), boiling water and an old piece of aluminium (an old steamer insert works well) or aluminium foil in a plastic bowl. Silver must touch the aluminium and should be covered with the water. This works because of an electrochemical reaction – the oxidation has a greater affinity for the aluminium than the silver – and the soda solution provides the right environment for the chemical reaction. It works on sterling silver and silver plate, and only removes the tarnish, unlike abrasive silver polish.

  24. Cindy says:

    My husband polishes the silver sometimes and says this method doesn’t remove the silver. Sometimes the rubbing method removes a little of the silver.

    You have such neat houses in your pictures. I love to design samplers (of houses especially). I you need a sampler let me know. My house is getting full of them and I have no where to put any more. hahaha

  25. Natasha says:

    I always use to arm and hammer baking Soda for any households , laundry , bathroom tub and sink , etc its really working for me because its natural and old fashioned l dont like to smell any chemcial products for my allgeries that s why l read your many beautiful old countryside stuffs, new books, etc that s nice and l love old fashioned stuffs alike old furnitures, old classic movies, quilt bedding, etc since my childhood years !!

  26. Bert says:

    Will this work with an old 1922 sterling silver pitcher my mom got for a wedding gift in 1922?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes it will. But a pitcher has a large surface, so when you’re done getting all the tarnish off, a quick polish with silver paste would heighten the shine a bit more. How lucky you are to have such a piece! With memories intact!

  27. Mary Redle says:

    Every woman needs a wand and a crown somewhere to remind them of the magic they accomplish around the house daily. When I was teaching high school, a home ec teacher at that, my students gave me a wand and a crown for a gift. The wand and crown have a special place in my sewing room and reminds me not only of the kids but of the many miracles you perform as a teacher. I love your wand.

  28. evangeline says:

    I am looking forward to trying this on some old beloved silver that I have collected over the years. Just was given a beautiful casserole dish..I am going to use for Thanksgiving meal so I’m off to get the baking soda and salt… I enjoy making home… homey… so nice to share in your life .. u are a kindred spirit my friend… its a beautiful day.. evangeline

  29. Lynn Cunningham says:

    I read something on your blog every single day……and enjoy those moments so very much. The time spent is always worth it, and always makes me smile. Thank you for the helpful “cleaning silver” hint. I hope it works as well for me, even though I lack a wand (an oversight on my part).
    Christmas is coming….and one thing I really want is a copy of A Fine Romance. A friend of mine already has her copy…..I opened it at random, and fell in love instantly. Thank you so much for enriching my life!

  30. Leona Julian says:

    Does this process need to be in a porcelain sink? My sinks are stainless steel and I would hate to damage them. If I can not use the stainless steel sinks, could I do this process in a large rubber tub?
    Thanks, Leona

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure if it would hurt stainless sinks, that’s a very good question Leona — but the rubber tub is a brilliant idea!

      • Joan says:

        Hi , this is in reply to Leona’s question . I used this method in my stainless steel sink, and there wasn’t a problem. No damage done to sink. Like someone mentioned , the silver item has to be in contact with the foil . So, if you place many utensils , etc. in for cleaning , make sure each one is touching foil , not just resting on top of another item. If you have many items to clean , do them in smaller batches for a better outcome . ……Also , for intricate detail work on some silver pieces , I’d try using a clean/new , very soft toothbrush , to gently reach inside , all the tiny decorative crevices . ( Label the brush & keep it in a labeled ziploc bag , with your silver . ) Use the brush while the silver item is underwater , in the baking soda & salt solution , and part of it is touching the foil to achieve best results . Btw, I’ve kept my silver utensils in the sink solution for less than a minute & they turn clean . Depends on amount of tarnish I guess . 🙂

  31. adam stevens says:

    I dropped some silver cleaner on stainless sink and it made a dark stain.Can’t get ie off.. ANY REMEDY OUT THERE?



  32. Sweet Sue says:

    Good Morning Susan!
    I am sure having fun reading one of your posted blogs each morning before I start work! 🙂 Today I perused “Cleaning Silver” and just laughed and laughed at what Joe said when he saw the silver utensils and your wand in the sink. That is exactly what my Dusty would say….”Why don’t you just wave the wand over the silverware and forget all this?” 🙂 🙂 Then when you gave yourself the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval I had tears in my eyes as I laughed some more. They say a “cheerful heart is good medicine” so thank you so much for the gift of laughter this morning. And by the way I have tried this method of cleaning silver myself and yes, it really does work. Have a beautiful spring day today….any more flowers blooming where you live other than the snowdrops? I am getting excited about receiving my next order from Susan… confirmation yesterday from your gals that is was on its way!
    YEAH!!!!! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      We have so many things “on the verge” — tulips, daffodils, buds are everywhere, and crocus are in bloom.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        How exciting! Do take some more photos and send them to us when “Spring has Sprung” in full bloom in your neck of the woods! I bet you also get birds building nests and soon little baby birdies hatching and chirping away! Oh, how I love “Spring” and all the new life that appears all around us!
        Enjoy this day to the fullest! 🙂

  33. Tricia says:

    No one ever said if the foil works on brass or not I have yo clean tons of brass

  34. Missy says:

    I want to say a huge THANK YOU for this magical way of cleaning silver! I have a love of silver, and have had many pieces passed down, and have collected a few of my own over the years , but as I get older, I just dont want to polish them by hand. I was looking today at your older blogs and ran across this one….and I just finished trying it out. OMG…there are a couple of more intricately decorative pieces that I could not buff, but this method worked like a charm! In seconds so much of the tarnish disappeared like magic! I was beginning to think I would have to give them away , but now I am able to keep them and clean them so easily. It used to literally take me hours of polishing, but I was finished in 30 minutes, and no stinky polish smell either. THANK YOU! 🙂

  35. Julie Ratcliffe says:

    On a recent visit to the Lake District I bought a set of fruit spoons at a vintage fair. They were very tarnished. When we got home I put them away, thinking I would get round to cleaning them in due course, but not really sure how to go about it. Then I decided today that I would have a little catch up on your blog and low and behold I found this wonderful post. I’ve just finished drying all the pieces and I’m delighted with the results. Thankyou so much for putting this idea out there. Love your blog. So inspiring.

  36. edieb says:

    I have everything on hand except the baking soda..I guess it will not work without that????

  37. Judy Flynn says:

    I love this idea and want to try it soon….wa la!~~!! magic wand…for sure
    thanks for sharing…

  38. Vicki says:

    Omg! I remember my mother having a nifty gadget like this, but the tin foil/salt/soda mixture was like magic. All of my big pieces cleaned up beautifully and some needed only a minor touch up with polish. It save me a ton of time and is one more job I can cross off my summer to-do list.

  39. Camille Morgan says:

    I did this at the beginning of the holidays last year and it worked the same as yours! It sure beats cleaning every piece individually! Mine is close to 50 years old and has a nice patina !
    Cleaning silver takes forever but if done just a little at a time ;during the year, I seem to enjoy!
    I am talking about large things like tea pots, coffee pot, trays,etc! Putting it all off to the last minutes is exhausting!

  40. Kristi says:

    We used this method to clean all of our silver for our “Downton Abbey” sale. Thank goodness!

  41. Jan Reagin says:

    I used this method years ago on some silverplate silverware. It totally ruined the finish. After cleaning it this way several times, the silver was permanently dusty-gray, not shiny at all. I would not use this. Susan, please test this a few times, and you will see for yourself.

    • sbranch says:

      I have done it quite a few times now, but maybe it’s because I’m not using it on silverplate? Maybe that’s it.

  42. Kitty says:

    Instead of salt and soda- try using Tide laundry detergent in the foil lined sink. Also, salt and vinegar work wonders to brighten copper pieces.

  43. Lynn J says:

    It also works on silver jewelry, it doesn’t hurt the gemstones but I would be careful with opals or pearls.

    • Dana says:

      Also jade, any “soft” stone.
      How do we clean the bristles in those bruises without melting the 130 year old glue that holds them in the wooden base inside the sterling tops and handles?

  44. Phyllis Sharp says:

    I’ve been using the baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil method to clean my silver for over twenty five years. For many years I was chairman of the exhibitors’ committee for an antiques’ show on the East Coast. I learned the above method from the silver exhibitors who sold old and very fine pieces of silver. I would like to make one addition to the instructions. You have an enamel sink. For those of us who have sinks made with other materials, I would recommend lining a large enamel roasting pan or a plastic tub with aluminum foil rather than lining a sink. You don’t want the metal in your sink to be part of the chemical reaction in this cleaning method.

  45. Brenda Ackley says:

    I love your work Susan Branch!! Everything you do, make, & say always have …have your calendars, books, cards, stickers anything I can find of yours love your cook books! Love your work and all the sweetness it shows your values & love, Thank You so MUCH!!♥♥♥♥♥ Brenda Ackley Whidbey Island, Washington☺

  46. Susan says:

    I have to admit I cringed when I linked to this article and started reading your post. I grew up with my Nana and Mother both telling me that this method was harmful to silver and silver plate. Reading your post inspired me to research and understand the chemical reaction, and it turns out this method is actually HELPFUL to silver restoring the silver back instead of just removing it like you would through polish. (Citing my links for other curious chemists: and Anxious to try it out very soon!

    Sidenote – I adore everything you do. I have been a fan for more than 20 years -(since I was 10) always stealing your books off my Nana’s shelf. Thank you for the adorable inspiration you have provided me throughout my life!

  47. Ros redman says:

    I have just used the 6gms of soda crystals and a litre of boiling water on my silver plated cultery and it worked like magic thank you all so much. I am about to try it on my small piece of silver. Thank you.

  48. k brenner says:

    This worked GREAT and even simpler.. I used one of those aluminum disposable baking pans and just added the salt, baking soda and boiling water to the pan. No aluminum foil needed!

  49. Laura says:

    My sister told me that a professional silver restorer told her that this method will damage silverware. Just thought I would add what I heard!! I have been doing it your way for several years….my Mom told me about it!
    I’m wondering if anyone has asked antique silverware dealers…..they would want to know how to clean without damaging.

  50. Debby Conyers says:

    This way of cleaning silver is really great. I bought a sheet of metal from a dealer at a show that works with Calgon water softener. That was 20 years or so ago. It doesn’t work so well now, so I’m going to try your method.

    I learned from friends in Warrensburg, MO, that lemon juice, or vinegar with salt is a great way to clean copper or brass. You don’t dip it, though you could I guess, I never tried that. It works faster, but you might need a little of the commercial brass & copper cleaner to smooth it out.

    I, too, enjoy your arts and crafts, Susan. Someone gave me a box of little cards several years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. Your gifts are ever growing. It is real creativity when you can use it in so many ways.

  51. Linda says:

    Wow! The tarnish disappeared like magic. I used a little bit of apple cider vinegar also.
    I’ve had my silver plate flatware since about 1965. Only used it a little bit. Always kept in a silverware chest. Had very little tarnish. Cleaned up with a polishing cloth.
    A year ago we downsized from a house to a fift-wheel camper. Couldn’t part with my silverware, so I gave away the silver chest because of the size and weight. We have been using it for everyday now. But it was getting tarnished. Tried making a fold over container in the drawer with silver-cloth. Didn’t help much. Hard to clean with the silver polish cloth. Been kicking myself for getting rid of the silver chest. But this worked like magic. It looks almost like new, except for the wear scratches. It’s beautiful bright silver again.
    Thank you soooooooo much!
    PS; I make sterling silver wire jewelry. This method is probably OK if your jewelry is all sterling silver. I wouldn’t use it, if the jewelry has any natural stones. Especially turquoise. Jewel-Brite works great on silver jewelry. Gently brush on the paste and dip into the liquid. Rinse with water and dry.
    PPS; For Pure copper jewelry, use a cup of warm water, a little salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Drop in the copper. Remove in a minute. Rinse in plain water and dry. Do lot let it soak for a long time.
    Also always store sterling silver or copper jewelry in a tightly closed plastic bag. This helps prevent tarnish.

  52. Linda says:

    I put white chalk in my silver drawers, cabinets and storage boxes and jewelry boxes to slow the tarnish and in some cases keeps it away, like on my jewelry.

  53. Fran says:

    I have some family silver plate I am handing down to my daughter. This method saved me a lot of work. It worked very well! Thank you.

  54. That is so interesting! I had no idea that I can clean silver with baking soda and table salt. I thought that I should buy some special cleaner for that. Thanks a lot for sharing this trick! Chislehurst Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  55. Shari Smotherman says:

    I learned to clean silver using aluminum foil, salt, baking soda or Calgon, & hot water years ago on Mr Rodgers Neighborhood. You just have to make sure the silver piece is completely covered or the water line may show. For large pieces, I’ve lined the bathtub with foil.

    • sbranch says:

      Wow. In that case I would think it would be faster to polish the thing the old fashioned way! I picture myself in a Lucy Ricardo situation with the aluminum foil in my bathtub. (But that is me generally speaking.)

  56. Lara Tomas says:

    Wow! Your silverware looks like new after the cleaning! But can I clean my jewelry the same way? Will this mixture harm the stones? May be I should try only with the pieces which don’t have stones on them ? Have you tried to clean you jewelry this way?

    • sbranch says:

      I wouldn’t try it with stones ~ I have no idea how it world work, but I wouldn’t take chances. Sterling bangles yes, but nothing with stones.

  57. I have an set of silver wear from my mother in law, passed away. It is a great looking set but old and tarnished. As we do not need it I am selling it on Ebay. Its an Original Wm Rogers silverware and hope to get the grand kids something special on their birthday from Grandma. Thanks for the tip, I am working on it this weekend. More to follow.


  58. Ky Jennings says:

    I’ve been cleaning silver this way ever since I went to a holiday show & bought the metal tray kit with a package of bicarbonate powder. It worked for years & when it slowed down, I created my own with tin foil & Calgon Water Softener. It was the box with the Rainbow on front & is hard to find but a plainer box now. It works & is better than strong chemicals. I change the water a couple times, add fresh powder for more, such as Christmas bells, & fancy areas, then polish dry. It’s magic!

  59. Great idea! I was not sure that baking soda will work. Your photos show me the difference. I am going to try it immediately. Thank you for sharing your article. Best regards!

  60. Frannie Reploge says:

    I just unboxed a silver coffee urn that my mother had covered in Saran wrap 30 yrs ago. It has adhered in some places. Any suggestions for removing wrap “scraps”?

  61. Deborah Winter says:

    Hi there!

    I am so happy you post things about tables and place cards because I like the decorating even more than the food and that is saying something. This year, I am renting as I just sold my house and couldn’t find the right home in time for the holidays. Believe it or not what I miss most is the garden and my herbs but I am trusting that just the right place will be available at the right time and then I will be settled. I am so sure about this that I have only partially unpacked; very strange to be living amongst boxes everywhere. This will be a different holiday but I intend to enjoy it immensely regardless. Yes the silverware trick works; Sharon Lovejoy and Kathleen Gibbs passed on the hint at a Herb Society conference a few years ago. Works like a charm. Already ordered Isle of Dreams and predict that yes a movie will be made and you will be even more popular than you already are. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us; I believe you will be rewarded tremendously because that is how the universe works!

  62. Gail Golden says:

    I did it this week, too, and it works!

  63. Patti g says:

    I am just now coming to this column. What a wonderfully easy way for a quick clean up. I cannot wait to try it out on a silver tea set I have. It will motivate me to finish the job properly and to get the set back into use.

  64. Marilyn Young says:

    Such a wonderful tip on polishing my silver. After my husband passed, I gave all my silver and nice things to my girls thinking I’d never use it again. Alas, I’m not borrowing it back, cleaning it “your way” and enjoying it again. Thanks so much for all you do.

  65. Jean Hensley says:

    I love everything you do, Susan. When I see something from Susan Branch in my email, I get so excited because I know I will see wonderful things and it sort of takes me away from the real world for a little while. You make me want to decorate everything in my house!

  66. Margaret Longlet says:

    Thanks for the silver polishing hint! But mostly, thank you for the blogs, the Willards and all of the books you have written including the wonderful latest one. How do you do it? I mean, how can you write in such a way as to make me feel that you are sitting at my table talking to me? I am thankful for your inspiration and openness…you are one of my treasures and you don’t even know me! Happy Thanksgiving Day.

    • sbranch says:

      I think I wrote so many letters when I was younger, to my girlfriends and family, that’s basically what I do now. With love from me to you. xoxo

  67. Connie Haltermann says:

    I loved hearing Hard to Say by Dan Fogelberg on your blog. I have every song he ever sang (I am definitely a music person, so I have lots and lots of CD’s. ) Can you hear Glenn Frey from the Eagles backing him up on this song? I loved Dan’s later albums just as much as his first albums. What a singer/songwriter he was!

    I have a good son. He called me as soon as he heard the news of Dan’s death a few years ago. He didn’t want me to hear it first on the radio because he knew how upset I would be, even though we had known of Dan’s battle for some time. I still play Dan’s music all the time because I love his voice so much. Thank you for honoring his memory today by playing one of his songs.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Susan, and a beautiful Christmas. (It’s almost time to get out your gorgeous red Christmas cookbook, “Christmas From the Heart of the Home”–it’s the BEST!

  68. Diana @gardenthymewithdiana says:

    I’m going to try this on the silver, thanks for the pictures too.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  69. Betty says:

    Love the simple idea of how to clean my grandmother’s wonderful silver! Thank you again Susan

  70. Kathy Jaynes says:

    Beautiful blog. Always a pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving!

  71. Barb Gentile says:

    Thanks for the silver cleaning idea….really works! And I’m trying your dressing on Thursday. My grandma use to make it that way. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

  72. Annabelle says:

    I started to peruse your huge amount of please forgive me if you already answered this question. Do the pieces have to lay without another piece touching them. I’m guessing that you can put them in the sink maybe covering each piece with another piece as long as they weren’t two identical pieces attached like in the silverware drawer/chest. Thanks. I want to try but I’m a bit afraid.

  73. Annabelle says:

    Woops, forgot to ask if after taking your pieces out and rinsed can you add another load to the original fill, or after 20 minutes is the water too cool?

  74. Amazing! 😉
    what a great tip! thank you so much. i’ll do this at home and i’ll be back for the result..

  75. Mary Ann McCann says:

    Dear Susan,
    Just finished reading another fun and inspiring blog. Thank you. It was fun and energizing! Now to get back to Christmas decorating! I will definitely try your recipe for shining silver, thank you!

  76. Inez Scott says:

    Really great tip! I definitely need to clean my silver forks and spoons, so I’ll try your cleaning idea! It sounds really easy and efficient! I love it! Thanks for sharing it! Greetings!

  77. Clare Anderson says:

    My late mother used & swore by a method she had learned from somebody & regularly used herself in removing tarnish from her silver items: using Tide Laundry Detergent in the aluminum foil-covered sink. She always swore by it, but I never got the specific details from her. If anybody has used this method, I’m wondering what the right amount of Tide Laundry Detergent would be. Can anyone advise me on this? (If, by chance, it was already mentioned, I didn’t catch it.)

  78. Charly Fowler says:

    Doesn’t this ruin the patina of silver?

  79. Stephanie says:

    Oh my goodness! This works! I am so thrilled. When I saw the price to get my silverplate flatware replated I almost had a heart attach! Went online for ideas and found this. Now I can reset my Thanksgiving table with my beautiful silverpate which an hour ago was pitch black!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it works! Makes life so much easier! Still good to use old-fashioned polish when possible, but for emergency giant gatherings, this is the only way to go!

  80. I love this idea, and will recommend it to our clients. We’re often asked to clean silver, but very rarely do we accept, just because we’re better at cleaning other things, leaving our clients time to do their own silver. Great tip!

  81. Deborah says:

    would this clean a silver tea set and should iI increase the ingredients.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes it would, you would need to increase ingredients so you can fit all under water.

      • Margie says:

        Was just going to ask this question about my mother’s tea service. I wonder if it will fit in my sink. Much better than those messy creams and lotions, with less time. Just have to put the proportions on a recipe card so it’s handy. Using the good silver also helps to keep it polished, or is that an old wives tale?

  82. Patty says:

    i used ketchup on brass…left it on, rinsed, and buffed…gorgeous!

  83. Nice tips to sharing in this article. Thanks to sharing with us. These cleaning silver tips are very helpful for every person.

  84. Teresa says:

    Susan, your flatware (third from right) is Buttercup by Gorham. It’s a beautiful pattern.

  85. Elizabeth McCrea says:

    Just another reason I love you, Susan Branch!

  86. Joyce says:

    Dear Sue,
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe. I thank you for all of the laughs and tears and smiles. You are an inspiration to me and I am grateful to be one of your girlfriends.
    Love, Joyce

  87. Judith Schmidt says:

    I use a aluminum roasting pan from the grocery or dollar store. Fill it wil boiling water and put about 2-3 cups of Arm and Hammer laundry detergent in The pan stir until it is dissolved. Put your silver in and you do not need to leave it for 1/2 hr in and purity is done. I do clean my sterling silver jewelry only.

  88. Judy Blevins says:

    Abracadabra! Worked like magic. All my grandmother’s silver plate is like new. So excited to use it for our Thanksgiving table. Yippee! Thank you for this timesaver, Susan!

  89. Carolyn Rector says:

    I love this method, and I keep all my silver stored in plastic zip lock bags to stop the oxidation.

  90. Candice says:

    I have used this method before and it does work. I also have silver polishing cloths that I purchased in England, if you go into a jewelers shop you will sometimes see clerks wear gloves and/or are carrying one of these blue cloths around with them. Goddard’s Long Term Silver Cloth also has By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen coat of arms seal of approval.
    They are inexpensive and last quite awhile. They only loose their effectiveness if you wash them, but then they make brilliant dust cloths as they are made of soft flannel.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve gotten those in jewelry stores before, they’re really nice and do such a good job on silver jewelry. If I only have a few pieces of silverware to polish I do it the old fashioned way, with Wright’s Silver Cream and elbow grease ~ but it gets in the cracks on jewelry so the polishing cloths are much better!

  91. Becky Daugherty says:

    It’s a lazy Saturday morning and I’m surfing through your website for the billionth time.
    I saw how you clean your silverware and I do mine almost the same way. Instead of salt and baking soda, I just use Spic and Span. My silver looks wonderful. I do agree with you about doing the polishing by hand IF you aren’t in a hurry but I’m a bit lazy anymore so
    I use the S & S all the time.
    My grocery store doesn’t carry Spic & Span any longer 😟… so I order it through Amazon.

  92. Robin Ann says:

    I think I’ve said this before, but this tip is the BEST! I now use all of my old silverplate ALL the time. I never used to do that “I’ll just have to polish it…” I’ve got a fun assortment of odd forks, knives, spoons and miscellany that can be bought fir a pittance at antique shops – I MISS antique shops, haven’t been since maybe December, I’m going to mask up and go early one day soon. I also have some old family pieces that I now use regularly. So much fun. They bring back sweet memories. Thank you SO much!

  93. Karen Foley says:

    I have some handmade silver jewelry and a locket with lots of nooks and crannies that make it impossible to polish by hand–I tried this method and they came out beautiful!! Thank you for the tip!

  94. Mary Therese Slota says:

    I love your blog & everything about it! Thank you.

    Did I see a Susan Branch puzzle somewhere? I thought I did, & I would love to have one. Please advise. Blessings

    • sbranch says:

      I think we have them on our shopping page… you’ll see “shopping” at the top of the blog. I’m pretty sure we haven’t run out!

  95. sara says:

    I love your blog & everything about it! Thank you.

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