How to Clean Sterling Silver
While cleaning various parts of your house may seem simple, cleaning jewelry is not so easy, especially pieces made of silver. The task of cleaning your jewelry might be put off because it's easy to wear silver continuously and never take it off, such as your favorite go-to necklace or silver earrings. While those might only need a light polish, it's the more significant or delicate pieces of silver jewelry that are not used frequently or stored in a dark place that will require a deeper clean.
Your piece of sterling silver jewelry will need to be adequately cleaned because of the tarnish buildup that naturally occurs on silver jewelry over time. When sulfur or oxygen encounters silver, it will chemically bond to it. That causes the silver to appear discolored or dirty. If you want your jewelry to last a long time, then it's essential to take proper care of your jewelry by trying to clean it. If you're ready to take proper care of your products, check out our complete guide on how to clean sterling silver jewelry.
What Is Sterling Silver Jewelry?
Sterling silver is a combination of different metals instead of pure silver, which consists of only one metal. Sterling Silver is 7.5% alloy (usually made of zinc or copper) and 92.5% silver. Jewelry makers commonly use sterling silver because it's durable and easy to work with. Sterling silver is high quality, and if purchased from a reputable jeweler, will last for a lifetime, keep its strength and look gorgeous.
In the United States, sterling silver jewelry is regulated with a 925 stamp that must be put on all certified silver content of 95.2%. This stamp is usually hidden on the jewelry, not to make it prominent or visible when wearing. Check inside rings, under clasps, or around irregular edges to find this stamp. Silver can mean many things and is not always related to sterling silver, so it's essential to verify its authentic sterling silver.
Why Does Silver Tarnish?
If you've noticed an unwanted dark color appearing on your sterling silver jewelry, it's most likely due to Tarnish. Tarnish is a chemical reaction that occurs when sulfur or oxygen encounters jewelry, which leads to your silver looking less shiny or dull. It can completely change your jewelry's look, so it's essential to maintain your jewelry by cleaning it regularly.
What Preventative Care Options Exist?
Tarnish will naturally occur regardless of the care you provide because it will still have exposure to the elements like heat, air, or moisture. However, you can do your best to prevent and limit your jewelry's amount of exposure to these elements and keep your sterling silver jewelry as tarnish-free as possible.
- Store Your Jewelry Properly: The easiest way to prevent tarnish on your sterling silver jewelry is to store your jewelry in anti-tarnish bags properly. Anti-tarnish bags are made from plastic and neutralize or absorb any of the harmful gasses exposed to your jewelry. It's essential to put your anti-tarnish bags into a dark, cool place.
- Avoid Humidity: It's important to keep your jewelry in an area where it will have the least amount of exposure to humidity. Therefore, it's not recommended to keep your sterling silver jewelry in places such as a bathroom or kitchen area. An easy way to lower the humidity in your anti-tarnish bag is to add charcoal, chalk, or gel to your bag.
- Wear Your Jewelry Often: As weird as it may seem, wearing your sterling silver jewelry is one of the simplest ways to avoid tarnish. The oil on your skin will keep your jewelry shiny and serve as a cleanser. Make sure to still take the time to clean your jewelry when you've finished wearing it.
- Take it Off for Outdoor Activities: Even though it helps to wear your jewelry often, you don't want to wear it during outdoor activities that can potentially damage your jewelry. Make sure to take off any jewelry before doing any type of contact sport, swimming, gardening, or exercise at the gym.
How Can I Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry at Home Easily?
While your local jeweler can help clean your silver professionally, you're also able to clean your sterling silver jewelry at home. Gentle cleaning of your jewelry is very important because silver is a glistening, soft metal. If you need to clean your sterling silver jewelry quickly, you can mix dishwashing soap or baby shampoo and water together to clean your silver. Follow our easy steps to clean your sterling silver jewelry quickly.
- Find dishwashing soap or baby shampoo and add a few drops to a cup of warm water. You want to keep mixing the solution until you see bubbles.
- Then, collect your sterling silver jewelry and let it soak in the solution for up to 12 minutes.
- Once it's finished soaking, use a soft brush with bristles to clean any hard-to-reach areas.
- To finish, rinse off your sterling silver jewelry in warm water using either a microfiber towel or silver cloth. Avoid any rough material, such as paper towels, or wool as that can damage your jewelry.
DIY Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry Solutions
Sometimes, using a regular water and soap solution won't always complete the job or keep your sterling silver as shiny as you had hoped for. There are plenty of other ways to clean Sterling silver jewelry by using everyday items in your pantry, such as white vinegar, olive oil, or lemon juice. Here are the top DIY solutions to clean your Sterling Silver jewelry.
- How to Clean Sterling Silver with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice Mixture: For this mixture, you'll need to mix one teaspoon of olive oil and ½ a cup of lemon juice together until it forms a solution. Once it's properly mixed, use a microfiber towel or silver cloth to dip into the mixture and rub your sterling silver until it's shiny. Once you've finished, make sure to rinse off your jewelry and allow it to dry.
- How to Clean Sterling Silver with Baking Soda Mixture: To make a baking soda paste, mix ½ cup of water with 1 cup of baking soda until it forms a paste. Gently take out the mixture and rub it onto your jewelry. Let the paste dry, and then rinse it off to remove any tarnish left on your sterling silver jewelry. From there, rinse off your jewelry and dry it with a microfiber towel.
- How to Clean Sterling Silver with Toothpaste: Using toothpaste is an easy way to clean your jewelry. Use a tiny pea size amount, and rub it onto your sterling silver jewelry using a soft brush. Once you're done scrubbing, rinse it off in warm water, and dry the jewelry with a microfiber towel.
- Vinegar Solution: Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with ½ cup of white vinegar to create this solution. You will start to see the combination fizz, which is entirely normal. Allow your jewelry to soak in this mixture for at least two hours. Once it's done soaking, rinse it in warm water and dry your sterling silver jewelry with a microfiber towel.
How to Clean a Sterling Silver Chain
Silver chains can easily collect tarnish from sweat, lotion, or perfumes. You'll frequently find silver sulfide hiding on silver chains. The easiest way to clean this type of jewelry is to use baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil.
- First, line a pan or bowl with aluminum foil.
- Place boiling water inside of the pan.
- Add two teaspoons of kosher salt along with ¼ cup baking soda. Make sure to stir!
- Allow your jewelry to soak while mixing gently to help the cleaning process.
- Let your jewelry sit for 10 minutes.
- Rinse with warm water and use a microfiber cloth to dry.
How to Clean Sterling Silver Earrings
Sterling silver earrings can be easy to forget about if you wear them every day. However, it's still necessary to clean your earrings and adequately care for your jewelry to ensure you don't have any tarnish collecting on your silver. The easiest way to clean your sterling silver earrings is to either use the toothpaste method or a simple soap and water cleaner. If you find any hard-to-reach areas, make sure to use a soft bristle brush to complete the cleaning process.
How to Clean a Sterling Silver Ring
You can naturally clean your sterling silver ring by wearing it often. However, if you haven't stored your ring correctly or haven't washed it for an extended period, you'll need to take special care to clean it. You can try to use a simple water and soap method to clean your ring. If that doesn't seem to work, you can use one of the above ways to clean your sterling silver ring.
How to Clean a Sterling Silver Ring
- How do I know if My Sterling Silver is Real?
- Magnet Test: Your sterling silver jewelry, along with other metals like gold, is not magnetic. Put any type of magnet near your silver, and if the magnet picks it up, then it's not genuine sterling silver.
- Check for Odor: If you can smell a strong odor, like copper or brass, then it's not real because Sterling Silver does not have any smell to it.
- Use a White Cloth: Silver will oxidize or become darker. If you grab a white, clean cloth and massage it against your silver jewelry, then it should show some type of black spot if it's real sterling silver.
- Take it To a Jeweler: Taking your sterling silver jewelry into a jeweler is the easiest way to check if your sterling silver is real. A professional jeweler will be able to use a magnifying glass, along with other tools, to check if it's authentic.
- How to clean sterling silver with gemstones?
- How to clean sterling silver rings with diamonds?
- How to clean sterling silver without baking soda?
- What are the benefits of purchasing sterling silver jewelry?
The first way to tell if your Sterling Silver is authentic is to look for the 925 stamp that the United States requires. Often, the mark is hidden, so make sure to check on the inside of your jewelry, under clasps, or around irregular edges. If you're unable to find the marking, you have a few other options to confirm the jewelry you own is genuine sterling silver.
The hardest part of cleaning sterling silver with gemstones is that there may be hard-to-reach areas present on your jewelry. To properly clean your sterling silver jewelry with gemstones, you need to be gentle and enlist the help of a soft bristle brush to guarantee you can reach all your silver's nooks and crannies. You can use any type of cleaner listed above to complete the cleaning process.
Like the previous question, you will need to use a soft bristle brush or microfiber towel to ensure you can gently clean your sterling silver rings. The diamonds are durable, so you don't need to worry about them falling off during the cleaning process. It is important not to use rough materials like wool or paper towels on your jewelry to ensure it doesn't become scratched.
You don't need to use baking soda on your sterling silver jewelry if you don't want to. You can use simple soap or baby shampoo and water to clean your jewelry. If that doesn't seem to help, you can instead use toothpaste, olive oil, or lemon juice. If you don't want to use any of those options, you can always take it to a jeweler or buy a professional cleaning product from your local retailer.
There are many benefits to owning jewelry made of sterling silver. The material is strong and can last a lifetime if it's real sterling silver. Sterling silver increases energy, decreases inflammation, and is hypoallergenic. Plus, there are endless designs to choose from to match your unique style.
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