How To Clean Sterling Silver
Sterling Silver is susceptible to tarnish – this is a natural reaction the metal has with chemicals in the air. One way to slow down the tarnishing effect is to keep your silver jewelry in airtight plastic bags.
Thankfully, preventative maintenance can help keep your sterling silver jewelry looking great for years to come. Frequent light polishing with a polishing cloth designed for sterling silver will help minimize tarnish. There is also a liquid cleaner that is available in drugstores, but certain stones such as moonstone, pearls, opals, malachite, etc cannot be cleaned this way, so read the bottle carefully to make sure you can use it.
You can also do the following:
1. use a heatproof glass jar or bowl in the sink.
2. fill it about 2/3 full with boiling water (be careful not to burn yourself)
3. take a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap your jewelry loosely (You can put 2 or 3 items at once)
4. drop the foil packet into the jar or bowl
5. add 2 heaping tablespoons of baking soda
6. watch as the water foams up, possibly overflowing
7. when the foaming stops, use tongs to retrieve and rinse the hot foil packet (do not use your hands)
8. open packet and rinse jewelry in cool water
9. if necessary, brush the jewelry with an old toothbrush dipped in warm soapy water to brighten the finish
This creation is a "red-ox" reaction. The silver takes electrolytes from the foil and gives off oxygen, removing the tarnish.