The best way to keep your silver jewelry clean is by wearing it often. However, humidity and storing the silver can tarnish the piece, also known as oxidation, which will give the silver a darkish black color. Tarnish is most easily removed when it first becomes visible.
There are several methods to clean your tarnished silver. A popular method is to use a liquid silver cleaner (which smells like rotten eggs) that you can purchase at a jewelry store or a Walmart or Target. Put the piece of silver in the little tray, swish it around, and the original beautiful silver shine is restored.
A silver polishing cloth formulated specifically to remove tarnish is effective in cleaning silver jewelry.
Another great method for cleaning sterling silver jewelry, especially when you don’t have silver cleaner or a polishing cloth at home, is toothpaste! Put some toothpaste on an old toothbrush and gently rub the toothpaste into the silver. Let it sit for a few minutes and wash it off. If you’re trying to shine a chain, put toothpaste on the chain and pull it through a wash cloth or paper towel. You’ll see the cloth turn black and you’ll know you’re cleaning the piece.
The aluminum foil method also works great. Fill a bowl or jar halfway with hot water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the bowl or a little more, depending on the size of the bowl. Mix the salt until it dissolves. Add a few strips of aluminum foil to the bowl. Add the silver jewelry to the bowl. Stir it around and let it sit for a few minutes. The aluminum foil interacts with the salt and removes the tarnish off the silver. Rinse the jewelry with water. This process may need to be repeated a few times, but it is very effective in restoring your silver jewelry to its original shine.
Particularly valuable or antique pieces of silver should always be hand-polished, as buffing can permanently damage such a piece.