How to Restore Shine to Blackened Silver Jewelry and Items

jewelry cleaning tools

Silver, with its timeless elegance, has been a cherished metal for jewelry, cutlery, and decorative items for centuries. 

However, if you’ve ever noticed your silver items turning black, don’t worry – this is a common occurrence due to tarnishing. 

Whether it’s a treasured heirloom or a special accessory, you can easily bring back its lustrous shine.

In this article, we’ll delve into why silver turns black and explore various effective methods to restore its brilliance and beauty. 

Let’s begin.

Why Does Silver Turn Black?

Before diving into the cleaning methods, it’s essential to understand why silver loses its luster. Silver reacts with sulfur compounds in the air, forming a layer of silver sulfide on its surface. 

This black layer dulls the shine of silver items, resulting in a familiar blackened appearance. Other factors like moisture, humidity, and exposure to certain chemicals can accelerate tarnishing.

Common Methods to Clean Blackened Silver

There are several tried-and-true methods to clean silver that have turned black. Let’s explore these methods step by step:

Method 1: Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil

This simple yet effective method involves using baking soda and aluminum foil to create a chemical reaction that removes tarnish. 

Start by lining a bowl with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Add hot water and a tablespoon of baking soda. 

Submerge your silver items, ensuring they touch the aluminum foil. Let them sit for a few minutes, and you’ll notice the tarnish transferring from the silver to the foil. 

Gently rinse and polish the items afterward.

Method 2: Toothpaste and Soft Cloth

Toothpaste isn’t just for your teeth – it can work wonders on blackened silver too. Use a non-gel, non-abrasive toothpaste and a soft cloth. 

Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the cloth and gently rub the tarnished areas. Rinse the item with water and dry it thoroughly. 

This method is especially useful for intricate designs and delicate pieces.

Method 3: Lemon Juice and Salt

The natural acidity of lemon juice combined with the abrasive properties of salt can help remove tarnishes. 

Create a mixture of lemon juice and salt, and use a soft cloth to gently rub it onto the silver surface. Rinse and dry the item afterward. 

However, be cautious with this method, as excessive use could potentially damage the silver.

Method 4: Commercial Silver Cleaners

There are numerous commercial silver cleaning products available in the market. These cleaners are specifically formulated to remove tarnishes without harming the silver. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test the product on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire item.

Method 5: Professional Cleaning

For valuable or intricate silver pieces, seeking professional cleaning services from a jeweler or silversmith is a prudent choice. 

They have the expertise to clean and restore silver items without causing any damage.

Preventing Silver from Turning Black

Prevention is key to keeping your silver items looking radiant. Store them in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals, lotions, and perfumes. 

Using anti-tarnish strips or bags when storing your silver can help slow down the tarnishing process.

Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Silver

  • Do: Use soft cloths and gentle cleaning methods to avoid scratching the silver.
  • Do: Test any cleaning method on a small area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the item.
  • Don’t: Use abrasive materials like steel wool or harsh chemicals that can harm the silver.
  • Don’t: Overclean your silver, as excessive cleaning can lead to wear over time.


Your blackened silver doesn’t have to stay that way. With the methods outlined in this article, you can restore its shine and bring back its original beauty. 

Remember to handle your silver items with care, and they’ll continue to sparkle for generations to come.

Did you know you can also clean gold jewelry with toothpaste? Read How to Clean Gold Jewelry with Toothpaste.


  1. Can I use ketchup to clean blackened silver? While ketchup contains acidic properties, it’s not recommended for cleaning silver, as it may contain sugars and additives that could potentially harm the metal.
  2. Is it safe to use a toothbrush on silver? Yes, a soft-bristle toothbrush can be used to clean intricate patterns or detailed areas. However, make sure it’s a gentle brushing to avoid scratches.
  3. How often should I clean my silver items? Clean your silver items when you notice tarnishing or loss of shine. Avoid overcleaning, as it can lead to wear.
  4. Can I use vinegar to clean silver? While vinegar can be effective, its strong acidic nature may damage the silver surface. It’s safer to opt for milder alternatives like lemon juice.
  5. Are ultrasonic cleaners suitable for silver? Ultrasonic cleaners can be effective but should be used with caution. They’re best suited for professional cleaning, as improper use can damage delicate silver items.


Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels