How to Polish Silver: 13 Weird Tricks That Really Work

Make your tarnished silver and dull jewelry shine like new after a cleaning with these trusted common household items.

1/13 View as List

Aluminum foil


Tarnished silver is no match for this aluminum foil "recipe." Bring one liter of water, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one piece of aluminum foil to a boil. Drop silverware in the pot for 10 seconds (longer if it's very tarnished), then remove using kitchen tongs. Magic! Here's how to polish silver if the built-up tarnish persists: make a thick paste with 1/4 cup baking soda and two tablespoons of water. Apply with a damp sponge, then rinse and dry. Did you know there's a reason aluminum foil has a shiny and a dull side?

Laundry detergent


To make your jewelry or silverware sparkle, line a medium-sized bowl with aluminum foil and fill it with hot water. Mix in one tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent, then soak your silver for one minute. Rinse with clean water, and air-dry. Find out if you're using too much detergent when you're doing laundry.



If your silver is tarnished, ketchup can help. Here's how to polish silver with this common condiment: Squirt a small amount on a paper towel, and rub gently over the tarnished areas. If your silver isn't getting shinier, let the ketchup sit for 15 minutes, then rub with a soft cloth and rinse clean. For items that have textured details, as with some candlesticks or fancy silverware, use a toothbrush to clean between the crevices.

Here's why—brace yourselves—you might not want to put ketchup on a hot dog.



A paste of cornstarch and water will make silver look new again. Apply with a damp cloth, let dry, then rub off with something mildly abrasive, like cheesecloth or a rough towel. Tip: You can substitute cream of tartar if you're out of cornstarch. Here are some more ingenious household uses for cornstarch.

Hand sanitizer


Hand sanitizer not only fights germs, but it provides a great method for how to polish silver. Squirt a few drops on a soft cloth and rub away the tarnish. Here's why hand sanitizer might not be as effective on your hands as you think it is.

Lemon-lime soda


Recapture shine by dunking your silver items in a bowl of lemon-lime soda for one hour. Rinse and dry thoroughly. This might actually be a better way to use soda than drinking it—here's why.



Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste on a rag and polish your silver. Then rinse—and see how it shines!

Toothpaste can solve all sorts of household problems that have nothing to do with teeth. Find out how.

Window cleaner


Here's how to polish silver while you're cleaning your windows—kill two chores with one stone. Spray window cleaner on a rag or toothbrush, and use it to gently scrub your sterling silver. You should be able to restore your silver to its original shiny state.

You won't believe these crazy stories from people who wash windows for a living.

Hair conditioner

iStock/Stephan Zabel

If you want to prevent tarnish, try rubbing conditioner on clean silver. Conditioner can also clean lots of other things besides silverware (and hair)—check them out here.



Silverware will stay shiny if you keep a few pieces of chalk in the drawer or chest where you store it. The chalk absorbs moisture, preventing your nice utensils from tarnishing.

1/13 View as List

Become more interesting every week!

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.