Cleaning up silver, like those beautiful antique water pitchers, tea pots and silverware, has traditionally meant rubbing on a funky smelling cream to remove that black tarnish and dipping silver jewelry into some kind of powerful chemical eye-burning liquid. Those overwhelmingly strong smells had to mean it was working, right?

1. Aluminum Foil

This aluminum foil solution is one of the most popular for shining up tarnished silver. In fact, some call it the “holy grail of all natural silver polish.” It’s like a magic cleaning wand that makes that tarnish disappear instantly, right before your eyes.

To use this technique, gather together the following:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Aluminum or glass baking dish
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • Soft cloth for polishing
  • Tongs to remove silverware from the boiling water


  • Bring the cup of water to a boil in a pot on the stove. When the water is mixed with the other ingredients, it will activate the baking soda to start the process of transferring the tarnish to the foil.
  • Add your dry ingredients to the pot and then slowly pour in the vinegar, being extra cautious as it will result in a slight reaction. While vinegar isn’t an absolutely necessary ingredient in the process, it will help to speed it up significantly.
  • Pour the boiling water in after the vinegar. Now place your silver into the pot, making sure each piece is touching the foil. Avoid letting any of the pieces overlap, they should all be spaced apart at least slightly.  Leave them in for 30 seconds, or a few minutes if the pieces are heavily tarnished.
  • Using your tongs, remove the silver and rub off any remaining spots by buffing with the soft cloth. Your silver will now be restored to its original glory.

2. Ketchup

While it definitely sounds rather bizarre, ketchup can actually clean tarnished silver. Kind of makes you wonder if you should be consuming it, but it does do a great job for this purpose. All you need to do is add a little bit to a paper towel and then gently rub it over tarnished areas of the silver. For tough objects that just don’t seem to be getting any shinier, you may need to allow the ketchup to stay on them for 15 to 20 minutes and then rub the tarnish off with a soft cloth. For objects that have textured details like fancy silverware, use a toothbrush to get into those hard to reach areas.

3. Baking soda

If you don’t want to go through the entire aluminum foil method, or you’re just out of foil, you can use baking soda on its own. You’ll need to completely cover your tarnished pieces in baking soda – use a generous amount, covering the objects until they’re totally immersed in the white powder. Allow it to sit and perform its magic for about 30 minutes. After that period, dampen a soft cloth with hot water and then buff the baking soda into the piece using the cloth to rub off the tarnish. Rinse the object thoroughly in hot water, and watch that shine come through.

4. Rubbing alcohol

For mild mineral spots or residue, you can mix together 4 parts water and 1 part rubbing alcohol in a bowl. Simply dip a clean, soft cloth into the mixture, and then rub it over your silver. Afterward, wipe it dry using another clean cloth.

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