How To Clean Silver With Aluminum Foil & Baking Soda

Do you have some silver jewelry, utensils, cups or similar that have become tarnished, but don’t want to spend money to to take them in to a professional for cleaning? Then this guide for cleaning silver is just right for you.

Thanks to a trick taught to me by a man who retired from spending his life in the jewelry business, anyone can clean their silver almost effortlessly. He used this on his own rather extensive collection of silver antiques, and it really does work. If you are looking for a good Silver polish, then consider Goddards.


What you Need:

  • Baking Soda
  • Boiling Water
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Pyrex baking dish
  • Toothbrush


  1. First, line a pyrex baking dish with aluminum foil. Place the silver to be cleaned into the dish, making certain that it is contacting the aluminum. (This is very important. I will explain later, but if the silver isn’t actually touching the foil, it will not work properly.)
  2. Next, take some scalding hot water (heat it to this point if necessary), enough to cover the silver completely
  3. To this add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt, per cup of water, stirring it well to dissolve it.
  4. Pour this mixture gently over the silver in the pan.
  5. Within minutes, the tarnish will be removed, transferred to the aluminum.

(Note: Though it is time consuming, it is advisable not to put too much silver in the dish at one time. In the case of silverware, it is far better to do one piece at a time, mixing up another batch of solution if necessary and if the water cools to tepid.)


This is especially useful with jewelry, since the silver is submerged in the solution and is non-abrasive to gem stones when baking soda is in a mixture like this.

Tooth paste can achieve the same results, as can even a paste of baking soda and water, but both, in this form, are abrasive, and will eventually wear away the silver.

Baking soda paste is good for polishing gem stones, but not for rubbing into silver, which is a soft metal even when it is combined with other elements.


Silver bonds easily to several other elements, including Oxygen and Sulfur. It is Oxygen and Sulfur that causes the tarnishing and blackening of silver as it tarnishes.

Aluminum also bonds easily with these elements, and in fact, more easily than the silver does. The salt in the water acts to make the water electrolytic, that is, enabling the transfer of ions and electrons from one place to another. (Salt water is a more efficient conductor than water, which is why it can electrocute faster and more easily.)

The baking soda acts as a catalyst to transfer the oxygen and sulfur. So basically, the solution takes the oxide out of the silver oxide, and deposits it on the aluminum. This leaves the silver looking fresh and new, though it isn’t real great for the aluminum, which after all, is going to be thrown away. (Remember people, when possible, recycle!)