How to Clean Sterling Silver with Baking Soda and Aluminum
Sterling silver can be cleaned with baking soda and aluminum. Mixing baking soda, boiling water, and vinegar in a aluminum-lined tray will help remove tarnish from silver. Soak your silver in boiling water for about 30 seconds before polishing it to remove any stains.
Creating the Aluminum Bath
Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Pick a baking pan big enough to hold all the silver pieces you're cleaning. Use aluminum foil to line the entire pan. Make sure to cover the full interior
Boil a cup of water. Measure out one cup of water. Place it in a pot over high heat. Keep heating the water until it comes to a boil.
While the water boils, you can mix in your other ingredients to your pan.
Mix the baking soda and vinegar into your aluminum-lined pan. Add a tablespoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of salt to your pan. Then, slowly pour in half a cup of white vinegar.
The vinegar will cause the baking soda to fizzle slightly. You do not want the baking soda to fizzle too much, which is why it's important to pour the vinegar in slowly to only cause a small reaction.
Add the boiling water to your pan. After the vinegar is added, add the boiling water. You do not need to mix the ingredients once they're added. Simply dump your water into the pan
Soaking Your Silver
Add the silver to your pan. Make sure none of the silver pieces are touching. Set them in the pan. Make sure each piece makes contact with the foil.
Soak the silver for about 30 seconds. Set a timer. Allow the pieces to sit for about 30 seconds before removing them.
After the pieces are done soaking, use tongs to remove them. You should set them down on an absorbent surface, such as a paper towel.
Rinse and buff the silver pieces. Dry the pieces using a rag or paper towels. After they are dry, take a soft cloth. Gently buff the pieces using this cloth. Keep buffing until you've removed any dirt, debris, or tarnish and the pieces are shiny.
Repeat the process if necessary. Very dirty or tarnished sterling silver may not be completely clean after the first wash. If your silver is still dull and dirty, repeat the process once more
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Do not use this method on other types of silver. Sterling silver will not be damaged by aluminum and baking soda. Other types of silver may be damaged by this method, however. Only use it for sterling silver pieces.
If you're not sure if your jewelry is sterling silver, err on the side of caution and refrain from washing it with aluminum and baking soda.
Use tongs to touch hot silver. You should never remove sterling silver with your bare hands. It will be hot after being exposed to boiling water. Use a pair of tongs to remove the silver
Leave very tarnished silver in the water longer. While 30 seconds is usually all it takes, the pieces may still look tarnished and dirty after 30 seconds. In this case, let the pieces sit a little longer, checking them regularly until much of the dirt, debris, and tarnish is coming off.