Polishing Tarnished Silver

As I have been getting older, I seem to be having to teach myself, using Google and YouTube, how to do a lot of things. Something I had never done before is polish tarnished silver. When my mom sold our childhood home last year, I inherited many things, including a set of silver spoons that has been past down from my great grandparents. The frame they were in originally was awful looking, so much so I will not post a picture of it, and the spoons looked just as awful, so I decided to polish them and re-frame them.


I Googled the different ways that you could polish silver at home and one of the best ways seemed to be using water, aluminum foil, and baking soda. So I followed some directions using the stove, boiling water, aluminum foil, and baking soda. That process seemed to be too slow, and I had to physically make the foil touch the spoons one at a time. It was taking too long.

I then looked up another way using the same idea but boiling the water, adding salt and baking soda, then vinegar. Once all the grains were dissolved (because they can damage the silver) you add the water to an aluminum foiled lined dish. Then you add the pieces you want to the dish filled with the solution. This worked so much better and I was able to get others things done while I waited for the solution to do its thing.


So here are the directions that I used which helped the best with the spoons, a little modified to what worked best for me. I ended up doubling what I needed to make sure the solution completely submerged the spoons.

What you need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tongs
  • Baking dish or basin
  • Soft/Microfiber cloth


  1. Bring water to a boil in a pan on the stove.
  2. Add the salt and baking soda.
  3. Slowly add the vinegar to the boiling mixture.
  4. Dissolve all of the salt and baking soda, as the small bits can scratch and damage your silver.
  5. As you’re waiting for the salt and baking soda to dissolve, line the baking dish/basin with a sheet of aluminum foil (with the shiny side up).
  6. Next pour your boiling solution into the dish/basin.foil-lined-pan
  7. Drop the pieces of silver into the basin so that each piece is touching the foil.
  8. To ensure the best results, turn each piece onto every side to touch the foil.
  9. For pieces with dark/heavy tarnish, keep the piece in longer.
  10. Remove each piece one at a time a buff it with the cloth. Do NOT use a paper towel as it will scratch the silver. The tarnish will then rub off.


For pieces like mine with heavy tarnish, using this approach helped but I ended up needed to using silver polish to remove the tarnish not removed by the solution. I purchased Wright’s Silver Cream from Walmart, which came with a little sponge. I followed the instructions and the rest of the tarnish came off without any problems.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to display the spoons since the original frame they were in just made them all look very dated and old. I ended up buying a Black Panel Shadow Box by Studio Decor at Michael’s; dimensions 9″ by 20″. To ensure the spoons stayed in place I also bout 2 Prong Display Pins in silver.

My final result was almost as I expected, except I think the spoons look a bit crowded. I may end up buying a second shadow box, but I like the end result nonetheless, and the spoons look a million times better.


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