Does Silver Rust? A Guide to Tarnish Prevention, and Restoration

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Hey there dear reader! Today We’ll answer a very important question: “Does silver Rust?” and explore the nitty-gritty of what causes tarnish, how to prevent it, and even how to restore your your silver to its former glory.

Let’s get started!

Does Real Silver Rust or Tarnish?

Tarnished silverware
This is an example of tarnished silverware. Source: Wirecutter

First things first, let’s clear up a common misconception – silver doesn’t actually rust.

Rust is the reddish-brown flaky stuff you see on metals like iron or steel when they react with oxygen and moisture.

Silver, on the other hand, experiences something called tarnish. Tarnish is a dull, discolored layer that forms on the surface of silver when it reacts with elements in the air, like sulfur compounds.

So, no, your silver isn’t rusting away – it’s just developing a bit of a tarnished personality.

What Causes Silver Tarnish?

Tarnish is like that uninvited guest that shows up when you least expect it. It’s caused by a chemical reaction between the silver and the environment.

When silver comes into contact with sulfur-containing compounds, whether it’s in the air, water, or even on your skin, it forms silver sulfide – the culprit behind that tarnished appearance.

Moisture, humidity, and pollutants can speed up this tarnishing process, turning your radiant silver into a not-so-glamorous shade of dullness.

Another thing that can cause silver tarnishing is acidity; About 1 in 10 people have high acidity levels in their body which can cause silver jewelry to tarnish in as little as a day of wearing it.

Don’t worry though! If you see little black spots in your silver jewelry it doesn’t mean that it’s ruined or that it’s not real silver, this tarnish is normal and you can easily remove it with one of the methods we will go over below:

Easy Home Remedies for Silver Tarnish Removal

So, you’ve noticed that your cherished silver pieces are losing their sparkle? No worries, because we’ve got some wallet-friendly and easy-peasy home remedies to help you bid farewell to that pesky tarnish.

We attached a video above that shows our favorite home remedy for silver tarnish. For this method we use some baking soda and hot water which is absolutely fantastic for tarnish removal – and being cheap!

There are all in all 3 simple and effective methods we are showing you here, all with written instructions, just follow each step with the method you choose and your silver will be as good as new!

We’ve also attached some written instructions below in case you need more guidance!

1. Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil Magic:

This dynamic duo – baking soda and aluminum foil – can work wonders in removing tarnish from your silver. Let’s see how they team up for a tarnish-busting extravaganza:

What You’ll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot water
  • Soft, clean cloth


  1. Line a container or a sink with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
  2. Fill the container or sink with enough hot water to fully submerge your tarnished silver items.
  3. Add a tablespoon of baking soda for every quart of hot water used. Stir gently to dissolve the baking soda.
  4. Place your silver items onto the aluminum foil, ensuring they touch the foil.
  5. Let your silver items soak for a few minutes, making sure they are in contact with both the baking soda solution and the aluminum foil.
  6. Gently scrub the tarnish away using a soft toothbrush.
  7. Rinse the silver items thoroughly under cool running water and pat them dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Ta-da! Your silver should now be gleaming and ready to make a statement.

2. Toothpaste Trick:

You might be used to toothpaste doing wonders for your teeth, but did you know it can also work its magic on your silver? Here’s how to do it:

What You’ll Need:

  • Non-gel toothpaste
  • Soft, clean cloth
  • Bowl of warm water


  1. Squeeze a small amount of non-gel toothpaste onto a soft cloth. A pea-sized amount is usually sufficient.
  2. Gently rub the toothpaste onto the tarnished areas of your silver, using circular motions. Don’t go overboard – a little goes a long way.
  3. Rinse the silver thoroughly under cool running water to remove any remaining toothpaste.
  4. Pat the silver dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Your silver should now be gleaming and ready to shine once more!

3. Vinegar Magic:

Vinegar isn’t just for salad dressings – it can also work wonders on tarnished silver. Let’s see how you can make the most of this kitchen staple:

What You’ll Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Soft, clean cloth


  1. Create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and warm water. You’ll want enough to fully submerge your tarnished silver items.
  2. Place your silver items into the vinegar solution, ensuring they are fully covered. Let them soak for about two to three hours.
  3. Remove the silver items from the solution and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water.
  4. Pat them dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Voila! Your silver should be looking refreshed and tarnish-free.

How Can I Prevent Silver from Tarnishing?

You’re probably thinking, “Okay, but how do I keep my silver from tarnishing in the first place?” Fear not, we’ve got you covered with some expert tips:

  • Storage Smarts: Store your silver items in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Consider using airtight containers or anti-tarnish pouches to minimize exposure to air and moisture.
  • Avoid Chemicals: Keep your silver away from harsh chemicals, like bleach or ammonia, as they can accelerate tarnishing. Don’t wear your silver jewelry while swimming or doing household chores.
  • Wear it Right: If you’re a fan of silver jewelry, make it the last thing you put on before heading out. This helps reduce contact with lotions, perfumes, and sweat that can contribute to tarnishing.
  • Polish Patrol: Regularly clean and polish your silver items using a soft cloth. This removes dirt and oils that can lead to tarnish.

Is Tarnish Harmful to Silver?

This is how silver looks after some getting some tarnish; before and after tarnish

Tarnish isn’t exactly silver’s best friend. It can affect both the appearance and the structural integrity of your silver items in the long run.

Tarnish makes your silver lose its shine and charm, and if left unchecked, it can lead to pitting and corrosion.

So, while tarnish itself might not be the ultimate villain, it does pave the way for potential damage to your beloved silver pieces.

Can Tarnished Silver Be Restored to Its Original State?

The good news is that tarnished silver can absolutely be brought back to its former glory. Here are some methods to consider:

  • Professional Cleaning: If your silver pieces are particularly precious or valuable, it’s wise to entrust them to professionals. They have the expertise and tools to safely clean and restore tarnished silver.
  • Home Remedies: There are DIY options, too! One popular method involves using baking soda and aluminum foil to create a tarnish-busting solution. You can also try gentle polishing with silver-specific cleaning products.

Best Ways to Remove Tarnish from Silver

Sometimes, all your silver needs is a little TLC. Here’s a step-by-step guide to removing tarnish at home:

  1. Gentle Cleanse: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with hot water in a bowl, making sure the baking soda dissolves.
  2. Shiny Soak: Line a container with aluminum foil and place your tarnished silver inside. Pour the baking soda solution over the items, ensuring they’re fully submerged. Let them soak for a few minutes.
  3. Scrub and Rinse: Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the tarnish away. Rinse the items thoroughly under cool running water.
  4. Dry and Polish: Pat your silver items dry with a soft cloth, then give them a gentle polish using a silver-specific cleaner.

We already went over this method above but it’s just a good reminder to emphasize just how important taking care of your silver is.

This is our prefered method because it does a marvelous job of taking care of that pesky silver tarnish while also being the cheapest method available!

See, taking care of your silver is really not expensive at all, and it is definitely worthwhile if you want to keep your silver shining!

But like they say, the best of cures is prevention, so we’ll go over how to prevent silver tarnish below..

Silver Cleaning Methods for Preventing Tarnish

cleaning silver with towel
Give your silverware and jewelry some cleaning from time to time to prevent tarnish!

Prevention is key! Incorporate these easy silver-cleaning practices into your routine:

  • Regular Wiping: Dust and dirt can contribute to tarnish. Wipe your silver items with a soft, lint-free cloth after each use to keep them looking their best.
  • Mild Soap Wash: Every now and then, give your silver a gentle wash with mild dish soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly before storing.
  • Anti-Tarnish Strips: Place anti-tarnish strips in your jewelry box or storage container. These little wonders absorb tarnish-causing gases and help keep your silver sparkly.

In a Nutshell:

These easy home remedies offer a simple and cost-effective way to remove tarnish from your cherished silver items.

Whether you opt for the toothpaste trick, the vinegar magic, or the baking soda and aluminum foil duo, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your tarnished silver can be transformed into a shining spectacle.

So, go ahead and give these methods a try, and watch as your silver regains its stunning allure. Happy tarnish removal, and keep on shining bright!

Bottom Line

There you have it, silver enthusiasts! Tarnish might be a bit of a party crasher, but with the right knowledge and care, you can keep your silver looking stunning for years to come.

Remember, prevention is your silver’s BFF, and restoration is totally doable if tarnish does make an appearance.

So go ahead, flaunt your silver with confidence, knowing that you’ve got the tricks up your sleeve to keep it shining bright. Happy sparkling, everyone!

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