Guest Guru, Cristin Bisbee Priest of Simplified Bee

An Inexpensive, Nontoxic and DIY Way to Polish Silver

With the holiday dinner parties fast approaching, festive table settings are on our minds. Tarnished silverware can ruin a perfectly set table, so polishing the silver is one task that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Because commercial silver polish contains toxins, I searched for non-toxic and inexpensive alternatives to cleaning silver flatware. The Daily Green had a silver cleaning recipe that looked promising, but did it really work? I decided to test it out myself.

Here is a sampling of some of my tarnished silver before it was cleaned.

silver before

What you will need – aluminum foil, boiling water, baking soda and salt. Line your sink or a bucket with aluminum foil, and drop in tarnished silver. Pour in boiling water, a cup of baking soda and a dash of salt.


Let sit for a few minutes. The tarnish will transfer from the silver to the foil.


If you can’t immerse your items, rub tarnished silver with toothpaste and a soft cloth. Follow by rinsing items with warm water and let dry. As an alternative to toothpaste, rub a mixture of three parts baking soda to 1 part water. I should have tried one of these methods with my silver bowl which did not get fully immersed.

It might be hard to tell with the lighting, but the results were great – much better than I expected!

silver after

Here is a image of one of my spoons tarnished and the other just cleaned – in case you were wondering, the sterling silver flatware pattern is Repousse. As I said, I was very pleased with the results. Best yet, it’s eco-friendly, non-toxic and inexpensive!

silver spoons

Please note that Martha Stewart also had this DIY silver polish method on her site and warned that “with this technique the good tarnish (a desirable patina and the dark crevices in a pattern) may be removed as well, and pitting may result. Experts recommend using a good-quality commercial polish, and there are some less-toxic ones available. For silver, the best way to prevent tarnish is to use the pieces frequently and store them properly when not in use. For flatware and hollowware, wash and dry the pieces by hand after each use. Also, dust display items regularly, and store them in flannel that has been treated to slow tarnishing”.

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