AN EASY STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO CLEANING YOUR STERLING SILVER AND SOLID GOLD JEWELRY WITH EVERYDAY HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Tarnish, ugh. The culprit behind dull grey jewelry and many frowny faces, but did you know it's just a simple reaction between silver and sulfur in the air?
Silver + Sulfur → Silver Sulfide
When you put tarnished jewelry into an aluminum foil bowl and add baking soda + boiling water you trigger a reaction between the silver sulfide and aluminum.
Silver Sulfide + Aluminum → Silver + Aluminum Sulfide
The pesky sulfur is transferred to the aluminum and you're left with sparkly clean silver. Yay, science!
The best way to prevent the formation of silver sulfide on the surface of your sterling jewelry is to store it in an air tight container when you're not wearing it. By limiting exposure to the air, you're preventing the reaction with sulfur.
Once the damage has been done though, the aluminum foil + baking soda + boiling water method outlined below is a wonderfully simple solution. It also works great on solid gold jewelry. Gold doesn't tarnish like silver, but daily wear does dull its luster. Use this cleaning method to make your gold jewelry look brand new again!
This is best done with jewelry that does not have stones. It is a very very BAD idea to submerge gemstones in cleaning solutions that aren't specifically made for them. It can cause serious damage and discoloration. From my personal experience, diamonds are able to withstand this cleaning method, BUT that's because diamonds are literally the hardest material on the planet.
Clean silver and gold separately. Oh, and don't put a metal spoon or any kind of metal utensil into the baking soda bath! The reaction already involves metals so, like, don't add another metal and eff things up. 🙃
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WHAT YOU'LL NEED
✓ Aluminum Foil
✓ Baking Soda (not baking powder)
✓ Boiling Water
✓ Non-Metal Utensil ex. popsicle stick
✓ Tarnished Jewelry
🌟 It's important that the jewelry is touching the aluminum foil so don't stack a bunch of pieces on top of one another.
🌟 This cleaning solution is non-toxic and is OK to dump down the drain when you're done. It's also totally fine to rinse and save the used aluminum foil for your next cleaning session.
🌟 If you don't get the results you want the first time around, go ahead and do the whole routine again. It won't ruin the metal.
1. Gather everything you need and line a bowl with aluminum foil.
2. Place your jewelry in the bowl, making sure every piece is touching the aluminum foil.
3. Sprinkle baking soda directly on the jewelry.
4. Add enough boiling water to cover the jewelry completely. Let the reaction bubble for a minute or two. Then flip the jewelry with a non-metal utensil so the other side touches the aluminum foil. Wait another 1-2 minutes. If the tarnish is being stubborn feel free to move the jewelry around or flip it a few more times.
5. Remove your jewelry from the bowl with a non-metal utensil. Rinse jewelry to remove lingering baking soda and pat dry with a towel. If you're not happy with the result it's totally fine to run through the process again.
6. Enjoy your clean jewelry or store it somewhere safe from sulfur exposure!