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Cleaning Sterling Silver with Citric Acid

Maybe it's the good flatware you save for special dinners or the gorgeous bracelet you inherited from your great-grandmother – whatever you want shining bright, you might be wondering: How do I clean it? 

Well, good news, we know just what to use! Why use a concoction of cleaning supplies when you can use a naturally derived acid that not will not only bring back that shine but also sanitize? Yes, you guessed it, I'm talking about citric acid. 

Before you get to polishing, there are a few silver cleaning tips to keep in mind: 

  • Don't put silver flatware and other silver items in the dishwasher, as it usually makes it tarnish worse.
  • Avoid abrasive materials, like bristle brushes and scouring pads.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners, like bleach or chlorine.
  • DIY cleaning methods can involve using bowls, so steer clear from using stainless steel bowls when cleaning silver as it can cause a chemical reaction.
  • Make sure to have one or two microfiber cloths or 100% cotton flannel on hand when cleaning silver. 

Now, let's get to polishing! 

For silver, citric acid is highly effective at removing oxidation. Note: Don't use these methods if you have opaque gemstones.

You'll need:

  • 1/2 tsp of citric acid 
  • 1 cup of instant dry milk
  • 3 cups of water
  • One large bowl
  • Soft cleaning cloth (microfiber or 100% cotton flannel)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and soak your silver overnight. The next day, rinse with cold water and wipe dry with a soft microfiber or cotton flannel cloth. Just double the recipe if you have larger silver pieces. 

Don't have dry milk laying around, but have olive oil? Try this:

  • 2 tablespoons of citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 large glass bowl or surface
  • 2 soft cleaning cloths (microfiber or 100% cotton flannel)

Mix ingredients and saturate one of the cleaning cloths with the mixture. Wring it out, and start buffing the silver. When done, rinse with cold water, and then dry with the other soft cleaning cloth.

Your silver's been restored, and now it's time to store it the right way. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep silver in an environment where humidity levels are about 50% or away from areas that are likely to be exposed to damp conditions.
  • Prevent exposure to the elements by storing silver in soft, sealed bags. 
  • Dust your silver using a soft cloth every so often—it will help keep the tarnish away. And whenever you start to see it slightly tarnish, give it a light cleaning using some dish soap

Remember, routine care and preventative measures go a long way!

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