How to Remove Metal Tarnish

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Things You'll Need

  • Aluminum dish or aluminum foil

  • Baking soda

  • Soft clean cotton cloth

  • Cabbage leaves

  • Flour

  • Salt

  • Vinegar

  • Dish soap

  • Lemon

  • Lipstick

  • White toothpaste


Tarnex and Brasso work very well for removing tarnish and can be purchased at a local home improvement or grocery store.


Never wash sterling silver and stainless steel together or clean sterling silver in a stainless steel sink or container. This will cause a chemical reaction between the two which can damage the silver. Copper that isn't rinsed thoroughly will develop a blue green finish that can rub off onto clothes.

Remove Metal Tarnish

Tarnish is actually a very old word deriving from as far back as Proto Germanic and means to darken. Tarnish is when oxidation occurs on metal surfaces and causes them to lose their shine. Exposure to air over time can cause metal items to go from shiny and sleek to dull and course. A little routine care for metal objects around the home can go a long way. Tarnish is impossible to prevent, but very easy to clean.

Step 1

Place the silver items in a shallow aluminum dish or a plastic dish that is lined with aluminum foil.

Step 2

Sprinkle a ½-cup to a 1-cup of baking soda over the items.

Step 3

Pour enough boiling water over the items to completely cover them.

Step 4

Remove the items from the tray once the tarnish is gone and the water is cool.

Step 5

Buff the items with a soft cotton cloth.

Step 6

Take a cabbage and remove the outer leaves.

Step 7

Rub the pewter with the outer cabbage leaves to remove all of the tarnish.

Step 8

Buff the item with a soft cotton cloth.

Step 9

Mix 1 tbsp. of flour, 1 tbsp. of salt and 1 tbsp. of vinegar into a paste.

Step 10

Apply the paste to the tarnished area.

Step 11

Allow the paste to sit on the area for five minutes.

Step 12

Rinse the item with hot water and dish soap.

Step 13

Buff the area with a soft clean cloth.

Step 14

Rub the tarnished areas of copper and brass with a lemon that has been cut in half and dipped in salt. Wipe the tarnished area with a soft clean cloth to remove residual tarnish and restore the shine.

Step 15

Mix ¼-cup of vinegar and 1 tsp. of salt in a shallow dish. A plastic dish is preferable. Dip the items into the solution and rinse well under running water. Dry the items with a soft clean cloth. This method will work on any metal.

Step 16

Rub any lipstick onto a paper towel or cotton cloth and rub a silver item free of tarnish.

Step 17

Apply white toothpaste to a soft clean cloth and polish silver items to remove tarnish. Use a separate soft dry cloth to buff and restore the shine.

Melynda Sorrels

Melynda Sorrels spent 10 years in the military working in different capacities of the medical field, including dental assisting, health services administration, decontamination and urgent medical care. Awarded the National Guardsman’s Medal for Lifesaving efforts in 2002, Sorrels was also a nominee for a Red Cross Award and a certified EMT-B for four years.