How to Clean Silver With Vinegar

Though you shouldn't use it every time you clean your silver, vinegar is an effective tarnish remover. When used too often, the acid in vinegar can create imperfections in the silver. Nothing beats vinegar, however, for restoring shine and luster to silver pieces that have been neglected and are overdue for a polish. Once you've removed the tarnish from your pieces, be sure to store them in such a manner that helps prevent future tarnish, so they won't need repeated vinegar treatments.

Soak It

Without Foil

If your silver looks dull and tarnished, Reader's Digest recommends mixing white vinegar and baking soda in a bowl. Set your silver in the mixture and leave it to soak for about three hours. Rinse the silver in cold water and then dry it thoroughly with a cotton cloth.

With Foil

The Mother Nature Network uses a different recipe to polish silver. Line a heat-proof bowl or pot with aluminum foil, making sure the shiny side faces up. Combine water and vinegar at a ratio of 1 cup of vinegar to 1 quart of water, until you have enough liquid to completely cover the silver. Bring the vinegar-and-water mixture to a boil on the stove and then drop your silver into it. Allow it to boil for 5 minutes and then turn off the stove. Carefully remove the hot silver with tongs and rinse it in hot water. Dry with a soft cotton cloth.

Paste It

The professional cleaning staff at Mrs Clean recommend polishing tarnished silver with a thick paste. This method is excellent for cups, bowls and other silver pieces that do not have a lot of nooks and crannies. Mix together vinegar, salt and flour to make the paste; then spread it on your silver. Allow the paste to sit for about 20 minutes before removing it with a soft cloth soaked in warm water. Use a second cotton cloth to dry and polish the silver.

Prevent It

Avoid Potential Tarnish

Store your silver in a cool, dry place with low humidity. You may need to use a dehumidifier if you're storing silver in a basement or other potentially damp area. If you plan to store your silver in a wooden box or on wooden shelves, make sure the wood has been sealed with a lacquer or polyurethane finish; otherwise, the silver will tarnish. It is also important to store silver and stainless steel separately, since stainless steel can damage silver.

Use Storage Bags

Special bags and cloths are available at jewelry stores, antique dealers and online that are made specifically for storing silver; the materials from which they're made help reduce tarnish buildup. When you use them, make sure the entire piece is covered -- any silver that sticks out of the bag or extends out of the cloth could tarnish.

Purchase Tarnish Strips

Manufactured by 3M, anti-tarnish strips are small pieces of paper designed for storage with silver. Whether you wrap them in with your silver or set them in a display case next to it, these strips help stop your silver from tarnishing, Provide one strip for every cubic foot of air space and change the strips every 6 months for best results.

Polish Regularly

When silver is properly stored, it tales only a few minutes to polish it with a soft cotton cloth. Give your silver a quick buff now and again to keep it shiny and tarnish-free. Wear cotton gloves when you do so to avoid fingerprints.