Your cupboards are full of ingredients to make recipes you can eat, but did you know that you can also find the ingredients for many household cleaners there, too? In fact, the recipe for clean, tarnish-free silver can be homemade, using common household ingredients and leaving out the harsh, dangerous chemicals found in commercial silver cleaners.

The Ingredients for Shinier Silver

Homemade silver polish begins with ingredients from your kitchen cupboard or bathroom medicine cabinet. Whether you are cleaning an antique sterling silver tea service or a modern sterling silver bracelet, you can use two common household items—baking soda and white toothpaste.

To make a homemade silver polish out of baking soda, simply make a paste of baking soda and water, using enough of both ingredients to make a paste that is thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it is runny.

If you'd rather use toothpaste, use basic white toothpaste—the cheaper the better—and apply right from the tube, or, for etched, stamped or detailed items, mix with enough warm water to make a slightly thinner formulation. But remember to use white toothpaste only; gel toothpastes and whitening formulas have ingredients that can discolor silver.

In addition to your baking soda or toothpaste silver cleaner, you will also need at least two soft, lint-free cloths (not paper towels, which will break down when used with even gentle abrasives like baking soda and toothpaste) and a soft, small brush, such as a used toothbrush.

Putting the Ingredients Together

Whether you choose to make a silver polish out of baking soda or white toothpaste, the cleaning method is basically the same. It's as easy as applying your homemade silver polishing paste to your silver item with a soft cloth, and buffing until the tarnish disappears.

If your silver items have etching, stamped or detailed designs, or are just small, you may want to apply your homemade polish with a small, soft brush that can get into these tiny crevices.

After cleaning, be sure to rinse your items, either under running water or by wiping with a clean cloth dampened in water. Rinsing is very important when working with detailed or etched items because your polish can stick in crevices and harden.

Also remember to use care when cleaning silver jewelry set with gemstones. Any abrasive cleaner, even those as mild as homemade polishes made with baking soda and/or toothpaste, can scratch gemstones or lodge under prongs. Avoid scrubbing gemstones or their settings with any abrasive cleaner.