If you are in despair over silver jewelry that has lost its luster, or frustrated by tableware that has tarnished, never fear - there is a home remedy that will bring back your silver's shine, without the purchase of harsh chemical polishes that are hard on your wallet and even worse for the environment.

Get Silver that Sparkles

From lightly tarnished items to deeply oxidized antiques, your cupboards contain all you need to bring the sparkle and shine back to your silver.

If your silver jewelry or teapot has only a light, coppery coat of tarnish, it may not need anything more than a quick wash with a gentle dish washing soap, followed by drying with a soft, lint-free towel. This is often enough to remove light tarnishing from many items, and, in the case of silver rings, bracelets, and other jewelry items, can be done each time the item is worn.

For silver items that have more tarnishing, or to clean several tarnished items at once, try this quick trick: Fill an aluminum pan, or a sink lined with aluminum foil, with enough hot water to cover your items, then add a couple of tablespoons of both salt and baking soda, and stir the mixture until it dissolves. Add your silver items, leaving them in the solution for no more than 1 to 2 minutes. A chemical reaction caused by the aluminum, baking soda and salt removes tarnish without scrubbing. This is a great way to clean silver sets, such as tea services and tableware quickly, but do note that silver items that have decorative antiquing that results in darker finishes in crevices and other areas may have this decorative finish removed by this method.

Two homemade silver cleaners are excellent for cleaning more heavily tarnished items - either a paste of baking soda and water, or basic white toothpaste. Either of these homemade polishes, applied with a soft, lint-free cloth or with a small, soft brush, such as an old toothbrush, will remove even the darkest tarnish from your silver items. It may take more than one cleaning, but the baking soda or toothpaste methods will clean and polish your silver without the use of harmful, foul-smelling chemicals.

When using any abrasive cleaner like toothpaste or baking soda, gentle as they are, remember to rinse your silver items thoroughly after polishing them. Dried residue from even mild abrasives can etch or scratch silver, and can also harden like paste in crevices in your silver items. When cleaning jewelry, do not use any abrasive - even baking soda or toothpaste - on gemstones or gemstone settings, as they can harm the stone.

Keeping Tarnish at Bay

To keep your silver looking its best, keep it away from substances known to cause tarnish, including latex, sulfur, and gold or copper. Store silver in air-tight containers to keep airborne sulfurous gases from resulting in tarnish. Handle your items with clean hands, or wear gloves when handling silver serving pieces.