A Guide on Using Store-Bought Silver Cleaners
All silver, even high quality sterling silver, will become tarnished from time to time. When certain chemicals in the air touch the silver, it oxidizes and forms weird-looking grey or black splotches.
Tarnishing isn’t a big deal for high quality silver, except where aesthetics are concerned. Fortunately, there are a number of homemade and commercial products to clean tarnish from silver. There are even products that help non-tarnished silver shine more brilliantly. Since we talked last time about home cleaning and polishing agents, today we’re going to talk about the commercial products.
The vast number of silver-cleaning products out there can be overwhelming, but finding the best cleaner or polish for your needs less tricky than it seems. The first step in figuring out which silver cleaner is best for you is to determine which kind of silver you have. If you purchased your silver from a reputable jeweler, it is likely sterling silver, which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals to make it stronger. Silverware and coins may have a lower percentage of silver. Some items, especially larger ones or cheap jewelry, may be silver-plated. Silver-plated items require the most caution when purchasing silver cleaner.
The strength and abrasiveness of the cleaner you select will depend on the type of silver you have and the amount of tarnish (if any) on it. For routine polishing jobs on untarnished silver, choose a gentler product. Extensive tarnishing may require a harsher cleaner. Although some experts say you should never use an abrasive cleaner, most agree that they’re okay as long as used sparingly. Using an abrasive cleaner on a silver-plated piece may cause the plating to chip or fall away from the base, so you should always choose the gentlest option. Sterling silver will corrode far less quickly, but you should still limit how often you use abrasive products on it. Save the harsh stuff for serious tarnishing.
Cost is an important factor for many people. Although most silver polishes are relatively inexpensive (under $10), you may decide to narrow down your options based on price. Silver polishing wipes are very convenient, but they tend to cost more. Even if cost isn’t a factor for you, keep in mind that more expensive products are not necessarily better. Some of the most highly rated silver cleaners are under $5!
Always read the directions before using any cleaner on your silver. If your jewelry contains pearls, jade, or other natural materials besides precious gems, ensure that the product you buy will not damage them. Some products will have ammonia or other highly corrosive materials, which can ruin some pieces of jewelry. Be very careful not to get silver cleaner on your skin, in your eyes, or in your mouth, since most of them are poisonous or can eat through your skin. If you’re uncertain about the best product or way to clean your jewelry, you can always take it to a professional or try a safe home solution. Better safe than sorry! Enjoy our sterling silver jewelry store.