How to Keep Sterling Silver Jewelry From Tarnishing

01
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Why does sterling silver tarnish?

Silver Jewelry
Photo: Getty/Jasmin Awad / EyeEm.

Sterling silver is a lovely and versatile metal for jewelry, making it very popular.  However, between neglect and just the nature of sterling silver, it's easy for it to lose its luster and tarnish  You may be wondering how this happens.  Tarnishing simply happens through exposure to oxygen and oxidative reactions that occur with sulfur making it all too easy for it to happen.  High humidity levels, air pollution and contact with chemicals found in deodorant, hairspray, lotions, perfume and bleach can also cause tarnishing. 

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How to store your sterling silver jewelry

Ziploc Bag
Photo: Ziploc.com.

Ziploc bags can be an easy way to keep your sterling silver from tarnishing, as long as you lock out the air.  You can do this by placing the jewelry in a Ziploc bag, closing it halfway and squeezing all the air out before sealing.   Just make sure the bags you use don't contain abrasive materials, like Mylar or polyethylene. 

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A better alternative to plastic bags

anti-tarnish bag
Photo:Amazon.com.

While using plastic bags to store your sterling silver jewelry is inexpensive, it's not exactly practical.  If you have several pieces of silver jewelry, each piece needs to be stored in its own bag which will only clutter up your jewelry box with Baggies.  You're better off using specialized jewelry storage bags which can be purchased online or at your local jewelry store. 

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Store your sterling silver away from sunlight

Sunlight
Photo: Getty/Caiaimage/Martin Barraud.

Once you have encased your sterling silver jewelry, be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight, in a cool dry area and away from other jewelry pieces that can cause scratches and damage. 

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Keep your sterling silver away from wood

Wood
Photo: Getty/Mrunal Shah / EyeEm.

Your sterling silver should not be kept on any chemically treated surfaces, particularly surfaces made of wood if it has been stained or treated which speed up the tarnishing process. 

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Store your sterling silver with chalk

Chalk
Photo: Getty/Image Source.

Chalk has been known to naturally absorb moisture and chemical residue.  Try placing a piece of chalk in your jewelry box or stored inside your jewelry storage bags.  

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Use anti-tarnish strips

Anti-tarnish strips
Photo: Amazon.com.

Anti-tarnish strips absorb agents in the air that will tarnish sterling silver and are made of non-toxic materials. 

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Use silica packs

Silica Pack
Photo: Amazon.com.

Silica packs are often found inside new shoes, shoe boxes and, sometimes, in clothing.  They are used to keep these products moisture free.  The next time you find one, keep it and store with your silver to keep it from tarnishing.  You can also purchase silica packs.

09
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Use anti-tarnish cloths

Anti-tarnish cloths
Photo: Amazon.com.

Anti-tarnish cloths are likely the most popular way most people keep their jewelry from tarnishing.  They work by absorbing sulfur and oxygen in the air and are usually treated to prevent tarnishing.  Use them regularly and give your silver jewelry a swipe using these cloths after wearing your jewelry and before storing it away. 

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Never leave silver jewelry lying around

Silver jewelry
Photo: Getty/Isuru Sankalana / EyeEm.

It is important to store your silver jewelry away immediately after wearing.  Never shower wearing sterling silver as the humidity will only cause quicker oxidation.  Also, don't swim or use a hot tub wearing sterling silver.  Between the moisture, humidity and chlorine, your jewelry doesn't stand a chance. 

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How to clean sterling silver after it has been tarnished

Silver jewelry
Photo: Getty/Photo by Stephan Geyer.

If your sterling silver is already tarnished, try clean it immediately to avoid future tarnishing.  Use a polishing cloth made especially for silver.  If the tarnish is beyond repair using a cloth, try a silver wash.  If this doesn't work, you can visit a jewelry who has special equipment to rid silver of tarnish. 

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Do not clean sterling silver with baking soda or toothpaste

Toothpaste
Photo: Getty/Charlie Abad.

While some people may recommend baking soda or toothpaste to rid sterling silver from tarnish, it's not advised.  Both are too abrasive You can use this method to clean other jewelry, but not silver.  Looking for home remedies to clean your favorite jewelry pieces?  Check out this list.