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Removing Tarnish

Martha Stewart Living, January 2001

A simple chemical reaction causes tarnish to disappear naturally. Place sterling or plated silver in an aluminum pan -- it must be aluminum. Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda over the silverware. Keeping the pan in the sink to minimize splashing, pour enough boiling water to cover the utensils. When the tarnish disappears, remove the silverware, and buff with a soft cotton cloth.


Comments (32)

  • Pinotcrazy 11 Apr, 2015

    I am a little confused by Martha's comment section where she says to clean Sliver plated flatware with baking soda, aluminum pan and hot water. Some guy that calls himself silversmith on the comment section, says this will ruin the silverware. That it will actually etch it. Who is correct?

  • Ihop 27 Nov, 2014

    Hahahaha! Night before Thanksgiving, 10pm --Awesome! Thank you :)

  • lauratalksfood 12 Jul, 2013

    Thanks for the great natural tip. I put mine in the dishwasher is that ok?

  • scoburn52 20 Apr, 2013

    silverplate use or not to use? to trash or not? I have some sitting a drawer that I never use...if I use it..what is the best way to clean it for everyday use and to keep it clean looking?

  • The Silversmith 26 Dec, 2014

    Please refer to my Silver Care page at I'm a professional silver restoration, conservation, and preservationist.

  • The Silversmith 20 Apr, 2013

    Regarding the issue of tarnish, you'll find the most thoroughly researched and practiced silver care information on my Silver Care page here: I'm a professional silver restoration, conservation, and preservationist.

  • The Silversmith 20 Apr, 2013

    Hello jarender,

    This material is an aluminum alloy. Can you take a picture and post it so I can see the surface of the pieces in question? It's probably not tarnish, but another form of corrosion.

  • jarender 25 Mar, 2013

    Everyone so far has been talking about polishing tarnished silver. I have another problem: it is with tarnished Magnalite Cookware. I have read numerous recipes for removing the tarnish, from cream of tartar to vinegar, to baking soda. All are very different in their proportions and directions. My family was not aware of the "do not place in the dishwasher" warning........Well, you know.... So, has anyone ever had any successes with any products? If so, would you please share?

  • The Silversmith 1 Feb, 2013

    Using Toothpaste as a Silver Polish – Under NO circumstances should you use toothpaste, as most contain baking soda that will scratch your silver.

  • The Silversmith 1 Feb, 2013

    Corrosion on Silver – This is usually caused by salt, and silver polish will not remove it. My silver care page will instruct you in removing that corrosion. Go to Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation at

  • The Silversmith 1 Feb, 2013

    If you're looking for the most thoroughly researched and practiced advice on silver care, visit the Web site of silver restoration, conservation, and preservationist Jeffrey Herman at Please don't use most of the techniques on this Web site because they'll ruin your silver.

  • The Silversmith 1 Feb, 2013

    Beware! What appears a simple solution will actually damage your silver. That chemical reaction will actually allow tarnish to develop more quickly since it opens the pores of the metal.

  • nancaroo 14 Apr, 2011

    I use a "throw away" aluminum pan, such as you might use when making a turkey. After you sprinkle Baking soda and pour boiling water over the silverware, you may
    need to sprinkle some more Baking soda on some spots that are not clean. Do that before it cools down or pour more boiling water over the silver. Once it is appears clean you can the turn on the cold water to cool it down. Perfect results on my silverware in no
    time. Then wipe off each piece. :O)

  • Baybuyer 12 Apr, 2011

    Wish I'd read reader's comments first and used worked great, silver is beautiful...BUT, I NOW HAVE A DARK LINE AROUND THE INSIDE OF MY BEAUTIFUL VINTAGE CAKE PAN...I wish Martha had warned us about that!

  • PatDC 7 Apr, 2011

    Will this work for gold. I have a ceramic piece that is tarnished and I don't know what to use to brighter it up. grammypd

  • 8lasagna4u 7 Apr, 2011

    the silver should touch each other.

  • 8lasagna4u 7 Apr, 2011

    to JosieMarieSmith answer yes or if you have a lot of silver you can just put tinfoil in the sink with the same results in either case the foil should have the non-shiny side facing the silverware

  • tweety1213 7 Apr, 2011

    For the person that wanted to clean brass. Use catsup. worked on my antique brass piano legs where my very old dog had taken a liking to. If the piece is small, put it in a container and cover with the catsup, otherwise make a paste and leave on about an hour. Polish with soft cloth

  • JosieMarieSmith 7 Apr, 2011

    What if you lined a non aluminum pan with aluminum foil? Would that work as well?

  • KristineJune 7 Apr, 2011

    I have a question about removing tarnish from brass. I have a solid brass antique pot with green spots on it. I get minimal results when I use commercial products. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  • alexismh 6 Apr, 2011

    I have used Arm

  • lesnkaker 6 Apr, 2011

    I line the sink with aluminum foil, add hot water an ammonia, and the tarnish disappears. Because it's so fast and easy I tend to use my silver fairly often when entertaining, while many of my friends don't use theirs because they don't have time to polish the old way.

  • hutchacoo 6 Apr, 2011

    CAUTION! I used this method on a silver-plate sugar bowl and lid. The chemical reaction caused the handles to fall off. I had to have a jeweler reattach them. Not cheap. I would only use this on "Solid" items such as flat-wear.

  • brjulie 6 Apr, 2011

    I have always added salt to the baking soda, is this superfluous? Does the baking soda and hot water and foil work just as well without the salt?

  • deirdreflanagan6 6 Apr, 2011

    Good Morning:
    I use the baking soda method in a glass Pyrex cassarole dish, you just need to put aluminum foil on the bottom before your add the silver, water and baking soda. The sheen is not nearly as sparkly as the more time consuming silver polish but it's great as a timesaver.

  • Wasnd 24 Mar, 2011

    While this does remove the darkened "enhancements" they will return. The toothpaste does function as a silver polish, but this tidea is meant to save the time and mess of polishing each individual piece. I do like this method.

  • ADOM 29 Apr, 2010

    This method will remove darkened areas that are meant to enhance the patterns. I do not use it for this reason.

  • MargRobertson 29 Apr, 2010

    For larger pieces of silver like bowls or baskets, use a plastic bucket and lay aluminum foil in the bottom. Use enough water to immerse the piece and be sure it is touching the foil. Presto same as for cutlery... no scub, tarnish is gone!

  • schoodlepie 11 Apr, 2010

    here's another tarnish solution -- rub toothpaste on our silver! Really, it works perfectly. Use a soft toothbrush to get into engraved or hard to reach areas.

  • joeygirl76 12 Mar, 2010

    thank you for this tip..

  • marion3534 22 Mar, 2015


  • LindenBlossom 11 Mar, 2010

    If you don't have an aluminum pan available, get the same effect by layering aluminum foil in the base of a regular pan or basin