Daily Wire Tip: Cleaning with Baking Soda

By on December 7, 2009
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

Dale, I think you mentioned the baking soda cleaning method as a gentle cleaning some time ago. Is this the method where you line a bowl with foil, add about a cup of warm water, 1 TBSP. Baking Soda and a little salt?

Answer:

Yes. Personally I have never added salt to the mixture, because baking soda already contains sodium, but this is the procedure I have used with success on simple silver pieces or a coil of wire: line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil; place your sterling silver wire coil or jewelry pieces on the foil and cover it with a thin sprinkling of baking soda; add boiling hot water to cover the wire or jewelry; use a wooden chopstick or other non-metal utensil to gently stir the items around a bit so they all have contact with the aluminum foil at one time or another. When satisfied, remove the items and rinse thoroughly under tepid running water, and pat items dry.

For more stubborn tarnish you can also assist the cleaning process by using a soft toothbrush during the rinse process.

Please be aware of not using this method to clean pieces that contain pearls, soft stones that have not been polished professionally like turquoise, and never add ivory, opals, or any precious stone that may have enhancements or treatments such as wax or oils that are often used on sapphires, rubies, and emeralds!

On those pieces, I just use an ionic cleaner such as the Speed Brite, which can be used safely on everything except ivory.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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25 Comments

  1. avatar

    Kerry

    December 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Why not just use an aluminum pan?

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      December 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

      Kerry, the reason for using aluminum foil is to transfer the tarnish from the silver to the foil. Although I have never tried using just an aluminum pan, my thought is that the pan would become coated with the tarnish and no longer be usable for anything, including another tarnish removal session.
      Dale/Cgr

  2. avatar

    Erika

    August 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Can this be used on platinum engagement ring?

    • avatar

      Rose

      August 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Congratulations, Erika!

      I’m not familiar with keeping platinum clean. I would first check with the jeweler that sold the ring. From a quick search online, it looks like you would want to try a diluted ammonia solution – perhaps the tarnish is more serious on platinum. If you’ve noticed tarnish, I would recommend using a polishing cloth on your ring about once a month so you don’t have to do more serious cleaning!

    • avatar

      Grace

      March 19, 2013 at 8:34 am

      Hi Erika! Definitely use a polishing cloth instead of water and baking soda on a ring that you wear every day. The ammonia will keep the stone bright and clean, and the cloth will attend to any problems with the metal, but platinum should stay white and bright for months, if not years with very little care. Your diamond is likely to be the thing that shows dirt the fastest.

      Remember too that you need to take the ring to your jeweler at least once every year to have it professionally cleaned and to have the settings checked to ensure that the stones never pop out. You don’t to be me and see that stone missing from the setting one afternoon because I do not follow my own advice! Congrats!

    • avatar

      Diane

      December 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

      I have a very trusted small town jeweler where I got my engagement ring as well as a couple of beauties including one platinum with very high quality sapphire) with insurance money after my house was broken into and all my jewelry that I wasn’t wearing was stolen. He is located only 15 minutes away, and I do bring my item in for regular, free cleanings, but he always tells me that the best thing to do do with the pieces I wear every day is a soft toothbrush and plain white toothpaste. Since the toothpaste I use on my teeth is gel and you don’t want a “whitening” toothpaste, I get pain white toothpaste at the dollar store! While this will not take care of tarnish on silver and the like for items that have been stored, I have a silver artisan ring which I wear every day and it tends to get “dirty” and the toothpaste cleans it up just as it does my every day diamonds. Just like any cleaning option, be careful with pearls and the like.

  3. avatar

    Chris Adam

    August 28, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Will it work for brass?

  4. avatar

    kirsten

    August 28, 2012 at 6:31 am

    IF you happen to have *washing soda* (i always do because i do fiber dying) it works faster and better than baking soda!
    same rules apply otherwise.

  5. avatar

    charlotte

    August 28, 2012 at 6:43 am

    yea i have had great luck using ,,,of all things the fizzy tablets you use on dentures,,just put pieces in drop in a tablet wait a bit,,rinse and dry and voilla!!!

  6. avatar

    spiderwoman

    August 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

    aluminum foil, baking powder & very hot (or boiling) water is my method of last resort for tarnish. I had silver earrings that had come in contact with salt and nothing else worked.
    it will remove any darkening, even that which is desirable, so try other methods first.

  7. avatar

    pat gebes

    August 28, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Dale, what would one use for gold filled chain? I found a 5 foot length of nice chain but it’s got a coating on it. How do I clean it? Too valuable not to use. Thanks

  8. avatar

    Joan Walker

    August 28, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Can you use Speed Brite cleaner without using the machine. If so can you order just the cleaner. I don’t see it listed.

    I would like to have purchased the machine but when I went to buy it WS was out of it every time I checked. I ended up going to their Tools Supply and getting the Shine Brite. You can’t use it on fresh water pearl.

  9. avatar

    Linda

    August 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I am a starving artist, ha ha. But seriously, I need a way to buy a speed bright or similar product that does the same thing in a less expensive way. Shine bright was mentioned in one of the tips, but it says it won’t clean pearls, and I make a lot of pearl necklaces! I have to have it clean them. I like the shine bright because it does everything but is there something that isn’t mentioned that it won’t be safe to clean?
    Bone,or antler?

  10. avatar

    Renee

    August 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Many years ago an elderly jeweler told me he used the same method you described but after rinsing the silver wire he placed in in a pyrex dish and poured alcohol over it. Stirred it around and removed it. Patted it dry and let it lay out for a few minutes. The alcohol evaporates and there is no moisture left on the wire. He had found that just patting it dry after rinsing left enough moisture to cause it to tarnish again.

    I’ve used this method over the years and found it works well.

  11. avatar

    Kat

    August 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Can you use an ionic cleaner on jewelry with Opals in it?

  12. avatar

    Mary Hallengren

    August 31, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I use 1 tablespoon of Calgon bath beads or a generic brand and 1 tbl spoon of salt on aluminum foil with hot water not boiling. I do this in my sink for small items and in the bath tub for large item such as trays etc. I have also used an aluminum tray or pie plate. Rinse and buff.
    Mary

  13. avatar

    Carol Praissman

    October 2, 2012 at 5:55 am

    After cleaning silver, I pat it dry & then use a hair dryer. Works quickly & when cool I put it in a ziplock bag!

  14. avatar

    Marion

    November 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Can this method be used on a “liquid silver” necklace? I have a 10 strand necklace that is hard to clean with a polishing cloth.

    • avatar

      Grace

      March 19, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Absolutely! I have a liquid silver necklace that I have cleaned this same way for years, although I do use aluminum trays rather than foil. Just remember to use a generous helping of baking soda with the boiling water and I do add salt. If your piece is very tarnished, you might have to repeat the procedure more than once. Rinse thoroughly, pat dry, and I will use the hair dryer to thoroughly dry my piece because water causes rust. Then package your piece in a silver bag or a ziplock bag with a tarnish strip and one of those desecant bags from food that you’ve refreshed in the oven and your piece should stay as good looking as you are for a long time!! Good luck.

  15. avatar

    Trish Christiansen

    January 12, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    For years I used the same recipe for cleaning fine silver, but with a slight variation. I use boiling white vinegar in place of water. I bubbles up like crazy, so pour the vinegar slowly! I am going to try some of the readers ideas.
    Thanks for such a great site and blog.
    ~Trish RN

  16. avatar

    Ed Carder

    April 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

    While on the subject of tarnish. What is your opinion of the silver and gold plated anti-tarnish products on the market these days?

  17. avatar

    Olive Kenney

    April 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I have 2 multistrand liquid silver necklaces that really need cleaning. Also, I used to make necklaces with liquid silver, but quit because of the tarnish. I was afraid to use any kind of liquid cleaning method because I was told that the thread would rot if not thoroughly dried. Is this a cause for concern? Or are the methods mentioned safe to use?

  18. avatar

    Frank Maloney

    June 20, 2014 at 5:07 am

    I have been trying for years to find a product / technique for
    cleaning pewter.
    Can anyone help?

  19. avatar

    Judi Morningstar

    December 9, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Does anyone have recommendations for a ‘coating’ treatment after cleaning?

  20. avatar

    Ginna Wells

    March 4, 2015 at 7:40 am

    I must say that I use baking soda to clean my jewellery and it works amazing! Thanks a lot for the interesting article! Regards! Cricklewood Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

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