Updated October 2022
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Buying guide for Best silver cleaners

With its highly reflective shine and lustrous finish, silver is used to make items that are both practical for daily use and treasured for their beauty, including flatware and jewelry. However, because pure silver is soft, it is usually combined with other metals. This creates an alloy that maintains the metal’s beauty but is prone to tarnishing. Luckily, tarnish is easy to remove with a silver cleaner.

Silver cleaners restore silver’s mirror-like shine. Some formulas, such as those with abrasive chemicals, are best suited for seriously tarnished items, but there are also gentler options and chemical-free, non-toxic formulas available. Our shopping guide is chock-full of information, tips, and product recommendations for caring for your silver items.

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Silver tarnishes much faster in humid climates. In addition, people who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution are also likely to find that their silver items tarnish quickly.

Why does silver tarnish?

Most silver items are actually an alloy, which means that the silver is mixed with another metal to make it strong enough for everyday use or wear. Although other metals are sometimes used, copper is most commonly combined with fine silver to create a more durable alloy. When exposed to air, the alloy tarnishes in reaction to sulfur, pollutants, and moisture. The result is a dull, darkened, or even dirty appearance to what was once a brilliant shine.

Types of silver

Fine silver

Silver is found in nature in the form of ore or as a byproduct of refining other metals. Fine silver is often referred to as 999, which means it is 99.9% pure silver. While it is used to make some small trinkets and bullion, fine silver is very soft. It doesn’t tarnish.

Sterling silver

When silver is mixed with other metals, it becomes an alloy. Sterling silver is the most common alloy used to make jewelry and a wide variety of tableware, and it is almost always mixed with copper for lasting durability. Sterling silver is also referred to as 925, which means it is 92.5%  silver and 7.5% other metals. However, some sterling contains a bit more silver: 95% or 950.

Coin silver

This term is simply used to describe the types of silver that are used to make coins. This silver also primarily contains copper with a varying percentage of silver, about 75% to 90% for a 750 to 900 rating.

Silver plating

Plating is a process that involves coating a base metal with a thin layer of silver. Overlay is a similar process. While silver-plated items are beautiful, they must be handled with care as the silver layer can wear away over time, exposing the base metal beneath. They may be inscribed with the words “plate” or “silverplate.”

International silver

You may come across an item that is made of a silver alloy from another country. Russian, Mexican, British, and German pieces typically contain varying amounts of silver and other metals, but they are similar in nature to standard sterling silver.

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Expert Tip
When using products that aren’t all-natural, please wear a face mask. The chemicals are very strong and can be dangerous.
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Types of silver cleaners

Any type of silver alloy can benefit from a silver cleaner once it tarnishes. However, keep in mind that plated items must be cleaned gently to avoid wearing down the silver layers.


Dips, which are sometimes called baths, are liquid solutions designed for dipping and soaking silver items with various degrees of tarnish. Some solutions come with trays for coating small pieces like rings or pendants. Items like flatware can be dipped, and larger pieces can be wiped with the liquid. Most dips require rinsing, and some include polishing cloths. Although the liquid can be a bit messy, dips are highly effective at removing even stubborn tarnish.


When it comes to convenience, wipes are at the top of the list. They are infused with a silver cleaning solution and come in canisters so you can pop them out one at a time. Many consumers love the fact that wipes aren’t messy to use. They also work well on most types of tarnish, are suitable for sterling silver and plated items, and can be used on numerous other materials without the need to rinse after wiping.


If you have a major tarnish-removing job to accomplish, you should consider using a silver polish. Also referred to as silver creams, these cleaners work almost like car wax. Rub them on and buff them off to reveal a beautiful shine. The downside is that they are more labor-intensive to use, and because they require some rubbing, they can be harsh on silverplate. The final step requires thorough rinsing for the best results.


These types of silver cleaners aren’t as readily available as other methods, but they have some notable features. Foams work similarly to polishes in that you work them into a lather, then apply in a rubbing motion. However, they are somewhat easier to wipe off. They also work well for heavily tarnished items, but caution must be taken when applying to silverplate. Rinsing is recommended.


For light silver cleaning tasks, cloths are very handy. They typically have two sides, one with an embedded silver cleaner to remove tarnish and one for buffing and polishing. Cloths work well for small items or occasional tarnish removal, but they aren’t as versatile when it comes to cleaning other metals or severe tarnish. Care must also be taken not to rub too vigorously over silver plating.


Silver sprays are ideal for cleaning larger items that can’t easily be dipped. Many formulas are safe to use on silverplate, as you simply spray it on and wipe off to get great results. Many sprays don’t require rinsing.

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Expert Tip
Cleaning the product with soapy water prior to polishing provides better results.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Silver cleaner prices

The prices of silver cleaners vary a bit, but they are all quite affordable.

  • Silver dips: Expect to pay $8 to $15 and up to $20 for kits with polishing cloths.
  • Silver wipes: Expect to pay about $6 to $16 for a canister of 10 to 30 wipes.
  • Silver polishes and foams: These cost around $4 to $15.
  • Silver cleaning cloth: A quality two-sided silver cleaning cloth will cost in the neighborhood of $5 to $8.
  • Silver sprays: These cost approximately $12 to $17.


  • Some silver jewelry pieces have oxidized finishes and are often referred to as antique silver. This dark coloration is designed to give sterling silver jewelry an aged effect, and it can be damaged or even removed by some silver cleaners. Wiping these pieces gently with a silver cleaning cloth is your best option to avoid damage.
  • Does your silver flatware have a tarnished appearance? Silver wipes are convenient and easy to use, and they work well for removing most tarnish with minimal mess.
  • Some types of silver cleaners can be used to clean other types of metals, such as gold, platinum, and brass.
  • Always follow the instructions that come with the silver cleaner you choose. This will help you achieve the best results.
  • Using a silver cleaning cloth is arguably the easiest way to clean small silver items. In addition to doing a good job of removing tarnish, the soft material buffs the metal for a mirror-like shine.
  • If you want to avoid using harsh chemicals when you clean your silver items, look for products that don’t contain ammonia or that indicate they are environmentally safe.
  • Use a silver cleaner on your special pieces of sterling silver jewelry after each time you wear them. This will help prevent tarnish from developing while they are in storage.
Did you know?
Wear gloves to prevent any type of chemical reactions to tarnish removers and silver cleaners. Skin irritations will happen if you’re not careful.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert
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Jewelry, flatware, pitchers, platters, and tea sets are some of the most common items made of sterling silver. When their finish tarnishes, they are easily brought back to a high shine by using a silver cleaner.


Q. Which type of silver cleaner works best for sterling jewelry with links and grooves that are difficult to clean using a cloth?

A. When it comes to small, tight crevices on sterling silver jewelry, it’s best to use a dip or bath. That’s because the fluid solution can easily reach areas that a cloth or wipe can’t.

Q. Can silver cleaning wipes be used on silver-plated items?

A. Because silver cleaning wipes require very little rubbing, they are a good choice for wiping tarnish off silverplate. Just be sure to choose a quality product that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals for use on delicate or thinly plated items.

Q. I have sterling silver flatware that I use several times a year for special occasions. How often should I clean it with a silver cleaner to prevent tarnish from developing?

A. The answer depends on where you live. If your area is prone to humidity, using a silver cleaner on your flatware about once a month will keep the tarnish at bay. Otherwise, cleaning every few months should suffice so that your flatware is ready to use at your next gathering.

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