I am not the fancy, heirloom silver type of girl. I blame it on Colorado. Colorado is in a bubble; not the mid-west or the southern living state, but not exactly Vegas. But, over the years, I inherited and adopted heirloom silver pieces from extended family members. 



But thanks to Pinterest and Instagram I discovered the charm of vintage silver. And, my southern blog friends assured me a little heirloom silver goes a long way in the decor.

 So with the hodgepodge of silver pieces, I set out to find out how to clean heirloom silver.

Many of my heirloom sterling pieces were tucked away in boxes and stored in the basement or the back of my hutch.

Some of these pieces have traveled back and forth across state lines with temperature and humidity fluctuations.

My favorite piece, a sterling silver water pitcher from my grandmother had more tarnish than sparkle.


I read a few cleaning solutions before I took on this project. I read this method with aluminum foil. Other tutorials used toothpaste.  I went the route of the aluminum foil because I did not have an extra tube of toothpaste and did not want to sacrifice my husband’s toothpaste.

Quickly restore your jewelry or tableware with vinegar, water and baking soda. This cleaning agent is a great option for many things, including your tarnished silver. Mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl of lukewarm water. Let the silver soak for two to three hours.

I decided to give it a try. My rationale was the aluminum foil method would not add more tarnish. As with any cleaning, project do a test with a small spoon or flatware. 

How to Clean Heirloom Silver

This how-to tutorial requires a low boil of water. Once the water begins to boil, turn off the heat. Add the sterling piece(s). My sterling pitcher took up the entire pot. Tuck crumpled balls of aluminum foil around the sterling pieces. The aluminum foil acted as the cleaning agent. 


Add approximately a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the pot of water. I found this box in bulk and keep it under the sink. 


It was like a high school chemistry lab in my kitchen. 


The aluminum foil acted like a magnet and pulled the grime and oxidation buildup onto the foil. That concludes my knowledge of chemical reactions. 

I love the results. As with any cleaning agent and process start with a smaller piece. I used a silver-plated ice scoop as my test piece. And, then I just went all-in with my sterling pitcher. 


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  1. Laura, I’ve not tried this technique, but had read of it. I’ll give it a try. There is always silver to clean here.

    1. Hi Sarah, Keep me posted on the results!Thanks for stopping by! laura

  2. Kathleen Charm Bracelet Diva {At Home} says:

    I have to admit that I’m a tarnished silver kind of girl:) That being said, I use a creme that comes with a sponge and it works like magic! Love having heirlooms! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen|Our Hopeful Home

    1. I love a little tarnish too! Thanks Kathleen! laura

  3. Thank you Laura! You’ve just inspired me to go clean my silver. I’ve been needing to do this for a long time and finally have a great method! Have a great weekend!

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