Don’t despair over those tarnished silver heirlooms you’ve discovered in your attic. A little silver polish is all you need to return those cherished jewelry pieces, flatware, family heirlooms, or old sports medals to their former glory.
Quality silver polish is formulated to remove tarnish from silver quickly without scratching or eroding its surface. Polishes come in various forms, including sprays, creams, liquids, and dips, to clean and shine different types of silver objects. Many use formulas that make the cleaning process quick and easy, allowing you to clean an entire set of silverware in one sitting so you can spend more time preparing the dinner menu.
If you have a silver collection that needs a good polishing, read on to learn how to make those prized possessions shine once again. This list of some of the best silver polishes can help.
- BEST OVERALL: Weiman Silver Polish and Cleaner – 8 Ounce
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Goddards Silver Polisher Foam with Sponge Applicator
- BEST WIPES: Simple Shine Silver Cleaning Wipes
- BEST SPRAY: W.J. Hagerty Silversmiths Pump Spray Polish
- BEST CREAM: Wright’s Silver Cleaner and Polish Cream
- BEST CLOTH: Mayflower Products Polishing Cloth 2 Sizes Set
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Tarn-X PRO Tarnish Remover
- BEST GENTLE: Scotchgard Tarni-Shield Silver Polish
- BEST FOR JEWELRY: Brilliant 8 Oz Silver Jewelry Cleaner with Basket
- BEST FOR SILVERWARE: Hagerty 17245 Flatware Silver Dip
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Silver Polish
With so many silver polish choices, finding the right one to clean your precious silver can be a daunting process. Learn more about the types of polishes to determine which is the best silver polish for restoring shine to your treasured items.
- Wipes: This type consists of a cloth coated with a dry cleaner. There is no need to squeeze a solution out of a bottle or apply a cream with wipes. Simply wipe the tarnish free, rinse, and buff.
- Spray: Silver spray cleaner comes in a bottle with a pump spray head. Spray polish works well for objects with small crevices that are hard to reach with a cream or liquid cleaner.
- Cream: With a thicker consistency than other cleaners, cream polish provides perhaps the most substantial cleaning option. Apply the cream, which removes the tarnish, then rinse with water and buff to a shine.
- Gloves: This creative design combines a cloth cleaner with a glove shape. The terry cloth gloves are treated with a dry cleaner that removes the tarnish. Simply put the gloves on, then rub the object to a shine.
- Foam: Foam cleaners come in a jar and are applied using a moist foam applicator. The foam creates a lather around the object that reacts with the metal to remove the tarnish. Once the tarnish is removed, the foam rinses off with water.
- Liquids/Dips: Liquids and dips work either by applying directly to the object with a cloth or by submerging the item into a solution. Liquids have a thicker consistency and are applied with a soft cloth, similar to using creams. Dips have thinner, waterlike consistency and feature larger containers that allow you to soak the entire piece in the cleaning solution.
It used to be that removing tarnish from silver also meant removing a little bit of silver along with it. Tarnish occurs when sulfur that floats naturally in the air attaches to silver, creating silver sulfate. Polishing silver used to remove that unsightly sulfur plus the silver attached to it, causing the piece of silver to erode a small amount with each polishing.
Today’s silver polish includes powerful ingredients designed to remove tarnish by separating the sulfur from the silver to preserve the piece while cleaning it. This makes it safe for polishing silver-plated objects as well as solid silver pieces. Although these formulas are closely guarded secrets, most include chemicals that remove tarnish and leave protective films that resist scratches and prevent tarnish from forming.
Some silver polishes feature gentle solutions that are safe to use with silver jewelry that has gemstones. High-strength silver polish will clean heavily tarnished silver. Keep in mind that some silver polish can damage certain jewelry. Some cleaners can cause porous stones such as pearls, emeralds, and amber to lose some of the oil that gives them their color.
- Jewelry: Sprays and creams allow you to get into the fine details of jewelry that you can’t reach with a cloth. Dips are also effective for cleaning silver jewelry with nonporous gemstones.
- Flatware: While a cream or liquid will work well with utensils, cleaning a large silverware set using this method can be tedious and time-consuming. Dips that allow you to put multiple pieces of silver into a solution can speed up the cleaning of a 46-piece flatware set.
- Plates: Sprays, foams, and creams work well for cleaning large silver pieces such as plates or teapots. This type of silver polish allows you to remove large amounts of tarnish while leaving a substantial film to protect the silver from future tarnish.
- Antiques: Gentle cleaners are best with antiques that have a silver patina. Stronger cleaners will remove patinas, stealing some of the character of your antique.
Application varies depending on the product type. Creams and liquids go on with a soft cloth and then are rinsed with water before polishing with a soft, dry cloth. While this is an effective way of cleaning silver, it also can be time-consuming.
Dips offer a much easier way of cleaning silver by eliminating the need to rub or work with messy creams and liquids. Simply soak the item, rinse, and buff.
Cloths coated with dry cleaner eliminate the mess of working with a liquid or cream; however, they require more elbow grease to get the shine you’re after. For items with built-up tarnish, you’ll likely need a good silver polishing brush to return the object to its former glory.
Our Top Picks
The following products are organized by category to help you shop and choose the best silver polish for your needs to clean a prized antique, set of silverware, or diamond engagement ring.
Brighten up silver quickly and safely with Weiman Silver Polish and Cleaner. Simply wipe this product onto silver to remove dirt and tarnish and restore silver finery to a shiny finish. Its ammonia-free formula makes it safe to use on jewelry with gemstones and that fine set of silverware that’s been passed down through generations. Apply the polish with a soft cloth, rinse, and buff.
Weiman’s polish has staying power, keeping silver shiny and tarnish-free for a long time. It leaves behind a protective film that resists scratches as well as tarnish. Weiman’s silver polish, which comes in an 8-ounce bottle, also works with gold, brass, copper, and aluminum.
An affordable cleaner like Goddard’s Silver Polisher Foam with a sponge applicator can polish even expensive silver. With its three-in-one formula, this Goddard foam easily removes grime, dirt, and tarnish from rings, necklaces, silverware, and silver-plated heirlooms with a nonabrasive formula that doesn’t require aggressive scrubbing and won’t leave scratches.
Lather the polish onto the silver using the sponge applicator, rinse away the foam along with the tarnish, dry, and buff. The polish leaves behind a tarnish-resistant film that protects your silver for months. Goddard’s silver polish comes in a 6-ounce container.
One way of speeding up that Saturday-afternoon silver-cleaning job is by trading the rag and liquid polish for pretreated wipes like the Simple Shine Silver Cleaning Wipes. Use these nonabrasive wipes to clean everything from your silver coin collection to antique flatware to silver earrings. Each 100 percent cotton cloth is saturated with a silver cleaner that quickly wipes away tarnish and grime, leaving a thin layer to resist future tarnish.
The 5-by-7-inch soft cotton wipes are thick enough to endure vigorous polishing and soft enough not to leave scratches. The wipes also won’t shed lint, so you don’t have to worry about dusting your silver after cleaning it. Each package contains 30 wipes.
One of the best ways to get to those intricate nooks and crannies in silver jewelry is with a spray like W.J. Hagerty’s Silversmiths Pump Spray Polish. The spray can reach places a cloth can’t reach. This spray is an excellent way to keep your silver jewelry in sparkling condition. It’s also a suitable option for silver plates and other dinnerware.
Spray the cleaner on, allow it to dry, and then buff with a cloth. As with other silver polishes, Hagerty’s spray polish includes a preservative that delays the growth of tarnish on your silver. This pump spray comes in 10.5-ounce bottles.
The Mayflower Products Polishing Cloth Set uses a two-step system that requires a bit of elbow grease. However, using a cloth cleaner can eliminate the mess associated with sprays and creams. Use the white cloth to apply the embedded cleaning solution onto the silver, removing the tarnish. Then use the untreated gray flannel cloth to buff to a bright shine.
Both cloths are made of 100 percent soft cotton, so you don’t need to worry about scratches. This set comes with a larger 11-by-14-inch cloth for home use and a smaller 8-by-6-inch cloth for small items or taking along on trips.
For jobs that require removing heavily tarnished silver, Tarn-X PRO Tarnish Remover has a little more oomph than standard silver cleaners. Tarn-X can cut through years of built-up tarnish to get your silver shining again.
Simply wipe the polish on and rinse it off, then buff to a shine. It is suitable for cleaning jewelry and silver flatware. It will also work for brightening other metals, including copper, gold, and platinum. This product comes in 1-gallon or 5-gallon jugs, so it works as well at keeping home silver serving dishes and trays shiny, in commercial kitchens, or to keep copper boilers clean in factories.
Polishing your cherished silver can be a risky endeavor, but a gentle product like Scotchgard Tarni-Shield Silver Polish can protect as it cleans. The wrong polish can lead to scratches or discoloration. Scotchgard delivers some of the least abrasive ingredients that work in its Tarni-Shield polish.
With no abrasives in its formula, this cleaner will restore the luster of your best silver without leaving damaging scratches. It also leaves a substantial barrier against tarnish, keeping your silver shiny for a long time. You can also use it to clean copper, brass, and other metals. Scotchgard Tarni-Shield comes in an 8-ounce bottle.
With their intricate shapes and gemstones, silver jewelry can be challenging to clean properly, and a dip like the Brilliant 8 Oz Silver Jewelry Cleaner with Basket can make it simpler. Users can dip an entire piece into the solution and let the cleaner do its job. Simply drop your jewelry into the basket, and submerge it into the solution. After letting the jewelry soak, remove it, rinse, and polish to a shine with a soft cloth. The product includes a small brush to clean stubborn tarnish out of little crannies. This cleaner comes in 8-ounce jars with a large 3-inch opening that’s wide enough to handle most jewelry.
Polishing a 45-piece set of silver flatware with liquid cleaners can be downright laborious, but the dip-style Hagerty 17245 Flatware Silver Dip can save your hands from so much work. Simply dip your salad forks, soup spoons, dinner knives, and dessert forks a few at a time into the tall bottle of polish, wipe them down with a cloth, and your silverware is ready for a special dinner.
This silver dip is more limited than other polish types because it’s meant only for silver pieces that can be dipped. As with other polishes, Hagerty’s dip leaves a film that delays tarnish. This polish comes in 17-ounce bottles.
The Advantages of Owning Silver Polish
Silver polish is a convenient cleaner to have at the ready in your pantry. Good silver polish will help you keep your jewelry and silver flatware shiny and tarnish-free. Some cleaners will even work with other metals, such as gold and copper, and a few even polish stainless steel. By cleaning your own jewelry, you save yourself the trip and expense of going to a professional jewelry shop to get your silver cleaned. It also adds convenience, allowing you to shine that tarnished piece of jewelry you plan to wear that evening at a moment’s notice.
- Silver polish helps you keep your collection of silver flatware clean.
- Polish saves the expense and time of having to get your silver professionally cleaned.
- With silver polish on hand, you get the convenience of cleaning items on short notice.
- Some silver cleaners also work with other metals.
FAQs About Silver Polish
If you’re still wondering about which silver polish will work best for your needs, read on for answers to some of the most common concerns about silver polish.
Q. Can tarnished silver be restored?
Even heavily tarnished silver can be restored with a quality silver polish.
Q. Does real silver turn black?
Silver turns black when it comes into contact with hydrogen sulfide, which is in the air. When silver contacts it, a chemical reaction causes a black layer to form on the silver.
Q. How do you clean badly tarnished silver?
To clean badly tarnished silver, you need to use a heavy-duty cleaner that is strong enough to cut through the layers of tarnish.
Q. What is the best way to clean sterling silver?
The best way to clean sterling silver is with high-quality silver polish. Weiman Silver Polish and Cleaner is suitable for both jewelry and flatware, while a dip, such as Hagerty’s Silver Dip, is best for large sets of silver tableware. For jewelry with gemstones or silver objects with a patina, use a gentle cleaner, such as Scotchguard Tarni-Shield.
Q. How do you keep silver shiny?
Regularly buffing silver is the best way to keep it shiny. Use a treated cloth, such as a Mayflower Polishing Cloth, to maintain your silver. Wipe the object with the treated side, rinse it, and buff it with the cloth’s untreated side.
Q. Can I use cleaning wipes for silver-plated items?
Wipes can be used for silver-plated items, as long as the wipes are safe for this purpose. Wipes such as Simple Shine Silver Wipes will clean silver-plated objects without removing the layer of silver.