Food & Recipe | April 6, 2015

Experiments With Silver Cleaning

There are a plethora of toxic, expensive, quick and easy, and labor-intensive silver cleaning products on the market. And there are just as many kitchen cupboard ideas. American Link used old, heavily tarnished cutlery to really put some home remedies to the test.


Everyone wants beautiful, polished silver. No one wants to rub and scrub and polish.  American Link found four methods based on a chemical reaction. Instantaneous, one minute, and one hour. All three are in glass, to avoid any unplanned chemical reactions, and call for the silver to be completely submerged. Two involve aluminum foil and one was just soda-pop. Soda-pop?


For the test, we used heavily tarnished ornate butter knives, a jelly spoon, and a pickle fork.

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First: The Hour-Long Soak



Lemon-Lime Soda

Mason Jar



1. Fill a glass container with lemon-lime soda. We used a mason jar.

2. Add the silverware, set the timer for an hour.

3. Remove when time’s up.


The Results: The submerged spoon was a little shinier. And we wondered what the soda did to our stomachs. Hmmm.

Second: The One-Minute Wonder



Aluminum Foil

1 Tbsp Laundry detergent

1 Liter boiling water



1. Line a glass heat-proof bowl with aluminum foil.

2. Add one-tablespoon laundry detergent and one liter boiling water. Soak one minute.

3. Remove.


The Results: Small crevices of the intricate designs on this knife still show the black shadow of tarnish, however the knife looks much better. But we wondered, would different brands perform the same?

Third: Instant Gratification



Aluminum foil

1 Tbsp baking soda

Heat-Proof Bowl



1. Crumple a piece of aluminum foil and place in a glass heat-proof bowl.

2. Add one-tablespoon baking soda to the glass bowl, and pour in hot water.

3. Dip the silver in, swish a second, and remove.


The Results: Success. Even the engraving looks good. Because we had time, we tried it twice, first with a ball of foil, and then just crumpled to see if the surface area of exposed foil made a difference. The raised flowers on one handle and the fine etchings on the other had been cleaned equally well.

We’ve heard stories of coke cleaning the battery acid off corroded battery caps. Since lemon-lime soda didn’t work very well, we wondered what would happen if we used Coke on old silverware? As you can see in the video, the results with were disappointing. No real change.


Our conclusion? Drink the soda. Don’t bother trying to line a glass container with foil. The quickest, easiest, least expensive recipe really is the best. Now every time we open the silverware drawer we see beautiful, shiny, old-world cutlery.  No hand polishing necessary.

Credits // Author: Rasheila Dolleman // Photos: SueAnn Chong // Video: Paul Joy

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