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This Non-Toxic Household Item Is the Secret to Perfectly Polished Silver

Simply Recipes logo Simply Recipes 3/7/2023 Laurel Randolph

If you have a few pieces of tarnished silver that need cleaning, don’t bother with silver polish. You already have a non-toxic silver cleaner in your home: toothpaste!

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I have distinct memories of my grandmother pulling out her ornate wood case full of silver flatware along with a bottle of silver polish. She’d polish the pieces, one by one, before every big family dinner. While the utensils would end up gleaming, the room would smell terrible. 

Silver polish is often toxic with an unwelcome aroma. It’s also yet another cleaner that you’ll rarely use but still have to store in your house. If you own a few silver pieces like I do—a pie server, several fun pieces of silverware, and a few small jewelry items—then there’s no need for silver polish. All you need is an ordinary tube of toothpaste.

A Quick and Easy Trick

There are a number of non-toxic tricks for cleaning silver, with most involving soaking in baking soda and vinegar. While I love using baking soda and vinegar as all-natural cleaning agents, I rarely have enough silver that needs polishing to justify the fuss. 

Toothpaste works remarkably well, is fast, and you only need a small squeeze per item to make it shine just like new.

What Kind of Toothpaste to Use

A standard paste toothpaste (the white kind) works the best for cleaning silver. Avoid gel toothpaste or any that contain strong abrasives. If you use paste toothpaste for cleaning your teeth, there’s a good chance it’ll work just fine on silver. I use the same Colgate that I use to brush my teeth.

If you have an old toothbrush available, it’ll come in handy, too.

How to Clean Silver with Toothpaste

Gather your supplies:

Grab a tube of paste toothpaste, the item(s) that needs polishing, a clean dish towel or paper towel, and an old toothbrush if you have it. Otherwise, a soft sponge will do.

Add the toothpaste:

Add a small squeeze of toothpaste to the silver item. You won’t need much. I use a pea-sized amount to clean one piece of flatware.

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If you’re using a sponge, dampen it and wring it as dry as you can. Use the sponge or an old, dry toothbrush to smear the toothpaste all over the silver item, scrubbing it much like you’d apply toothpaste to your teeth.

Let sit… or not:

If your piece is especially tarnished, you may want to let it sit with the toothpaste applied for 5 to 10 minutes and then give it another scrub. I find that most items clean up right away and this isn’t necessary.

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Wash and dry:

Run the item under cool water and use the sponge or toothbrush to clean off all of the toothpaste and the tarnish along with it. Wash with dish soap and rinse once again. Once clean, set the item on a clean dish towel or paper towel and let dry.

Repeat (optional):

If your item isn’t quite tarnish-free, repeat this process. Most lightly tarnished items won’t need repeat cleanings, but some heavily tarnished items may take a couple of passes to get sparkly clean.

Try These Gentle Yet Effective Cleaning Tips


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