Sterling silver jewelry is quite stunning and looks good on just about everyone. However, silver necklaces will always tarnish at one point or the other, regardless of how much attention you give it and how well you care for it. As a result, all sterling silver and silver pieces of jewelry have to be cleaned frequently to reduce and get rid of tarnish.
This is also the reason why experts and DIYers have come up with many alternatives for cleaning silver jewelry. Most of these alternatives are home remedies that make use of simple and everyday items found in all homes.
One of the recommended home remedies for cleaning silver jewelry is toothpaste. Others include baking soda, lemon juice, and ordinary liquid dishwashing detergent.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can use toothpaste to clean your tarnished silver necklace, how toothpaste helps to get rid of the black tarnish, and the kind of toothpaste to use to clean the silver jewelry. So, let’s get into it!
Is it safe to clean silver with toothpaste?
While toothpaste is often recommended as one of the home remedies for cleaning silver jewelry, some people and jewelers advise against the use of toothpaste for cleaning the jewelry.
The reason for this is that despite the toothpaste being a great product for getting rid of that tarnished layer on the silver jewelry; it contains abrasive materials that would damage the silver grain, especially on the high-quality sterling silver pieces, the sterling silver pieces with a high polish, and silver-plated pieces.
In other words, the abrasive particles that make toothpaste ideal for cleaning silver might damage the jewelry, especially if you use toothpaste to clean the jewelry regularly, where it will leave your perfect jewelry with scratch marks.
So, if you prefer to use toothpaste to clean your silver jewelry, we recommend using the toothpaste occasionally. That said, you will be happy to know that you can use toothpaste to safely clean your matte or satin silver pieces of jewelry.
Also, it’s important to remember that some jewelers will intentionally age silver jewelry for more of a rustic look, the same that you see on aging platinum jewelry. If this is not your intention, and it shouldn’t be with your silver jewelry, you’d want to exercise caution when cleaning the silver necklace using toothpaste.
If the silver necklace is a fragile piece or an antique, you should not clean it with toothpaste but have it cleaned carefully by a professional jewelry cleaner.
What kind of toothpaste do you use to clean jewelry?
When using toothpaste to clean your jewelry, you should use white and plain-colored toothpaste. You should avoid the toothpaste with extras of any kind and not just the color because the toothpaste with extras tends to be very abrasive, and they would scratch the jewelry.
Besides the colored and more aggressive toothpastes, you should also steer clear of the gel toothpastes – these toothpastes lack the abrasiveness needed to get rid of the tarnish. In other words, the gel toothpaste is free of baking soda needed to clean the jewelry properly.
You should also know that the best kind of toothpaste to clean your jewelry with is the toothpaste that contains baking soda, which makes sense because baking soda is the perfect alternative to toothpaste when it comes to cleaning sterling silver jewelry.
The other kind of toothpaste you must avoid, despite the promise for the fastest action and proper cleaning of the silver necklace, would be the tooth whitening toothpaste, especially the toothpastes that boast the strongest whitening power, as well as tartar control. Although they will remove the tarnish, the chemicals incorporated in these toothpastes will damage the silver.
So, how do you use toothpaste to clean and get rid of a thick layer of tarnish on your sterling silver necklace?
How to clean silver necklace with toothpaste
Now that we are on the same page regarding the kind of toothpaste to use to clean silver jewelry let’s take a look at how you should use toothpaste when cleaning your sterling silver necklace.
1. Dampen the necklace
Dampen a small, clean piece of microfiber cloth. This is crucial for cleaning the soft silver necklaces or the delicate necklace, albeit with more gentleness.
Now, dampen the silver necklace in clean water. Doing this will soften the toothpaste, making it easier for you to spread the toothpaste on the necklace. You could dampen the necklace either by dipping it into a glass bowl filled with clean and maybe lukewarm water, although you may also opt to use a spray bottle to squirt it with water.
Though tempting, you shouldn’t work or try to dampen the necklace over or in the sink because you risk dropping the necklace if it falls down the drain.
2. Apply Toothpaste
Now that the necklace is perfectly damp, it’s time to apply toothpaste to it: Spread pea-sized or even a smaller amount of toothpaste on the necklace. Essentially, the amount of toothpaste you choose to use depends on the size of the necklace – a dainty, delicate necklace needs less toothpaste than a wide Figaro chain necklace.
For toothpaste application, you could use either a paper towel, a sponge, or a q-tip, and make sure that the entire necklace is covered in toothpaste.
Let it sit for about 3 minutes, then start to rub the necklace gently. You could use a q-tip, a small damp cloth, damp tissue, or even paper towels. Make sure that you use the lightest touch when rubbing the necklace to avoid scratching the sterling silver.
Keep in mind that despite the alloying and presence of copper, the sterling silver jewelry is quite soft (it has 92.5% pure silver, after all). For the bigger sections or parts like the pendant, use paper towels or a cotton cloth. You could also run the chain necklace through a piece of folded paper towel.
If it’s encrusted with gemstones, you’d have to be extra careful cleaning it. Gemstones like lapis, emeralds, amber, and turquoise or lapis are quite soft, and they would be damaged or scratched by the toothpaste, especially if you clean it aggressively.
3. Gentle on the brush
You will need a soft-bristled toothbrush like kids’ toothbrush to clean out gunk, dirt, and tarnish from the grooves and for the necklaces with more intricate designs. Dampen the toothbrush first to easily work through the nooks and crannies. You could also use the Q-tip, especially when cleaning the clasp.
4. Get rid of the residue.
Once satisfied and you’re sure that you’ve taken out all the tarnish or done that to the best of your ability, wipe off the residual toothpaste using tissue, a clean cloth, or a paper towel. Gently pull the necklace through the folded paper towel.
You will notice the layer of tarnish that was there before start disappearing, and your silver necklace will become brighter.
If there is still tarnish, you’d have to repeat the steps above until satisfied.
5. Rinse the necklace
Once done and happy with how the necklace, rinse it. Plug the sink, then rinse the necklace under running warm water. You could also rinse it in a bowl with warm water if you are worried about dropping the necklace. Rinse off all the toothpaste residue, then pat dry it on a soft cotton/ microfiber cloth or towel. Let it air dry after drying, then store it in an airtight jewelry storage box or pouch.
Toothpaste will get rid of the layer of tarnish on your sterling silver necklace. Just follow the steps above for the best results. Read more tips here or here!
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.