When preparing to clean your silver, always keep in mind that your main goal is to preserve the silver surface of your antique sterling silver pieces. To do so, it is important to:
To begin cleaning tarnished silver, lay a soft cloth down on your work surface to protect your piece. It’s also best to wear a pair of cotton gloves to limit the amount of oils and other residue that your fingertips leave behind.
Dust your silverware with a soft cloth; use a light bristle brush or cotton bud for hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
The combination of a silver cleaning cloth and a solution of warm water combined with a mild detergent should do the trick when it comes to light tarnish. After working over the entirety of your silver piece, be sure to dry it thoroughly before storing away.
For silver wares that are completely covered with a black layer of tarnish, you will need to work a little harder, but home remedies for cleaning silver will still work. Using the same mild detergent solution and a silver cleaning cloth or light bristle brush, work over your piece slowly and carefully. For heavier cleanings, you can also clean your silver with a solution of baking soda, salt, vinegar, and boiling water.
Cleaning silver with toothpaste or even with tomato ketchup has also been shown to reduce the appearance of tarnish, however these approaches have their risks. The acidity of ketchup could result in damage to your silver, while the various compounds in fluoride toothpaste may result in unintended reactions.