Silver Polishing Cloths & Cleaner Recipe

Similar idea to the pretreated dusting cloths, these homemade polishing cloths are for cleaning and removing tarnish from silver. You’ll also find a sour milk soak recipe at the bottom.

ShineItems Needed:

10″ to 12″ square soft cloths*
2 cups water (cool)
1/2 cup ammonia
1/4 cup liquid silver polish


  • Mix the liquid ingredients in a glass bowl or dish.
  • Take a clean cloth square and dip it in the solution, let it soak for a few seconds then lift out and squeeze to remove excess liquid (so it won’t drip when hanging to dry). Dip one at a time.
  • Hang dry. If hanging inside, make sure to choose an area out of reach of kids and pets and well ventilated.
  • Once they’re dry you can fold them and seal in a plastic container or ziploc bag.
  • Use to clean and buff your silver pieces as needed.

You can use these until they’re really grungy and no longer removing tarnish, they could be shredded at this point. If they’re good for another round or two, launder them well in hot water and detergent, re-dip in a fresh batch of the recipe and use again. Since they are first soaked in ammonia, I would skip using bleach in the laundry cycle.

Gloves: If you prefer using polishing gloves, you can do that with this recipe too. Buy heavy cotton gloves (no metal clasps at wrists, just elastic), soak in the solution, hang to dry and use as you would the cloths above.

*Fabric Ideas: Choose plain flannelette, diaper cloth, good quality terry (but not too thick) or heavy cotton napkins. For best results, make sure to finish or hem the edges before using.

Sour Milk Soak

*First published August 3, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization

PitcherIf you have a carton of milk that has expired, don’t toss it out because sour milk is a great silver cleaner.


  • For every cup of of milk, stir in one tablespoon lemon juice or one tablespoon vinegar and leave for five minutes so it sours.
  • If the milk is sour already, you can skip adding the lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Soak your pieces in the sour milk overnight (completely covered) and then wash as usual.

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    • Donald Judd

    I’d like to try the recipe but don’t know what exactly is meant by ‘liquid silver polish’ Do you mean something like Silvo or a dip type silver cleaner?

      • TipNut

      Hi Donald, it refers to silver polish that is bottled in liquid form.

        • Aaron

        I had the same question as Donald and TipNut, your answer gave me the first real laugh I have had in months.

        I am a retired chemist, I never thought to try this until I saw the price of commercial cloths and my wife told me to get some so I am grateful for the tip.

        I found numerous silver treatments in both liquid and paste form. Some are labeled simply as “tarnish removers”; others say “cleans and polishes in one step”; one said “make your silver look like new while you lose weight”.

        So to date, I’ve tried this recipe once with Tarnex liquid and a sudsing ammonia solution.
        Results were not eye-popping so I persevere.
        Tonight, I’ve dissolved 2 Tbsp of paste polish into the Tarnex, added the water and then the ammonia. It’s going to soak on the back porch all night then dry in the morning sun. Thanks for the tip.

          • Mungo

          and how well did that formula work Aaron ?

          • M.jones

          Tarnex will ruin your silver! Talk to any silversmith and they’ll tell you not to use it on anything you like and want to keep. It takes away that deep luster of silver and leaves a dull finish that just won’t polish out. And the smell is horrid, like old school hair permanent wave solution.
          The absolute best “liquid” silver cleaner/polisher/protector I’ve ever used, hands down, is
          “Howard ‘Pine-Ola’ Silver Polish”. Been around for ages (it’s gotta be close to a century I think).
          The stuff just works. Smells like pine, gentle on hands & the silver you’re cleaning.
          Easy to use- rub some on (a little goes a long way) let it dry, then buff it out. It slows down tarnishing too.
          So about the polishing cloths? Get a microfiber or similar super soft cloth (cheap on car wax aisle), get some Pine-Ola, then after cleaning your jewelry or whatever, just save your cloth in a plastic bag. When a quick brightening is needed, lightly moisten a corner of your cloth and use it the same way as before. Easy schmeezy.
          For less than 20 bucks, my silver jewelry & table service has had a beautiful shine with that luster we all love in silver for about 8 years. Maybe 9. No exaggeration. Try it. You’ll see.

            • kathy Donohoe

            Use non-sudsy ammonia.
            I’ve made this before – but know some one will try the “dissing” kind. It won’t work nearly as well as using NON-sudsing ammonia.

    • Faye

    Is the sour milk soak ok for silver with mirrors?

    I have a mirror (on one side) and silver (on the reverse side).

    Will the sour milk soak recommended for overnight soaking
    discolor the mirror? What can I expect?

    Thank you,


    • Susan M Madigan

    I read another article that said to never use ammonia on silver jewelry. Sooo confusing. Any ideas?

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