Make a sterling silver cleaner by placing the jewelry in a nonreactive bowl lined with a piece of aluminum foil and then pouring a solution of baking soda, salt and hot water into the bowl. Once the tarnish disappears, rinse the jewelry in cool water, and discard the solution.
About 92.5 percent of sterling silver is silver, and 7.5 percent is a mixture of other metals that contribute to the product's physical stability. In its purest form, silver is too malleable to make sturdy products by itself. The other stabilizing metals react to moisture and chemicals in the air to create the discoloration known as tarnish.
Using a physical or chemical abrasive can remove tarnish from jewelry, but successful removal depends on the extent of the tarnish and type of cleaning agent used. RD.com recommends applying household items with a high acid content, such as ketchup, window cleaner or lemon-lime soda, to a piece of silver to remove tarnish. For large or flat pieces of jewelry, use a fine, abrasive paste by combining baking soda and water. Prevent tarnish by sealing unused sterling silver jewelry in a plastic bag or container.
YankeeMagazine.com advises contacting a professional jeweler or silversmith for pieces with attached components or speciality fixtures, since at-home methods may damage non-sterling-silver portions of the jewelry.