How To Restore Shine And Deep Clean Your Silverware

We use our silverware every single day, and I’m assuming you probably do, too. But is it really as clean as you think it is? Sure, you pop them in the dishwasher after eating and you use the best dishwashing detergent money can buy. Good enough, right?


Over time, silverware gets a little gunky. If you look hard, you’ll notice your flatware is kind of foggy. Or at least not as shiny as it was when you first bought it. That’s a buildup of hard water and tarnish. By deep cleaning your flatware once every few months, you’ll always be eating with the cleanest utensils possible and they’ll always look as good as new.

learn how to restore old silverware


Baking Soda

Distilled Vinegar

Iodized Salt

Aluminum Foil

Extra Long Tongs (Silicone Lined Are Best)

You’ll also need a large pot, a sink drain stopper, and a bath towel to line your counter.

Deep Clean Your Silverware

Boil Water

First you’ll start by filling a big ol’ pot with water and pop it on the stove to heat to boiling.

Easy enough, right? See, I told you it was easy.

how to restore silverware

Line The Sink

While you’re waiting on the water to boil, plug the sink drain and line the basin with aluminum foil.

Yes, I realize this sounds crazy. But there is a method to my madness.

restore silverware and deep clean sink

Build Your Natural Cleaner

Sprinkle in quite a good amount of baking soda (to clean the flatware) and iodized salt (as a safe abrasive cleaner) directly onto the foil. Then pour in a little bit of distilled vinegar and stir it around with your hands. (Don’t use a spoon, it will rip the foil) You can pop on some dishwashing gloves if you’d like.

This will activate the baking soda and form a thick paste.

PS: You can use leftover vinegar for my DIY Steak-Free Glass Cleaner Recipe!

deep clean and restore silverware

Add All Of Your Silverware

Plop all your silverware right on top of your paste.

This is also a good time to take the divider tray out of the drawer and wash it, as well as wipe down the inside of the drawer. You’d be surprised how many crumbs end up in there. I still have no idea how this happens, but it’s very frustrating.

deep clean silverware

Carefully Pour In Boiling Water

Be very very careful when pouring in the water. Make sure you pour away from you, not towards you. There’s going to be an enormous amount of steam, so don’t worry if you need to take a break halfway through to keep from overheating your face. (Or fogging your glasses and not being able to see what you’re doing. That was my problem!)

Once you’ve emptied the pot of water into the sink, just let it hang out for a bit.

I let mine sit for 15 minutes, but you can do more or less depending on how dirty your flatware is. If you’ve owned them for twenty years and never done this before, you should probably let them hang out for thirty minutes.

restore old silverware

Remove Silverware From Water

Again, be super careful here. The water is still hot.

Use tongs (silicone lined tongs would have been better but mine weren’t long enough for this) and remove the silverware from the water to the other side of the sink.

If you only have a single basin sink, you can move the silverware into a large roasting pan or large pot.

how to make silverware shiny again

Rinse With Cold Water

Rinse the silverware with cold water to remove the cleaning mixture and lower the temperature so you can touch them.

After you rinse them, just let them hang out in the sink while you lay out a large bath towel onto the counter.

You’ll want half of the towel on the counter and half of it hanging off, like the photo below.

clean silverware tutorial

Lay Out The Silverware In A Single Layer

Move the clean silverware to the towel in a single layer. Then just flip the other end of the towel up and over the utensils and lightly rub them dry. This is way easier than drying each individual one.

Don’t skip this step! If you don’t dry them, you’ll end up with water spots and they won’t look as clean and shiny as they could.

remove tarnish from silverware

Empty Sink Water

After the sink water has cooled, you can pull out the foil and empty the water.

By lining the sink with foil, it acts as a transfer for the tarnish on the utensils. You can see by my foil sheet how the ickiness just moves right onto the foil. Gross, but pretty cool.

**You’ll be even more grossed out when you look at the other side of the foil and see how dirty your sink was…

how to make old silverware shiny again

Repeat Every 3-6 Months

To keep your flatware nice and clean, and to prolong the life and shine of them, you can repeat this process every three to six months.

It only takes about thirty minutes and it’s a cool science project for your kids to join in on.

Want More?

Like this post and want to clean more? Check out how to clean your dishwasher here.

Or learn how to clean your house after being sick.

On a major cleaning kick? You can see all of my cleaning tips and tutorials in this collection.

Want To Skip The Cleaning And Just Buy New Utensils?

Here’s Some Of My Favorite Budget-Friendly Sets

Updated March 2019. Original post from October 2017.


  1. Thank you for this! We had a California COVID Christmas outdoors yesterday. As I was setting my tables on the patio the sunshine on my 10 year old flatware showed just how sorry/worn/spotty it looked. I was mortified but it was too late to fix. This morning I was ready to invest in a whole new set. I saw your post and thought I would give it a shot before spending a few hundred dollars for a new service. Wow! What a difference. I need to remember to do this a couple of times a year to keep it looking nice and preventing buildup from our hard water. Thanks again!

    • You’re so welcome, Kristy! We’ve had the exact moment you described too, and we’re glad you could keep the holidays on track without a last-minute silverware run to “make it nice!”

  2. Beverly Petty

    This worked so well! I’m so happy to have beautiful cutlery again. Thank you.

  3. Jason R Henry

    I was given my deceased Grandmother’s 60 yr old set that had a bunch of grime built up in the crevices of the decorations. This method, along with scrubbing each individual piece with a toothbrush, in the water mixture has made this set come out looking brand new! Thanks for the tip! One extra thing I did was add a squirt of Dawn to the mix because some of these were so bad.

    • I am SO happy you took the time to comment! I’m so glad it worked well for you, and what a special set to be given. I bet it looks great now!

  4. Very good tip to help clean the cutlery, thank you for sharing

    • Lela Burris

      Hi Dilmar, thank you so much! I’m so glad you found the tips to be helpful. I actually just cleaned my flatware again this week and it worked out perfectly. 🙂

  5. Joan Sommerfield

    Is this for stainless as well as silver?
    You did a great job explaining the procedure.

    • Lela Burris

      Yes! It works great for stainless. I wouldn’t try it on black matte flatware, but stainless is a definite yes. 🙂

  6. I actually enjoyed this post. You describe this subject matter very well. I clearly enjoy analyzing your blog and I will sincerely bookmark it! Keep up the interesting posts!

  7. Great tips, aspecially for single men 😀

  8. Lela, thank you for the great tips!
    I’ll definitely try this 🙂

  9. To have a healthy environment in the house, it’s essential to have a clean kitchen including the cutlery. These tips are really beneficial for good health and sanitation. Thanks!!!

    • Thanks so much Adriana, you’re so right. Most people just assume the dishwasher takes care of keeping utensils sanitized, but every once in a while they need a good deep clean.

  10. Thank you for this! My silverware has been looking frustratingly foggy lately.

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