Even professionals disagree on the best way to clean silver jewelry. Most agree that toothpaste is too abrasive, and tissues or paper towels can also scratch the surface. Also controversial is the use of commercially produced silver dip. If you leave silver jewelry in the dip for too long, it can cause irreparable pitting.
A silver dip purchased from the store is not necessary. Make your own with products you already have in your cupboards: baking soda and aluminum. The aluminum can be a disposable pie plate, or aluminum foil placed in a pan. Put your silver jewelry in the pan, then sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda over the jewelry. Pour two to three cups boiling water into the pan. The baking soda will bubble, and the combination of chemicals will lift away the grime in just a few minutes. For deep tarnish, a stronger cleaning dip can be made with the addition of a tablespoon each of salt and phosphate-free dish soap. After your pieces look sufficiently bright, rinse with plain water, then rub them dry with a soft cloth, such as a section of an old t-shirt. Wearing your silver jewelry frequently is one of the best ways to prevent tarnish, since your own skin will naturally buff the surface. Polish your jewelry before putting it away with a soft cloth to remove any oily residue. If you do not wear your silver jewelry frequently, store it in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag. Put a piece of chalk, or a strip of activated charcoal paper, in the container to absorb any humidity.