Sterling silver is a reactive metal, and tarnishes when exposed to air and moisture. The easiest way to prevent tarnish is by either wearing your silver (the oils on your skin help keep silver clean) and by storing in a dry, sealed place such as a plastic baggy or jewelry box with tarnish strips when not in use.
Polishing Cloths & Compounds:
The basic, bread-and-butter way to clean silver: a polishing cloths. In terms of polishing cloths, jewelers only use Sunshine Polishing Cloths. I'd never use any other brand, and you can easily find them here on Amazon. If you buy them in bulk they're great stocking stuffers!
For more intricate silver pieces where a polishing cloth can't reach, I use Jax Instant Silver. I usually pour a bit in a little bit in a plastic cup, drop the silver piece in, let it sit for a few seconds, then rinse off with water and dry with a soft dry cloth.
One of my favorite hobbies while procrastinating doing things I need to do is experimenting with new ways to clean jewelry. I've preached ketchup for brass and windex for gold as jewelry cleaners for a while, what about silver? But good news : there are two household products that work on heavily tarnished jewelry, one of which you already have or can find at your grocery store.
1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
If you've discovered the wonders of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, then you're in luck : they also clean jewelry. I tested it out on a pretty grimy looking earring that have a lot of nooks and crannies and it did a pretty great job. Here are my results :
BEFORE MAGIC ERASER AFTER MAGIC ERASER
Wet the Magic Eraser a little bit, rub the piece down as if it were a polishing cloth, rinse in some water, and voila!
Don't have a Magic Eraser? There's still hope for you to effectively productively procrastinate by cleaning your jewelry with household products.
2 : Toothpaste and a toothbrush!
Works just as well, if not better because it really gets into the nooks and crannies of wirework or chain. Make sure that you use smooth, non-grainy toothpaste that could scratch your piece's polished surface.
Here's the other half of the pair before cleaning with toothpaste next to the earring already cleaned with Magic Eraser :
Make sure to rinse well after brushing so there isn't any toothpaste residue that will fog up your piece!
Success! Below you can see the results of both toothpaste and Magic Eraser. Moral of the story : you CAN take progress shots without actually stepping foot in the gym. They're just a different type of progress shot. Consider all that scrubbing your workout.
LEFT : EARRINGS CLEANED WITH MAGIC ERASER RIGHT : EARRINGS CLEANED WITH A TOOTHBRUSH