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Cleaning many tiny beads

Good evening,

I am working on costume jewelry project and have literally thousands
of 2-4mm silver plated beads that have light to moderate tarnish.
Any suggestions for cleaning them in batches would be most

Best Regards,
Mike Gaines
Michael A. Gaines Distinctive Jewelry

Hi Mike,

Are they loose or attached to something? If they are loose, running
them through a sonic jewelry cleaner might be your best bet. Because
they are plated, test out a batch first. You can use a weak cleaning
solution and a drop or two of dish detergent. And do lay them out on
a paper towel to dry. It’s best if you also put them on a paper
towel, put the towel in a baggie, then swing them around a couple of
times to get the water out of the holes.


Try cleaning your beads by lining a bowl with aluminum foil (I am
told it should be shinny side up, I never checked to see if it makes
a difference) then dissolve Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda in hot
water. Put in your silver, swish around, the silver must come in
contact with the foil. Your silver will get shinny, your foil will
get yucky (technical term). Rinse your silver in clear water and
dry. You might have seen the infomercials that offer a similar set up
for only $20 plus shipping!

Use Hagerty’s liquid silver cleaner (about $3 retail) Put the beads
in the basket that comes with the jar. Place the basket into the jar
and swish for aprox 5 seconds, and then rinse. Practically magic!
The basket will hold many beads at a time. Then blow dry with a
hairdrier for speedy drying, or lay out on a towel for slow dry.

Ed in Kokomo

Here is what I like to do when I am cleaning silver.

Take an aluminum coffee bag (Most vacum packed coffee comes in a
printed bag made of thin aluminum), and rinse it well. Check inside
to see if it is silver colored.

Add a cup of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt (+/-).

Add a bunch of your beads or a necklace etc,.

Fold top of bag and shake well for a short while.

pour content into a bowl with a strainer (to catch your bead).

The tarnish should be gone on all the beads now.

If it does not do a great job try heating the vinegar/salt slightly
before adding the silver again. (Don’t put a coffee bag in the

This is also a great tip for those who have silver displays or lots
of silver at home and have to do a quick tarnish removal. Takes very
little time, is not caustic and the materials are cheap and readily
available even on the road…

Variation: lay some sheet aluminum in a glass baking dish. Add
vinegar salt mixture to cover larger peices and cutlery etc,.


I have had good results in using a rock tumbler with a thick paste of
baking soda and water. Put the strung necklace in and tumble and
check every 15 minutes. Works great for liquid silver, too.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Peter !!

I have tried your suggested combo of vinegar, salt and coffee bag,
and it works!! “Really well” thank you soooooooo much, you have made
life so much easier for me. I didn’t just add the odd bead and piece
of silver, I added whole necklaces of intricate beading, and Pazzzz
am!! they where tarnish free. Usually I have to replace findings when
they tarnish, its just impossible to polish thousands of head and
eye pins when they are in the mix of a beading tapestry of sorts.

So “thank you " thank you” and once again “thank you”

Yours very sincerely
Tina Ashmore
Dublin, Ireland