Sterling silver's cool shine looks fabulous with an array of outfits, but this pretty metal isn't without its pitfalls. This silver is softer than other metals, making it a prime target for scratches and tarnishing. If your silver starts to tarnish, you'll know it -- a dull brown patina creeps over the surface until the entire piece loses its once-lovely luster. Tarnishing is a natural process, but that doesn't mean you need to accept it. Fight back by keeping sterling silver clean and storing it away from shine-sapping chemicals.

Step 1

Wear your sterling silver jewelry regularly. Keeping it out of storage helps prevent tarnish from building up.

Step 2

Put your jewelry on after you've finished styling your hair or spraying yourself with perfume. If you put the jewelry on first, you may spray it with tarnish-causing chemicals.

Step 3

Wash dirty sterling silver with a cloth dipped in warm, soapy water. Carefully rub all surfaces of the silver. Rinse with clean water, then pat dry. Do not wear rubber gloves when washing silver; they can emit sulfurs that cause tarnishing.

Step 4

Remove sterling silver jewelry before using household chemicals and cleaners. These products can damage silver. Chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia and bleach are especially damaging.

Step 5

Keep sterling silver away from acidic foods, such as fruit juice, vinegar and olives. Acids are very damaging to silver.

Step 6

Store sterling silver in a tarnish-proof bag when you're not using it. Alternatively, wrap the item in acid-free paper, then store it in a sealed plastic bag. Avoid using regular tissue paper; it may release gasses and acids that damage silver. Do not store silver in a plastic bag without first wrapping it in protective paper.