Can I Wear Sterling Silver In The Pool?

Summer is finally here, and that means it's time to hit the pool! As you slip on your favorite swimsuit, grab a towel, and apply sunscreen, one question may pop into your mind - can I wear sterling silver in the pool

We've all heard the myth that chlorine can damage or even turn our precious silver pieces green. But is there any truth to this claim? 

In this blog post, we'll dive deep into the science behind wearing sterling silver in chlorinated water and debunk common myths. So before you take a dip with your shiny accessories on, let's find out if they can withstand some pool time fun.

What Is Sterling Silver Jewelry?

Sterling silver is a blend that primarily consists of silver combined with other metals to enhance its durability. The standard alloy mix constitutes 92.5% silver, and the remainder is often copper, though other metals like zinc can also be included.

This composition is where sterling silver gets its hallmark "925" stamp, signifying its purity level. This blend not only maintains the precious metal's lustrous appeal but also adds the necessary strength for crafting intricate and durable jewelry pieces.

Sterling Silver's affordability, coupled with its versatility across various jewelry designs - from sleek, contemporary pieces to more traditional styles - makes it a sought-after choice for fashion enthusiasts. Its ability to complement any skin tone and outfit adds a sophisticated flair to both casual and formal looks.

Some Causes Tarnish Your Sterling Silver

Sterling silver, while versatile and beautiful, is prone to tarnishing when exposed to certain elements. Here are some common factors that contribute to the tarnishing of sterling silver jewelry:

  • Exposure to Air and Moisture: Prolonged exposure to air and humidity can cause silver to oxidize, leading to a tarnished appearance.
  • Contact with Household Chemicals: Everyday chemicals, such as those found in cleaning products, perfumes, hairspray, and lotions, can accelerate tarnishing.
  • Body Oils and Sweat: The natural oils in your skin and sweat can react with the metal, causing silver to tarnish more quickly.
  • Chlorinated Water: Chlorine, especially in high concentrations like in pools and hot tubs, can severely tarnish sterling silver jewelry, even leading to corrosion.
  • Sulfur-Containing Substances: Foods like onions and eggs or materials like rubber and wool contain sulfur, which can tarnish silver upon contact.

Understanding these factors can help you take preventive measures to protect your sterling silver jewelry from unnecessary wear and tarnish.

Can I Wear Sterling Silver In The Pool?

The short answer to the question "Can I wear sterling silver in the pool?" is that it's not recommended to wear sterling silver in the pool.

The main culprit behind this advice is chlorine, a harsh chemical found in pool water. Chlorine can react with the silver and other metals in the sterling silver alloy, leading to tarnishing, corrosion, and even structural damage over time.

While occasional exposure might not cause immediate harm, regular exposure can significantly compromise the appearance and integrity of your sterling silver jewelry. Therefore, to maintain the beauty and longevity of your pieces, it's best to leave them safely out of the pool.

Some Immediate Signs Of Sterling Silver Damage After Swimming

If you've accidentally worn your sterling silver jewelry in the pool, there are a few immediate signs to look out for that indicate damage. Here are some key indicators:

  • Discoloration: One of the first signs of damage is a noticeable change in color. Your sterling silver pieces may appear dull, have a yellowish tint, or even turn black in certain areas.
  • Tarnishing: You may see a thin, dark layer forming on the surface of your jewelry, which is a clear sign of tarnish caused by chlorine exposure.
  • Pitting and Corrosion: Small pits or rough patches can develop on the surface of your jewelry, indicating that the metal is beginning to corrode.
  • Weakened Structure: The integrity of your jewelry might be compromised, leading to bends, breaks, or other structural damage more easily than before.
  • Increased Sensitivity to Skin: You might also notice that wearing the jewelry on your skin causes more irritation or that the metal feels rougher against your skin than usual.

Recognizing these signs early can help you take the necessary steps to restore your sterling silver jewelry and prevent further damage. Once identified, a professional cleaning and appropriate storage can help maintain the quality and appearance of your treasured pieces.

How To Clean Sterling Silver

When your sterling silver begins to lose its shine, don't fret—there are several effective methods to restore its gleam. For lighter tarnish, a polishing cloth designed for silver can make a quick difference without the risk of chemical reactions.

For more stubborn tarnish, consider these methods:

  • Soap and Water: This classic combination is gentle yet effective for polishing sterling silver. A mild soap with warm water can remove light tarnishes and dirt.
  • Baking Soda and White Vinegar: For tougher tarnishes, a solution of white vinegar mixed with baking soda can work wonders. Mix these ingredients in warm water and immerse your silver jewelry, watching the tarnish dissolve away.
  • Lemon Juice: The acidic properties of lemon juice make it an excellent choice for deep cleaning tarnished silver. Applying lemon juice can break down the tarnish, restoring the silver's original brightness.

Each of these methods provides a safe and effective way to care for your sterling silver jewelry, ensuring that it continues to shine brilliantly for years to come.

Why Is Water Suitable For Cleaning Sterling Silver, Yet It Is Advisable To Keep Sterling Silver Dry?

Water plays a dual role when it comes to sterling silver jewelry.

On one hand, it's an essential part of a gentle cleaning process that can help maintain the jewelry's shine and beauty. Using water, especially when mixed with a mild soap, can efficiently remove surface dirt and minor tarnishes without damaging the silver.

This method exploits the natural effectiveness of water as a solvent, dissolving unwanted residues that dull the jewelry's appearance.

On the other hand, allowing sterling silver to get wet and remain so for extended periods, especially in environments with chlorine (like swimming pools) or sulfur compounds (which can be found in tap water), can be detrimental to its condition.

When sterling silver is persistently exposed to such conditions, the water can act as a catalyst, speeding up the chemical reactions that lead to tarnishing and, in extreme cases, corrosion.

This is why, although it’s safe to clean sterling silver with water, it’s crucial to thoroughly dry the pieces afterward and avoid prolonged exposure to harsh or chemically treated water.

How Can You Take Care Of Sterling Silver Jewelry?

To ensure that your sterling silver jewelry maintains its shine and longevity, here are some invaluable daily wearing tips:

  • Remove Jewelry During Tasks: When performing household tasks, remove your sterling silver jewelry to prevent exposure to potentially harmful chemicals found in cleaning agents and gardening chemicals.
  • Apply Cosmetics Before Wearing: Lotions, perfumes, hairspray, and other cosmetics contain chemicals that may tarnish silver. Apply these products before putting on your jewelry.
  • Avoid Wearing in Water: Always take off sterling silver jewelry before swimming or engaging in activities where it will be exposed to chlorinated or saltwater.
  • Wipe After Wearing: Using a soft, lint-free cloth, gently wipe your jewelry clean of any body oils or sweat before storing it away. This practice minimizes tarnish and maintains the shine.

It’s also crucial to store it properly when not in use. Here are some effective storage tips to prevent tarnish and protect the jewelry’s surface:

  • Store Silver in an Airtight Container: To prevent tarnish caused by exposure to air and moisture, store your sterling silver in airtight bags or containers.
  • Keep Pieces Separate: Store your jewelry in a way that minimizes contact between pieces to avoid scratches. Using individual soft cloth pouches or compartments in a jewelry box can be effective.
  • Use Anti-Tarnish Strips: Placing anti-tarnish strips in your storage container can help absorb pollutants in the air that may cause tarnishing, keeping your jewelry lustrous for longer.
  • Maintain a Low-Humidity Environment: Keeping your storage area as free from humidity as possible will slow down the tarnishing process. Silica gel packs can be added to your jewelry storage area to control moisture.

By adhering to these daily wearing and storage tips, your sterling silver jewelry can remain beautiful, shiny, and free from tarnish for many years to come.


In conclusion, while the allure of showcasing your sterling silver jewelry poolside may be tempting, the answer to "Can I wear sterling silver in the pool?" is clear—it's best avoided. Chlorine and other harsh chemicals present in pool water can tarnish and damage sterling silver over time.

However, with proper care, cleaning, and storage, your sterling silver can continue to sparkle and shine for years. By following the guidelines provided, from removing jewelry during certain activities to employing specific cleaning and storage methods, you can enjoy the beauty of your sterling silver without compromising its quality.