Setting the table with Grandmas's heirloom silverware brings that warm and fuzzy family feeling to gatherings, but it can also bring lots of tarnish and elbow grease if those forks, knives, and tongs aren't used very often. Whether you have silver jewelry, silver platters, or silver candlesticks, knowing how to polish silver is a life skill.
The best way to clean silver is the kind of knowledge that's passed down from generation to generation. Everyone has there tried and true method. Some may be more effective than others so always proceed with caution if you have a particularly valuable or sentimental item.
A safe way to clean silver is simply with dish soap and water. Starting with the most gentle method, like warm soapy water, is best. As tempting as it might be to scrub away that discoloration that comes with tarnish, restrain yourself. Make up a soapy water solution in a plastic or ceramic bowl and, using a microfiber cloth, start rubbing the piece of silver. Rinse under cold water and repeat if necessary. This cleaning tip probably won't help the really far gone pieces of tarnished silver you have, but it's a good starting point.
If you have a drawer full of flatware and company is coming in a few hours, try the aluminum foil, boiling hot water, and baking soda method. Line a big bowl or deep sided pan with the foil. Fill the your foil lined container with boiling water and baking soda. The ratio is one tablespoon of baking soda per one cup of water.
Add your silver items, making sure they're all making contact with the aluminum foil to get the chemical reaction going. The tarnish should start to dissolve between two and ten minutes. Dry and buff your household items with a soft cloth. For really tarnished pieces with lots of crevices, you may have to repeat this method of cleaning silver and gently rub with a very soft toothbrush.
Powdered laundry detergent can be used instead of baking soda. Same ratio (one tablespoon to one cup water) and same method except take your items out after two minutes and check to see if the tarnishing is less noticeable. Air dry or buff with a soft cloth or paper towel.
Toothpaste can be used for cleaning silver candlesticks. Put a little dab of toothpaste (not the gel type) on a microfiber cloth and rub until the tarnish budges. Use a tartar control toothpaste since the active silica ingredient helps with cleaning and polishing silver in commercial silver cleaners. Rinse with warm water and dry.
Did you stockpile hand sanitizer during 2020? Are you just a germaphobe whether a global pandemic is in effect or not? Well, then you most likely have hand sanitizer in every room of your home. Put a few drops onto a soft cloth and start rubbing at the tarnish.
Here's one your kids will enjoy. Soak your silver pieces in a bowl of lemon-lime flavored soda! Leave them in for at least an hour. Rinse well and dry.
Ammonia may not smell good but it will remove tarnish when you soak your cutlery in a mixture one cup warm water to one half cup of ammonia for about ten minutes. You can also use a spritz of Windex on a cloth if you don't want the stink of full strength ammonia.
A mixture of white vinegar, baking soda, and water is a great DIY cleaning method for sterling silver. Mix one half cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons baking soda, and one cup of warm water. Let your silver soak in this solution for three hours and rinse.
Anti-Tarnish Tricks To Store Silver
Tarnish can't be totally prevented, but it can be slowed down. Amazon sells anti-tarnish bags for storage. No more trying to find a small child who thinks polishing silver is fun.
You can also individually wrap silver pieces in tissue paper or unbleached cotton muslin. Then store the wrapped pieces in an air-tight plastic bag.
If you don't have the patience for all that rolling and wrapping, here's a mysterious anti-tarnish trick. Put a few pieces of regular white chalk amongst the silver pieces in the drawer or box. The chalk will help keep the tarnish at bay a little longer.