How to

How to clean silver

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Stainless flatware, although truly handsome, cannot replace the look and feel of silver - follow these steps to enjoy silver's unique sparkle
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Check out these sparkling solutions for a beautiful table.

Silver polishing is easy when you're prepared. Follow some simple advice and you'll soon enjoy sparkling silver.


Shiny Silver


Nothing else makes an occasion seem so festive as the glow and shimmer of polished silver. Stainless flatware, although truly handsome, cannot replace the look and feel of silver. It's probably that unique sparkle that makes silver party decorations seem so special.

In many families, polishing silver together provides a unique time to tell family stories and share other happy times. The intricate detail on your great grandmother's gravy boat seems less demanding when accompanied by the story of her first attempt to make gravy.


Silver Polish


Silver is best polished with silver polish. Polishes for brass or copper or those that advertise as able to polish all kinds of metal are not suitable for silver. The abrasives they contain work well on harder metals but can permanently scratch and dull silver.


What You Need


  • Newspapers or other protection of your work surface
  • Silver polish
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old dish or saucer
  • Cotton rags or sponges
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Cotton ear swabs
  • Oven mitts if you choose to dip large silver objects


Steps to Shine Silver


  1. Wash and dry the silver.
  2. Apply a thin coat of polish with rag or sponge and let dry.
  3. Using clean rags or paper towels, rub off the polish. Cotton swabs can help remove polish that has accumulated in ornate details and are useful between fork tines.
  4. If knives have stainless-steel blades, do not polish them and rub gently where blade joins handle so as not to loosen the joint. If you cannot be sure whether blades are silver-plate or stainless steel, silver-plated blades usually have a rounded ends; stainless blades taper toward the end.
  5. Larger pieces of silver such as bowls or coffee pots are polished the same way.
  6. When you have rubbed off all the dried polish, wash and dry the silver and you're done.


Other Products


Other products claim to clean silver by just dipping them into a solution. Critics would point out that every dipping probably removes a small amount of silver. Read the ingredients carefully if you wish to try these. And make sure your work area is well-ventilated. Those who defend quick-cleaning dips point out that polishing surely also removes a small amount of silver.


Homemade Dipping Solution


A homemade dipping solution at least has the advantage of using fairly innocuous ingredients. How to clean silver with this solution:


  1. Fill a large aluminum pot half full of water. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat and gently put the silver into the water.
  3. Add one-half-cup baking soda to the water.
  4. Let silver sit for five minutes.
  5. Using tongs carefully remove a piece to test. Leave the silver in for five more minutes if not completely tarnish-free.


For Larger Pieces

  1. Place a dish towel in the bottom as soon as the water boils and you turn off the heat. This will cushion the handles, spouts or other ornate elements.
  2. Using oven gloves, hold your object in place for five minutes if necessary.
  3. Boil fresh water and immerse the remaining tarnished area of your object. Do not attempt to match half-to-half exactly; that will produce a line that needs to be rubbed out with silver polish.
  4. Since it is unclear exactly what chemical reaction is occurring during this old-fashioned short cut, be sure to wash your silver thoroughly after dipping it.

Your table will sparkle and shine. Enjoy your party!

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