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How to Clean and Polish Silver




By Louisa Price


Silver, an affordable and beautiful metal, is often passed down from generation to generation as priceless reminders of family’s heritage and history. Whether you inherited them from a precious family member or received as wedding gifts long ago, with careful cleaning and polishing, these intricately decorated silver pieces are meant to last for years.



Cleaning, Polishing and Caring for Silver at Home

Tarnishing occurs when hydrogen sulphide in the environment reacts with the surface of your silver. When you see a light yellow discoloration of silver, you know it is high time to treat it before it starts to brown darker.


To thoroughly clean silver cutlery, I use this simple fuss free cleaning solution recipe that can be easily concocted with these two very common kitchen ingredients – salt and baking soda. The steps are pretty straight forward but you have to do this in a well ventilated room as the odour can be quite unpleasant.



How to Make Homemade Silver Dip

Find a receptacle large enough for the items you intend to clean. You can use your kitchen sink but make sure it is clean, free of grease and grime.


Line the bottom with a piece of aluminium foil. Fill it up with steaming hot water (about a liter or so). Then, mix to dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl. Now, add this solution to the bath. Take note that the mixture may froth a bit and spill over.


Dip your silver items slowly, ensuring that they are completely immersed and touch the aluminium foil. The tarnish leaches onto the foil quite easily.


For stubborn stains, allow them to soak for a good 5 to 10 mintues. There is a chemical reaction between the aluminium metal and the tarnish (which is silver sulphate) while table salts acts as a electrolyte to allow such reactions to happen.


Remove from water and rinse well. Dry and store properly.


Here’s one very helpful tip – instead of using camphor, add small pieces of chalk in the drawer where you keep your silver cutlery.


Also, most people make the mistake of polishing silver in circular motions. What you should be doing is to polish in a straight, back and forth direction. Excessive polishing can wear down finish so take care not to over do it.


Always hand wash without wearing rubber gloves and don’t leave them on rubber mats to dry.  Rubber is corrosive and reacts adversely with silver.


Apart from making a silver dip, you can clean your silver cutlery using plain white tooth paste without any special whitening agents. Take a soft dampened cloth and put some toothpaste on it. Rub gently. Rinse in with warm water, dry and buff with a mirco friendly cloth.


If you consider using commercial dips, bear in mind to avoid cleaning products with ammonia as they often ruin the outer layers of your precious silver.


It requires a little more diligence to keep silver wares looking lustrous and sparkling new. Take good care of your silver items so that you can keep passing your priceless inheritance down.

how to clean and polish silver

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