How To Clean Silver

by optimist

Here's how to clean silver properly and easily.

Silver is a beautiful metal. It's prized for a number of uses, and many people covet silver jewelry or cutlery. However, once you've got some silver, keeping it clean can seem a bit intimidating. Silver gets tarnished easily, and it's just as easy to scratch.

However, it's actually quite simple to clean silver properly.

How To Clean Your Silver

The first step is to clean it regularly after use. Rinse it gently using a phosphate-free detergent before it develops any tarnishes or when it has only slight tarnishes.

If the tarnishes are more significant, use a commercial silver polish to clean it. Apply the polish using the provided soft sponge or a clean cloth. Never use abrasive brushes on silver. If you want to clean any crevices, use a natural boar-bristly brush, not a toothbrush made of plastic. When polishing silver, apply the polish in a straight, back-and-forth motion.

After you've polished it, rinse it clean with warm water and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Some More Tips For Cleaning Silver

Here are some more tips when it comes to cleaning silver:

  • If you'd like to clean some inexpensive silver, you can also use regular toothpaste to do so. Do not use whitening or gel toothpaste. However, stick to silver polish for your more expensive items.
  • I have heard of people storing silver in a bottle of 7-up. Apparently the acid in the liquid prevents tarnish from forming and does not damage the silver. However I wouldn't take this risk personally!
  • Never store silver in contact with plastic or rubber - for instance, one of the biggest mistakes people make is to tie cutlery together with a rubber band and put it all in an airtight plastic bag. The rubber and plastic will damage the silver.
  • Never use silverware to serve food containing eggs or mayonnaise, since this can damage the silver. In addition, never clean silver while wearing rubber gloves.
  • If you have silver salt and pepper shakers, always remove the salt and pepper after use, in order to prevent corrosion inside.
  • If your silver is extremely tarnished, you might consider using a silver dip or bath. However these dips are very corrosive, and if you must use one, it's best to let an expert do it. If the silver isn't too tarnished, it's a better idea to learn how to clean silver and do it yourself.

The key to keeping silver clean is to store it properly. Wrap each item in flannel, anti-tarnish paper or acid-free tissue. Then put everything in an airtight bag. You can keep a jar of silica gel nearby as well.

Updated: 03/19/2012, optimist
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