Silver is a versatile metal used to create things like beautiful jewelry or unique serving ware. If you have silverware and silver serving pieces, odds are you don’t use them often — usually, such dinnerware is stored or displayed somewhere and used occasionally. No matter how much action your silver gets, it will tarnish eventually due to exposure to air and light. Don’t panic if you get out the silver you got for your wedding and it is dingy and discolored. We have some great ways for you to restore your silver to its former shine from the comfort of your kitchen. Check out how to clean silver below, including what we think is the best way to clean silver.
Routinely washing your silver pieces may not seem like a task you want to add to your regular cleaning list. However, a quick wash in warm, soapy water can prevent excessive tarnish and save you some work in the long run. Gently washing, rinsing, and buffing the items dry before storing them in a cool, dry place will help delay the tarnish process.
How to clean silver
You can clean your silver with a simple solution made of ingredients you probably already have on hand. Using a combination of baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil, you can achieve a like-new shine on both large and small silver pieces. You’ll need a soft cloth, kosher salt, baking soda, a large pan or pot, aluminum foil, and boiling water to get started.
For small pieces like jewelry and silverware, line a pot with aluminum foil and be sure the foil covers the entire surface. Fill the pan with boiling water, add ¼ cup baking soda and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the water, and stir. Stirring should cause bubbles to form. Place your silver in the solution and mix gently, taking care to ensure the pieces don’t smash into each other or the sides of the pan. Let sit for up to five minutes, remove the pieces, and dry completely with a soft cloth.
The process for large silver items is very similar to the process for small things, but you’ll use your kitchen sink as a vessel for cleaning items such as trays and serving dishes. First, line your sink with foil making sure to cover the entire surface. Pour boiling water into the sink, ensuring all of your silver items are fully submerged. Add 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of salt to the water and stir to form bubbles. Place your pieces into the solution and allow to soak for up to 30 minutes. Remove items when cool, and dry them with a soft towel.
Our additional tips
You can also add white vinegar to the above mixture for especially-tarnished pieces. The addition of white vinegar is a good method for silverware, and we think it’s the best way to clean silver in general.
The methods outlined here won’t work for silver-plated items such as necklaces or rings since these pieces only have silver plating over the surface of another metal. Submerging them into a liquid solution may cause them to flake. As for antique silver items that are valuable either monetarily or sentimentally, you should consult an antique dealer before trying any home methods.
The natural cleaning methods above will clean your silver, but if you want that glorious sparkle, you may have to try a commercial silver polish. Be sure to choose a polish specifically manufactured to clean sterling silver, as some products are formulated for specific applications, such as Hagerty Silversmith’s Silver Polish. For polishing silver-plated items, check out Wright’s Silver Cleaner since it is specially designed to use on all silver — jewelry, flatware, silver-plated, and more.
Now that you know how to maintain, clean, and polish your silver, nothing is stopping you from breaking it out and showing it off. Who says you can’t use your silver candlesticks for lunch on a Tuesday?
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