Polishing Silver

by April Reinhardt
(last updated August 4, 2014)


If you have a television in your home, then you've undoubtedly seen commercials touting products that instantly remove tarnish from silver simply by dipping them in the product for a few seconds. Unfortunately, as with most products that seem too good to be true, those tarnish-removing dips not only remove tarnish from your silver, they actually irreversibly damage the precious metal.

But do not despair. Long gone are the days when Grandma spent hours polishing her silver, resulting in gnarled knuckles. Today there are products recommended by silversmiths and jewelers that gently clean your silver in a short amount of time, while preserving the integrity of the metal, as well as your hands. Never use rubber gloves when cleaning your silver, as rubber corrodes silver. Purchase a silver cleaner that will not harm your skin, and follow these directions to shine your silver to brilliance:

  1. Purchase a good quality silver-cleaning product, such as Twinkle Silver Cream, Wright's Silver Cream, and products by the Hagerty Company.
  2. Always read and follow the directions on the product you purchase.
  3. Place clean bath towels onto your kitchen counter.
  4. Assemble all of your silver pieces at your kitchen sink.
  5. Wash and rinse all of your silver. While the pieces are still warm from the hot water, apply the silver-cleaning product per the directions.
  6. Rub each piece until the tarnish disappears.
  7. Immediately rinse the piece and set it on the bath towel. Immediately take a soft cloth and thoroughly dry each piece as you rinse it to avoid water marks.
  8. Use Q-Tips to dry tiny crevices and joints.
  9. Do not allow the product to linger on your skin, and work quickly.
  10. To avoid surface scratches, do not allow the pieces to knock about each other in the sink. Wash pieces separately.
  11. Store cleaned pieces in flannel.

Wash and polish your silver at least four times each year to maintain its shine. Polish your silver in early November for the upcoming holiday season. For an aged look, leave some of the tarnish in scrollwork and crevices. Some foods can be corrosive to silver. In particular, eggs, salt, fruits, mayonnaise, vinegar, and onions are all harmful to silver, so take care to wash away traces of those foods immediately.

Never wash stainless steel and sterling silver in the same sink. When they contact each other, a chemical reaction can occur resulting in black spots on the sterling. While it is okay to wash silver in your dishwasher, remove it when the rinse cycle is finished so that you can immediately dry it to avoid water stains. Also, there may be caustic food residue left behind in your dishwasher and it may cause damage to silver.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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What is four less than 8?

2014-08-04 17:10:12

sandy verner

Another method for heavily tarnished silver is to line a plastic tub with aluminum foil, fill with hot water and pour in washing baking soda. This will loosen the tarnish making the polishing a snap.

2014-08-04 05:26:31

Kathy Love

One word of caution about silver in the dishwasher: if you have silver objects that were made in more than one piece (a candle-holder with a base and a column, say, or a jug with a handle) it is best not to put them in the dishwasher as the heat and moisture may loosen the joints holding the different parts together.

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