Cleaning Antique Silverware

by Bonnie Roberts
(last updated November 12, 2012)

Company's coming, and that fine silverware that's been handed down in your family for generations is sure to impress. It probably doesn't look as great as it could, though. Silver needs to be cleaned and polished regularly to keep tarnish away and pump up the shine. When properly maintained, your antique silverware will surely add a beautiful and elegant touch to your table setting.

Before going into what you should do, I'll warn you about the things you shouldn't do. Some of these things can permanently damage your silver or make cleaning it more frequent and difficult:

  • Never use any kind of abrasive to clean your silverware, as the delicate metal is easily scratched. Don't use brushes either, unless they are exceptionally soft.
  • Don't put your silverware in the dishwasher. Some people think it's because of the high temperature of the water. It's actually because of the harsh type of soap used in dishwashers, which can be abrasive and may create brown spots on your silverware.
  • Don't let your silverware come into contact with stainless steel.
  • Don't leave your silverware exposed in the air for long periods of time.

After eating sulfurous or acidic foods, clean the silverware immediately, because they can turn silverware black. Examples of these types of food are eggs, tomatoes, vinegar, peas, and onions.

Here's how to routinely clean and polish your silverware. You will need:

  • Hot water
  • Mild liquid dish soap
  • Several cotton cloths
  • Silver polishing paste (make sure the label says it's specifically for silver)
  • Towel

With all your materials in place, follow these steps:

  1. If your silverware has just been used, wash it gently in a sink full of hot soapy water. If it has been in storage, just rinse it in hot water to get the dust off.
  2. Rub the silver paste on each piece, one at a time, with a cloth or soft foam sponge.
  3. Rinse well with a lot of hot water, being sure to remove every trace of silver paste.
  4. Dry the piece well and place on a towel. You might be tempted to let it air dry or dry all the pieces at once, but this will dull the surface of the metal and may leave spots.
  5. To turn up the shine, once all your silverware is clean, buff each one by gently rubbing with a soft cloth. While you do this, make sure the piece is completely dry, especially if you plan to store it for a while.

Repeat this process a couple of times a year or as needed. Now your antique silverware set is truly a thing of beauty that will last several more generations to come.

Author Bio

Bonnie Roberts

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