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How Do You Clean Sterling Silverware?

When you have fine silverware, it’s important to do regular cleaning to keep it nice and shiny. Whether you acquired an old family heirloom or recently purchased your silver, there are many ways to remove tarnish that develops. Follow these techniques to clean your sterling silverware.

The Importance of Taking Care of Sterling Silverware

Sterling silverware is a perfect way to add a delicate touch to an elegant dinner party or other special events. Unlike the regular silverware you use daily, sterling silverware needs special care. Washing it isn’t as easy as tossing it in the dishwasher and having it look shiny. Sterling silver requires regular polishing to remove any tarnish and keep it looking new again. This extra labor is why many people only choose to use their sterling silverware occasionally. 

What Is Tarnish?

Tarnish is a layer of corrosion that can form over real silver and other precious metals. Hydrogen sulfide is what causes silver to tarnish, although it can also happen from oxygen over a long period of time. When your sterling silverware beings to tarnish, it will look dull with gray and black spots on it. 

How Do You Clean Tarnished Silverware 

How do you Clean Sterling Silverware?

Image via Flickr by williamrouse

There are many techniques to get your sterling silverware looking new again. One technique you should avoid is running your sterling silverware through the dishwasher. Since it’s made from precious metals, it will tarnish and look dull out of the dishwasher. 

After using your sterling silverware to eat, wash it in some warm water and mild dish soap. Avoid soap with lemon or critic acid in it. It’s best to play it safe and find soap without any perfumes or dyes. The key is to put a little elbow grease into your cleaning technique to get off any black spots from tarnishing. Make sure to wash your silverware in a plastic dish tub rather than a sterling silver sink. If you do the latter, the metals may have an odd reaction and leave behind black spots.

What’s the Best Home Remedy for Cleaning Silverware?

If soap and water don’t do the trick to remove tarnish, there are many different home remedies you can use to clean your sterling silverware. You can find many cleaning ingredients right in your pantry or bathroom cabinet. Give these simple techniques a try:

  • Toothpaste: Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste into a rag and begin to polish your silverware. After thoroughly polishing, give it a good rinse and admire the shine. 
  • Vinegar: You may be familiar with using vinegar to clean floors, but you should also know it’s an excellent way to remove tarnish on sterling silverware. Simply soak your silverware in 1/2 cup of white vinegar mixed with two tablespoons of baking soda for a couple of hours. Afterward, rinse it under cold water and dry. 
  • Window cleaner: Spray your window cleaner on a rag or toothbrush and use it to scrub your silverware. Afterward, clean it with soap and water to get any of the cleaner off. 
  • Ketchup: Squirt some ketchup on a paper towel and gently rub it over any tarnished spots. If you notice the tarnish sticks, leave the ketchup on it for 15 minutes and try cleaning again and then rinse it clean. 
  • Cornstarch: Make a thick paste out of corn starch and water. Coat it over your sterling silver and let it sit until it dries. Then, use a rough cloth to rub it off. Be sure to thoroughly rinse afterward. 

Of course, you can also buy a polish specifically designed to clean silver tarnish. When using this store-bought cleaner, always use gloves to protect your skin. Cleaning in a well-ventilated room with a facemask on can help you prevent breathing in any harsh chemicals or fumes. 

How to Prevent Tarnishing

In order to properly care for your silverware and make cleaning easier, try to avoid any tarnishing in the first place. Follow these simple techniques to help your silverware stay shiny and new-looking:

  • Chalk: Since moisture causes tarnishing, store your sterling silverware with a few pieces of chalk. They will soak up any moisture and keep your silverware looking great.
  • Hair conditioner: Rubbing conditioner on clean silver and then rinsing it off is a simple way to prevent tarnishing.
  • Avoid acids and sulfurs: Lemon juice, eggs, and mustard are all tarnish-causing foods. It’s best to rinse your sterling silverware off immediately after eating these foods or avoid them entirely. 

Tips for Caring for Your Sterling Silverware

When owning sterling silverware, there are a few things you need to know to properly care for it. Follow these tips to keep your precious silver looking nice:

  • Avoid hydrogen peroxide. Although hydrogen peroxide is an excellent cleaner for toothbrushes or dentures, never use it to clean your sterling silverware. The reaction between the hydrogen peroxide and silver may leave your sterling silverware looking black and tarnished. 
  • Be gentle with it. Another thing to keep in mind with genuine silver is that it’s a soft material. Never throw your sterling silverware into a drawer or sink. Instead, place it down gently and handle it with care. 
  • Store it in dry places. If you have antique silverware, you may be tempted to store it away in your attic. This could damage your sterling silverware since attics tend to get hot and humid. Instead, store it in a hutch or china cabinet that’s in a dry area of your home. You can also keep the sterling silverware in an airtight box to prevent moisture from leaking in. 
  • Properly wrap it. Wrapping it in newspaper may seem like a good idea, but the ink from the paper can react with your silver. Likewise, a rubber band around your sterling silverware can eat away at the metal. Instead, wrap it in dry flannel to prevent any chemical reactions.

If you have extra sterling silverware lying around, visit our shop to get an appraisal. We are the #1 Las Vegas sterling silver buyers and would love to give you a fair deal on your antique and modern sterling silver flatware and table items.

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