o you want for your home to look more polished? Brush up on your silver polishing skills. Silver polishing seems like a fad of the past. In The Help, characters designated an entire day to it calling it--silver polishing day. That is the origin of my stigma towards silver polishing and the fact that I have never done it with intention. Apartment Therapy even claims that neglecting to clean your silver can ruin your tablescape and you do not want that! Pay extra attention to how your table set up looks by adding in a silver cleaning regimen.

Within the home, people seldom pay attention to their silver. Actually, polishing the silver is often on the chores list that you often forget until it is very tarnished or it may not even make it to the agenda at all. That is normal, but that should change. Remember that silver polishing is important to create a nice dining room table spread for guests, insure the longevity of your silver tools, preserve antique silvers for decoration, and initiate a step in the right direction towards adulthood. Let them shine, sparkle, and add to the dining experience.

Maybe these ideas were ingrained in you by your mother to maintain cleanliness and impress your dining room guests. When dining room guests came over to my house, we, the children, were tasked with setting the table, laying out the silver cutlery, fixating on the proper position of the centerpiece, and rearranging the chairs and leaf in the table to fit everyone. If you had a similar experience growing up or a different one, we provide many reasons and tips to polish your silver. In this article we offer the following to help you in all your silver polishing qualms:

  • Why You Should Polish your Silver: Benefits of Cleaning Your Silver
  • Conservators’ Perspectives on Silver Polishing: Helpful Tips and Tricks to Preserve Decorative Art and Antiques
  • Store Bought Cleaners and Homemade Cleaners to Fight Against Oxidized Build Up
  • How to Abide By the Steps on How to Polish Silver Correctly
  • Encourage You to Polish Your Silver
Polish your eating utensils to sparkle like this image.
These utensils are underappreciated in the process of dining. Usually, the time you notice these instruments is when they are broken or very tarnished. Image courtesy of Christie’s.

Benefits of Polishing Silver

Proper Care of Dining Utensils Signals Great Home Maintenance

Don’t be embarrassed if this is your first time thinking about this or polishing silver. We will guide you through it and hold your hand through the written word. Let’s be “alloys” in this work because you’ve got this! First, we will provide the incentives for doing this work. Think of all the uses you have for silver. Once you create the mental list including jewelry, forks, spoons, knives, plates, and teapots, you may recognize that they look neglected by a layer of tarnish on them. This signals that you should start to polish your silver.

According to Southern Living, polishing silver is important 3-5 days for a fresh before use, but up to three weeks before using is good, as well. Not only will your silver become sparkly clean, but it is important to be a better steward of utensils that go into your mouth. By cleaning these instruments, you are less likely to ingest tarnish, you express warm hospitality, and become a better steward of your home items.

Before you start polishing, it may be a lengthy process, so make sure that you are ready. Wash your utensils after use. By being ready with all the polishing equipment, put on an audiobook, podcast, or great music playlist to get your mind to focus on the task at hand. Even have fun with it, equipt your playlist suited thematically to your task (i.e. Diamonds by Rihanna, Shine by Aminé, etc.) Another idea is that, if you have extra hands of friends or family, they can be apart of silver polishing day, too. Many hands will make it lighter work. While the dauntingness of this task is unavoidable, those activities are sure to get you through it.

Smiling conservator from the Winterthur museum polishing a silver object.
Conservators take great pride and joy in preserving the metal objects at museums. If you have special antiques, heirlooms, or just would like to take extra care of silvers, their tips are very helpful. Image courtesy of Winterthur Museum and Gardens.

Museum Conservators’ Perspective on Silver Cleaning

Cultivate a New Appreciation for Polishing Silver

Conservators make it their job to preserve silver and other materials. If you are polishing silver antiques there are many things to consider. While this may be a whole new level of cleaning for most of you, some of you have vintage silver that you set out for more elaborate dinner parties along with your great-grandma’s fine china. If your experience is more like mine, you have a cabinet of things that are mostly for display that are older, but you need to clean that silver once in a while, too.

According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, silver is prone to dirt, oxidation, and bruises, although most people think that silver is strong. They identify that the following materials can wear away at the silver: wood, wool, leather, textiles, rubber bands, newspaper, adhesives and even vegetables and egg by emitting sulphurous and acidic gases. By storing it correctly and cleaning it often, it can decrease the wear of it over time. In the cleaning process, a layer of the silver is taken off, if you want to preserve monograms, the best way is to guild it or take care of it very carefully. “To remove dirt, grease and old lacquer we use solvents on cotton wool swabs. To remove tarnish we apply a chemical cleaning solution with cotton wool and rinse it off with deionized water.”

After you cleanse it thoroughly, apply lacquer, repair it if it needs repairs, and store it properly. Lacquering allows the object to last 10 years before a serious deep cleaning. Therefore, these tactics to preserve silver, will make silver cleaning an easier task for yourself. Also, they are fortified to protect against the tarnishing of special items.

Tarnished set of luxury silverware and plates.
This beautiful dining set just needs love and tender care. Make sure that you care for your silvers by utilizing the wide array of options, store bought and DIY solvents, to clean your silver. Image courtesy of First Cry Parenting.

Store Bought and DIY Agents

Steps on Polishing Silver

There are many store bought cleansers and lacquers to use or do it by creating a homemade recipe. Examples of a store bought polish include Goddard's Foam, and Good Housekeeping Seal Star Weiman Silver Polish. Brand name cleaners work with the rubbing of the silver with foam sponges that come with the cleaner. First, wash the silver with water and then get in there with the cleaner and a sponge (make sure to use some elbow grease!). Apply the solvent in an up-and-down motion and turn the cloth so that you do not accidentally, put the tarnish back on the item, rise with water, and buff it with a dry cloth.

Guide to DIY Remedies

What does dish soap, baking soda, ketchup, foil, banana peels, and toothpaste all have in common? They are all natural and DIY silver cleaning remedies. If you do not have a store bought cleaner, there are other helpful cleansers right from your home. For a light film on the silver or silver that is dull, use dish soap and warm water. For heavier tarnishes make the concoction of three parts baking soda to one part water. This is sure to clean off your silver tarnish. If you really want to get fancy and are very caring about your silver, add on the optional step of putting the silver in anti-tarnish storage bags. Some people even use ketchup, aluminum foil, banana peels, and toothpaste claiming that one of these methods would do the trick. However, the best household items to use are dish soap, baking soda, and aluminum foil.

Tarnish of a set of silverware. Don't forget to polish your silver.
Since you learned all that information, do not neglect to observe silver polishing day. Set aside an afternoon, get the motivational music or podcast to play in the background, and put your newly found silver polishing knowledge to the test. Image courtesy of Today.

Hopefully You Won’t “Tarnish” Your Reputation as a Silver Polisher

Share Your Thoughts and Experiences

Now that you learned many ways to clean your silverware, plates, and this even applies to jewelry, tell us how you dazzle your guests with shining your silver and creating the perfect spread for enjoying a meal. Additionally, you taking the step to read this shows that you care about the items you bought. This is an important concept whether you are on the cusp of adulthood, a rookie, or a seasoned adult. Trust that this is something you do not want to get a silver medal in but a gold one.

Hero image courtesy of Love To Know.

Jul 22, 2020