Cleaning Sterling Silver Flatware

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Sterling silver flatware is a beautiful and timeless addition to any dining set, but it requires regular care and maintenance to keep it looking its best. Over time, silverware can become tarnished and dull, and it may even start to develop rust or other forms of damage. This blog post will discuss cleaning and maintaining your precious flatware to restore its shine and beauty.

Why Does Sterling Silver Tarnish?

Tarnish results from the natural process that occurs when silver is exposed to air and moisture. This process causes a chemical reaction that results in a dark, dull layer forming on the surface of the silver. While tarnish doesn't necessarily harm the silver, it does detract from its appearance and can make it look dirty and unkempt.

Ways to Clean Sterling Silver Flatware

Of course, we want our sterling silver to always look its best. Fortunately, we can combat inevitable tarnish with a few different methods that can be used to clean sterling silver flatware. The one you choose will depend on how dirty and tarnished your silverware is.

Silver Polish

A silver polish is one of the most common ways to clean sterling silver flatware. There are several brands on the market, with most containing a combination of abrasive compounds and chemical cleaners that work together to break down and remove tarnishing.

To use silver polish:

  • Apply a small amount of the polish to a soft cloth.
  • Rub the cloth over the tarnished areas of the silver, applying gentle pressure to remove the tarnish.
  • Once you've removed the tarnish, rinse the silver with water and dry it with a clean, soft fabric.

When working with commercial silver polish, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area, as some silver polishes can produce fumes that can be harmful if inhaled.

Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil

Using baking soda and aluminum foil together is another good way to clean sterling silver flatware. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can help remove tarnish, while aluminum foil helps to transfer the tarnish from the silver to the foil.

To use this method:
  • Start by lining a baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
  • Fill the container with hot water and add a tablespoon of baking soda for every quart of water.
  • Stir the mixture until the baking soda is dissolved.
  • Place the tarnished sterling silver flatware in the dish, ensuring each piece touches the foil.
  • Leave the silver in the mixture for a few minutes or until the tarnish is removed.
  • Remove the silver from the mix, rinse it with water, and dry it with a soft cloth.

White Vinegar and Baking Soda

White vinegar and baking soda are everyday household items used to clean sterling silver cutlery. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which can help dissolve tarnish, while baking soda is a mild abrasive that can help remove it.

To use this method:
  1. Start by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl or dish.
  2. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the mixture and stir until it's dissolved.
  3. Place the tarnished sterling silver flatware in the mixture and let it soak for a few minutes or until the tarnish is removed.
  4. Once the tarnish is gone, remove the silver from the mixture, rinse it with water, and dry it with a soft cloth.

No matter your method, you should be gentle and use the right tools to clean sterling silver flatware. Whether you use a commercial silver polish, baking soda and aluminum foil, white vinegar and baking soda, or another home remedy you've discovered, regular cleaning ensures your sterling silver flatware can remain a beautiful and valuable addition to your home for years to come.

Other Tips for Maintaining Your Sterling Silver Flatware

Because sterling silver can be quite an investment, you want to be sure you keep it in the best possible condition. First and foremost, store your silverware in a dry place and in a way that prevents it from being scratched or tarnished. Use a drawstring silver cloth bag or a flatware storage chest lined with a soft cloth for best results, and be sure to keep your silver in a dry location in your home.

A few other tips for maintaining your flatware include:
  • Use your sterling silver cutlery regularly to prevent tarnishing. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you use your silverware, the less time it will have to sit and accumulate tarnish.
  • Don't use harsh chemicals or abrasive materials to clean your sterling silver flatware. Harsh chemicals can damage the surface, while abrasive materials can scratch the surface.
  • Refrain from storing your silverware in plastic containers or airtight bags. These containers trap humidity, which can cause your silver to tarnish faster.

Consign Sterling Silver Flatware at Around the Block

Sterling silver flatware is beautiful, but it does take effort to maintain. If are tired of cleaning sterling silver cutlery or just interested in selling your set, why not consider consigning with Around the Block?

For over 12 years, we've worked with people in the greater Toronto area to get the best value for their sterling silver flatware, tableware,  candlesticks, or a tea and coffee serving set. Our experts can help you assess the items' value. If you are a collector of fine sterling silver pieces, check out our ever-changing collection online or in our showroom.

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