It is a delight to collect a work of art that can be used as part of everyday life. Silver for your table is ideal in this regard. Elegant flatware and decorative lighting, service and display table pieces love to be used and will add panache to your dining experience. However, many people reserve vintage silver for special occasions. Sadly, despite the many events that qualify, silver often sits unused in the breakfront because it is tarnished beyond recognition. You’d like to bring it out, but cleaning is a time-consuming task and silver polishes generally contain harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and for your family.
Don’t fret or deny yourself any longer. Here are some natural ways to clean silver so you can enjoy its artistic beauty while you savor your favorite foods and wines:
Aluminum Foil And Vinegar
Line the base of a skillet with aluminum foil, shiny side facing upward. Mix 1-cup vinegar per quart of water and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, place silver into the boiling solution and soak for about five minutes before turning off the stove. Remove your silver pieces and rinse them with hot water; quickly dry/buff them with a soft cloth.
Baking Soda And Water
Rub your silver piece with Make a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub the mixture over your silver to clean. Rinse with hot water and quickly dry/buff with a soft cloth.
Water/Baking Soda/Aluminum Foil
Place silver cutlery and/or jewelry in an aluminum pan or baking dish lined with aluminum foil. Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the pieces. Pour boiling water over top and allow the items to soak for about 15 minutes. The tarnish will magically appear on the foil rather than the silver. Rinse pieces in hot water and quickly dry/buff with a soft cloth.
Squeeze a dab of organic toothpaste on a piece of cloth or flannel and rub onto silver. Once bright, rinse pieces with hot water and quickly dry/buff them with a soft cloth.
For mild mineral spots or residue, combine 1-part rubbing alcohol and 4-parts water in a bowl, dip a clean cloth or rag into the mixture and rub over silver. Rinse pieces with hot water and quickly dry/buff them with a soft cloth.
Once your silver is shiny again store it in anti-tarnish bags or wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and sealed in a zip-top bag. Also, do not wear rubber gloves or store anything rubber near your silver as rubber corrodes silver.
How To Safely Display Silver
A glass-enclosed cabinet is the ideal place to display your silver rather than storing it. Be sure to avoid unvarnished wood shelves that can omit harmful vapors. And if you use glass shelves, make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold heavy silver items. Camphor blocks can be added to the cabinet to help prevent tarnish, but don’t let them actually touch the silver. Avoid displaying or storing silver near cotton felt, wool or velvet as well. These fabrics contain sulfides that attack the metal. Direct sunlight doesn’t actually cause tarnish, but it can accelerate the progression of the unattractive film, so place your silver display case away from sunny windows for best results.
Handling Silver Between Cleanings
When handling silver between cleanings, you’ll want to wear white cotton gloves whenever possible. If you don’t have gloves handy, use a clean, soft cotton cloth to cradle the item as you move it around. This is necessary to avoid leaving behind salts, oils and acids found in your skin which can cause corrosion if they aren’t immediately removed from silver and silver plate.