Care and Cleaning of Your Silver
The below listed tips have been tried in our shop with good results. However, we do not guarantee the result that you may obtain may be the same as ours as you items may be in a different condition than those used in our test and not done exactly as we did them.
Washing your silver
Wash your silverware immediately after each use. This helps to avoid staining and tarnishing that some foods accelerate. Hand-washing your silverware is recommended. Use a mild dishwashing liquid. Avoid lemon-scented detergents, those containing chlorides. Dry your silverware completely with a soft cloth. Always wash your silver and stainless separately, and only store after it has cooled. Cleaning in a dishwasher is not recommended for either sterling flatware or silver plate. Today’s dishwashers can reach higher temperatures than hand washing and today’s detergents contain much stronger cleaning chemicals. The higher temperatures can cause the filling inside of some knife handle to soften and expand. This expansion can cause the seams in the handles to break or push the blade out of the handle. These detergents over time can also cause the silver to discolor (turn gray or white) and dull its luster. Also certain combination of other metals, such as stainless steel or aluminum, in the dishwasher can cause black spots or even pitting in the silver.
In addition many patterns have a factory applied backgrounds in the recessed areas to make the pattern stand out. These are usually black in color. Over time a dishwasher will lighten or remove this effect. In short if you prize your flatware, treated it with care and hand wash it.
Cleaning and Polishing of Silver
Silver, when properly maintained will provided many years of enjoyment. Silver plated and gold plated pieces should be clean very gently to prevent the removal of the plating.
Tarnish occurs mainly by sulfur compounds in the air. There are other item that will promote tarnish such as fossil fuels, eggs, mayonnaise, rubber bands, acidic fruit, tomatoes and tomato products, salt and salty foods, dressings, wool and many others. Oils from fingers also will have an effect on silver. High humidity will increase this effect.
Tarnish is easy to remove when first noticed by dusting with a silver polishing cloth. This tarnish will have a very slight yellow tint and will continue to darken if let uncared for until it turns black. If you can wipe your item every week or two, the tarnish is not have time to develop. If it has developed to the point the cloth will not remove it, try gently rubbing it with Windex with vinegar on a cotton ball, rinse with water and dry with a soft cotton cloth. All cleaning does cause some abrasion and this is the least.
If the above does not produce the look you want it will be necessary to use a good quality silver polish such as Wright’s Silver Cream. Always remove dried polish and any grime from the pattern and recessed areas before applying polish. Use a wet soft brush to clean these areas. A wet toothpick may also use to get into small areas. This build up is probably due to improper polishing and cleaning the last time you did it. If the buildup is excessive it may need to be professionally cleaned.
We suggest Wright’s silver polish for several reason, it provides some tarnish protection, is less abrasive, can be washed off with warn water and a soft cloth (not leaving a polish residue in the pattern). After a good rinse, towel dry with a soft cotton cloth. When using any polish use gentle pressure. Extreme pressure will remove the plating over a short period of time. When using any polish make sure “You Read and Follow ALL the Directions” on the label to achieve the proper results. Always rub the item in a straight, back and forth motion and avoid a circular motion.
Keep your polish containers tightly closed and store at normal room temperatures and do not use polishes that have dried out. Dried out polish will become more abrasive as the liquid use to suspend the polishing ingredients are reduced or gone and will harm your silver, especially silverplate. Never use steel wool, any type of scouring pads no matter how fine they indicated they are or instant chemical silver cleaning dips. Chemical dips contain an acid, which may remove the factory applied patinas, damage stainless steel blades and can cause damage to wood and ivory parts. The fumes from these products during the cleaning process can be quite unpleasant and the liquid in direct contact with the skin may be harmful. Never use toothpaste as a cleaner.
Once you have your silver looking nice, gently wash and dry it with a soft cotton cloth after each use. Use a non-lemon-scented, phosphate free detergent. Do not let it come in contact with a metal sink as it may scratch the surface. If you have a metal sink place a towel in the bottom. Silver that is used often and washed in this manner will require less polishing.
Storing and Display of your Silver
If you use your silverware regularly, store it in a clean drawer free from moisture. To keep tarnish to a minimum inside a display case, use 3M Anti-Tarnish Strips or other bands of anti-tarnish strips to absorb gases which produce tarnish. Follow the useful life directions on these strips and change them accordingly. You can place Silica gel packs inside which will keep the humidity lower. Keep the doors closed and dust the objects from time to time with a silver polishing cloth. Use cotton gloves when dusting to keep oils from your skin away from the silver.
If you plan on storing your silver and it is already tarnished, you can store it as is using the following method. You need to keep in mind that if you store it away tarnished and plan to use it at a later date you need to allow for time to clean it prior to its use. If you silver is I good condition when stored you should not need to polish it prior to use, just a simple wash and dry.
Wrap each piece in an acid free tissue or soft anti-tarnish tissue, put in a polyethylene bag such as Ziploc, put in an anti-tarnish strip, press out as much air as possible and seal. This should prevent the tarnish from growing.
A better option is to wrap it in a sulfur-absorbing cloth such as Pacific Silver cloth, Kenized SilverSheild cloth or other bands of silver protective cloths. These cloths will last for 15 to 20 years unless they are washed. If the material is washed you have ruined its ability to absorb the sulfur gasses. Some storage material should not be used. Wrapping in newspaper or exposing to rubber band can cause severe discoloration which may require professional cleaning. Rubber band will leave line in sterling silver and may not be able to be removed with household silver cleaners. Rubber bands can etch through silver plate, which in most cases will require the item to be resilvered. Some plastic wraps contains tarnish producing elements and can also adhere to the piece making it difficult to remove without using solvents.
The best way to slow tarnishing is to use your silver. Tarnish is caused by certain foods that contain sulfides, such as: Eggs, fruit juices, tomatoes, vinegar, ketchup, salt, salty foods (butter), mustard, salad dressing and tomato sauces. If this foods remain on your silver for a length of time, they will cause your silver to tarnish and in many cases cause pits. Salt should be emptied from the article immediately after use and rinsed to avoid spotting. Rubber bands are very harmful to silver. They can leave marks on sterling silver that are very difficult to remove and may even remove the silver from plated items.
Please note we do not guarantee these tips and suggest if your silver is a value to you, seek professional help.