How to Clean Silver Flatware

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Silver flatware can be frustrating to clean. Ordinary washing often leaves tarnish and spots behind which seem impossible to remove. There are many ways to clean silver flatware which are not only easy, but which can be done cheaply with items you already have lying around the house. Read on to learn how to clean silver flatware.

Things You'll Need

  • Pan or sink
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Powdered milk
  • Vinegar
  • Toothpaste
  • Silver polish
  • Clean, dry cloth
  • Place a piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of a non-aluminum pan. The sink works well for this step.

  • Fill the pan or sink with two cups of hot water. Place a tbsp. of baking soda in the water and mix with the water.

  • Place the silver flatware in the water and allow to soak for a couple of hours. The soda and water mixture will slowly but surely remove the tarnish from the flatware.

  • Place the silver flatware in a different solution if the baking soda does not get it clean. For example, place the aluminum foil in a pan sink with 2 tsp. of salt and cover with hot water. Allow the silver flatware to rest in this solution until clean. A small packet of dry milk, 12 oz. of water and tablespoon of vinegar will also do the trick. Another alternative method is to use ordinary toothpaste and a clean cloth. Work the toothpaste carefully into any crevices in the silver flatware, then buff it off.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not use the baking soda or salt methods on silver flatware with a French gray or oxidized finish.
  • If none of these methods will work to get your silver flatware clean, get a good silver polish such as Wright's. Wash the silver flatware with dish soap and water afterward.
  • Tarnish-resistant cloths are available for storage of silver flatware.
  • Use a glass container for the soaking baths to ensure non-reactivity.
  • Washing the silver flatware with a solution of soapy water and ammonia may clean it up nicely.
  • Silver flatware can be washed in the dishwasher. However, do not wash it in the same basket with steel flatware as this could cause serious damage.
  • Allowing food to sit on silver flatware for long periods can damage it, so wash silver promptly after use.
  • Do not use the soaking method with silver plate, as it will eventually wear all the silver off of the flatware.

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