How to Care for Sterling Silver or Silverplate


Silver pieces that are labeled as sterling silver contain 92.5 percent silver. Silverplated pieces are made from other metals and are only coated with a layer of silver. Whether you have silverware, silver candlesticks, silver trays or other silver items, in general, both sterling silver and silverplated pieces receive similar care.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild dish detergent
  • Cotton rag
  • Silver polish
  • Wash silver dishes and utensils after using them. Don't let them sit unwashed for hours or overnight, especially if mayonnaise, eggs or vinegar is on them, which according to Lenox, a large manufacturer of silverware, can stain sterling silver pieces and damage silverplated pieces permanently.

  • Use mild dish detergent and carefully wash silver pieces by hand, which is safer and better than washing them in the dishwasher. Rinse the silver pieces well with warm running water to remove all the soap and dry them with a clean cotton towel.

  • Avoid cutting on silver plates and trays, which can permanently damage the surface.

  • Polish silver with a commercial silver polish, following the instructions on the label. It should come with a soft cloth for you to use. If not, use a clean cotton cloth to rub the polish on.

  • Store silver not regularly used in bags, a chest or drawers specially made or lined with a material that prevents silver from tarnishing. Airtight containers or bags are best. According to Lunt Silversmiths, never store silver in the sunlight, in a damp location, loose in a drawer or wrapped together in newspaper or rubber bands.

  • Handle your silver carefully. For example, as you wash silver knives, hold the handle while gently washing the blade. Don't pull or the two may begin to separate. For a silver dish with a handle, hold both the handle and the bottom so the weight of the dish doesn't loosen the handle.

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