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How to Clean Silverware and Kiss Tarnish Goodbye!

a bowl and spoon made of silver that has been discoloured

Almost every household contains silverware in some form or the other. From a precious silver platter and a wide range of cutlery to different types of jewellery and ornamental teacups; silver items are stunning to look at, very valuable, and oftentimes, are what family heirlooms are made of. Unfortunately, time can really do a number on your silverware leaving it dull, tarnished, or looking worthless. In fact, some pieces of silverware become unrecognisable due to complete discolouration or blackening of the material. 

If your silverware is in need of cleaning which includes removing tarnish from the metal, you’ve come to the right place. Believe it or not, restoring silver to its original colour is a lot easier than it seems. Today, Maid For You is sharing some very effective methods to clean silverware so you can kiss that unsightly tarnish goodbye! Read on.

How to Remove Tarnish from Silverware

silver cutlery that has been tarnished

Perhaps, the best part about cleaning silver and removing tarnish is that it can be done with common household items and ingredients. The second best part is that the process is really simple! 

First off, round up the things below to clean your tarnished silverware: 

  • Kitchen salt (also known as Kosher salt)
  • Baking soda
  • Aluminium foil
  • Large pot
  • Cotton cloth (or any soft cloth)

Using the items and ingredients above and the method below, you can clean off tarnish from small silver pieces like cutlery, tea cups, jewellery, small trays, etc. 

Steps to Clean Tarnished Silver

a box of silver forks spoons and knives

  1. Measure and cut a piece of aluminium foil as per the size of the pot you are using. Line the entire pot with the foil, ensuring that no part of the interior is exposed. The goal is to prevent your silver from touching the surface of the pot as any friction between the materials may cause more discolouration or worse, damage.
  2. In a separate pot, pour in distilled or purified water; the quantity must be enough to submerge the silverware. Bring the water to a boil, and then pour it into the pot lined with foil.
  3. Before you place any silver pieces inside the pot, you need to add in the ingredients that will help get rid of tarnish from your silverware. Bear in mind that the measurements of each cleaning agent can be increased depending on the level of tarnish you are dealing with and the amount of water in the pot. For silverware with a lot of black discolouration, add in 2 teaspoons of kitchen salt and ½ a cup baking soda. These ratios are recommended for approximately 1 ½ litres of water, however, you can strengthen or dilute the cleaning solution as needed. Use a spoon (perhaps a silver one?) to stir the water and combine the ingredients properly.
  4. Place your silverware in the cleaning solution one piece at a time. Do this carefully so that you don’t burn your hands. Space the silver pieces out so that they are not piled up over each other, and avoid soaking too many items at one time. Allow your silver pieces to soak for 10 minutes or until the water is cool to touch. If you find that the water is becoming dirty or discoloured during this time, that means it’s working! 
  5. Remove your silver items and keep them aside while you drain the water and discard the foil. Rinse off each piece and wipe them dry with a cotton cloth. If you find traces of tarnish left on your silver, simply repeat the process as many times as needed to get rid of the discolouration entirely.

Steps for Cleaning Large Pieces of Silverware

If you’re wondering how to clean those large pieces of silver that don’t fit into any pot you own, worry not. Serving trays, candlesticks, and other large silver items can be soaked and cleaned using the same ingredients, only this time, in a larger soaking pit. 

Check out these simple steps to clean and remove tarnish from large pieces of silverware:

  1. Clean your kitchen sink with equal parts of water and white vinegar to remove grease and grime. Rinse the interior thoroughly and plug the drain. 
  2. Double up sheets of aluminium foil and line the sink. Be sure to cover the whole surface or up to where the water level will reach.
  3. Fill the sink with boiling hot water and mix in approximately 1 cup each of kitchen salt and baking soda.
  4. Place the silverware in the sink without piling them up. Make sure that each piece is completely submerged.
  5. This time around, soak your tarnished silverware in the cleaning solution for a good half hour or longer. 
  6. Rinse the pieces after the soaking period, and dry them with a soft cloth.

Again, you may have to repeat the cleaning process if all the tarnish is not removed. Just be sure to use new sheets of foil and a fresh cleaning solution if you do.

Routine Cleaning and Maintenance of Silverware

woman with pink nail polish cleaning silver cutlery with a rag

After you’ve removed tarnish and restored your silverware to its original colour, the next question on everybody’s mind is: ‘how to keep silver clean and shiny?’ Well, that can only be achieved with routine cleaning.

Use the tips below to clean silverware and maintain its lustrous appearance:

  • Clean silver with mild dish soap and warm water
  • For silverware that is not used often, clean the items with mild soap and water once in three months
  • Always buff your silverware after washing/cleaning
  • Soak silver items in non-gel toothpaste water every other month to brighten them up and bring back their sheen
  • Remove water spots from silverware using a soft cloth dampened with lemon extract
  • Store silver pieces in a cool, dry place after cleaning them

Don’t let a little (or a lot of) tarnish get you down! Silverware can, in fact, be saved and made to look brand new again. If you don’t believe us, all the proof you need is in these tried and tested methods to clean and restore silver to its original colour.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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