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Caring for Silver

As I was going through some of my silverware this week, I noticed that a few of my cream soup spoons had a bit of tarnish on them.  It's always a good idea to wash and buff the pieces in question just to make sure.  After doing so, you may not even need to polish them at all.  Realizing that these pieces weren't going to get any better, I decided to polish them gently and effectively.  I didn't need to use a cream or compound agent for these spoons.  Let me show you what I did. 

The lip underneath this spoon shows some tarnish.  Although this isn't harmful in the least, it is a bit unsightly and not suitable for the table.

These poor spoons were indeed ready to be taken care of.  If your silverware is forged from a single piece, you can employ this method.

Place the silver in an aluminum pan (this is a square cake pan) and settle it at the bottom of your sink.  Don't overcrowd your pieces and don't overlap them.

Note: the pan has to be aluminum for this to work.

Sprinkle between 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of baking soda all over the silver.  Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

Just to illustrate, this fork & knife have a shoulder that connects the mother-of-pearl handle to the silver tines & blade.  If you have silver pieces with several components to them, it's best to use a cream polish such as Maas

Using this method that I'm showing you will damage them.

Carefully pour the boiling water into the pan to completely cover the pieces.  I strongly recommentd that you do this in the sink to minimize splashing. You may detect a bit of an odor.

Note: this may discolor the pan a bit.

In less than a minute or so, you will begin to see the tarnish completely disappear.  Pour cold water into the pan.  When they're cool enough to handle, remove the silverware and rinse off any remaining baking soda that didn't dissolve.  Buff dry with a clean, white cotton towel.

This is what you'll end up with.  Don't these look much nicer than what I started with?  A very good thing indeed.

The next time you look at your silverware, determine whether or not it needs to be cleaned.  As I've stated above, if your pieces require a cream polish, do it gently and follow the established pattern of your silverware.  Make sure you remove all of the compound in soapy water before buffing dry.  Do this ahead of time so that you're prepared and not rushed.  One way I have found of keeping tarnish to a minimum, is by using my silver on a regular basis.  There is no need to wait for the holidays to bring out those heirloom pieces.  Start enjoying them now! 


  1. I have heard of this method and did give it a try but not in an aluminium pan. I will have to try it again, and thank you for the reminder to use silverware more often. The next time I would have brought it out would be for Easter but I think I may use it this weekend just for regular dinner.

  2. You should try this using an aluminum pan, it works! I'm glad I've prompted you to bring out that silver even if it is for a casual meal. You'll see how often you reach for those pieces in the future. Bon Appetit!

  3. some day I will have a silver service and I can't wait to try this on it!

  4. Hello David, how would you suggest I clean the hideous fruit bowl, made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, circa 1886? It was a gift to me from my late mother-in-law. The fruit bowl was a wedding gift to her maternal grandparents.

  5. I'm not sure of the fruit bowl you're talking about, but perhaps if you supply me with a photograph of it, I could better give you suggestions.

    You want to be gentle with anything that's antique and vintage, so I would suggest washing it first in warm, soapy water. Buff it dry with a clean, cotton towel. If it's still tarnished, then go ahead and move onto a silver polish and use it judiciously. I would polish in a circular motion rather than just straight up and down. Rinse off any of the polishing cream and buff it dry with a clean cotton towel until it's dry.

    If at the end of this you find that it's pitted or beyond polishing, you may want to consult a professional resilvering service.

    Send me photograph of it to:

  6. WONDERFUL! I have a quite a lot of sterling which I use daily. Love it. But I have always used cream to polish the pieces. I just tried your method and it works! Piece of cake. :) Thank you.


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