Skip to main content

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.


Post a Comment

Thank You for Posting!

Popular posts from this blog

Antique Salt Cellars

There was a time when salt cellars played an important role on the dining table for the host or hostess.  As a result of it being such an expensive commodity several hundred years ago, salt was seen as a luxury and it was the well to do that made salt cellars quite fashionable & a status symbol for the home.  A single salt cellar usually sat at the head of the table and was passed around throughout the meal.  The closer one sat to the salt cellar, the more important one was deemed by the head of the household.  Smaller cellars that were more accessible and with an open top became a part of Victorian table settings.  Fast forward to the 20th century when salt was no longer a luxury and when anti caking agents were added to make salt free-flowing, and one begins to see salt cellars fall out of fashion.  Luckily for the collector and for those of us who like to set a table with Good Things , this can prove to be a boon. Salt cellars for the table come in silver, porcelain, cut glass

Collecting Jadeite

With its origins dating back to the 1930s, jadeite glassware began its mass production through the McKee Glass Co. in Pennsylvania. Their introduction of the Skokie green & Jade kitchenware lines ushered in our fascination with this jade color.  Glassmakers catered jadeite to the American public as an inexpensive alternative to earthenware soon after the Depression, both for the home and for its use in restaurants.  The Jeanette Glass Company and Anchor Hocking introduced their own patterns and styles, which for many collectors, produced some of the most sought after pieces.  Companies marketed this beautiful glass under the monikers of jadite , jadeite , jade glass , jad-ite , jade-ite , so however you want to spell it, let it draw you in for a closer look.  If you want a thorough history of the origins of jadeite, collectors’ pricing, patterns & shapes (don’t forget the reproductions in 2000), I highly suggest picking up the book by Joe Keller & David Ross called, Jadei

How to Paint a Chair

If you have ever felt the need to spruce up a set of chairs or give them a new look, why not try a little bit of paint?  Our tastes in decor and color will probably alter throughout our lives, and at some point, we may find ourselves wanting to change the look of our furniture without having to spend a lot of money.  That's where a few handy tips, some tools from the hardware store, and good-quality paint come in handy.   I know I'm not alone in paying visits to local antique shops, antique fairs and flea markets, and falling in love with pieces of furniture that would be perfect if they were just a different color.  You don't have to walk away from a good purchase simply because it's the wrong color.   My dear friend, Jeffrey, is forever enhancing his home with collectibles from flea markets and tag sales.  However, certain items aren't always up to Jeffrey's tastes when he brings them home.  He is the type of person who won't hesitate to chang