The Joy of Cleaning Sterling Silver

The methods of cleaning sterling silver are going to be predetermined because of the value that is placed on the piece itself. Sterling silver is not strictly limited to jewelry alone but makes up many excellent sets of flatware and other items.

It’s an alloy

Sterling silver is termed as an “alloy,” meaning it is made up of more than silver alone. Sterling is 92 ½ percent silver and 7 ½ percent copper, and unlike most items sterling silver becomes more beautiful as its being used. Imagine that a Jeannie is rubbing her lamp, and that is similar to what happens when someone uses sterling silver.

Every time sterling silver is used or rubbed even with a cloth, it will give it more a sheen or “patina.” To protect your sterling silver, make sure you keep it stored, so it’s not exposed to open air. When purchasing sterling silver flatware, many buyers choose to buy a special flatware case for it. Then, cleaning sterling silver is easy because all it will require is a soft cloth. Once it tarnishes, it’s a different story.

There are a few everyday household items that you can use for cleaning sterling silver if it has tarnished. Baking soda and water mixed is the right combination. You want to make sure you have a little more water than baking soda and lightly rub, rinse off with warm water and rub it dry with a soft cloth.

Use baking soda carefully!

You can use a damp cloth and a little baking soda alone if it is heavily tarnished. Just notes of caution, though; use baking soda sparingly as it is abrasive and can scratch the sterling silver. The more scratches are on the surface, the more it will dull the silver, so be careful.

The Joy of Cleaning Sterling Silver
Sterling Silver

There are a few other things to look for if you want to keep your silver clean and shiny. Beware that salt, vinegar, olives salad dressings, and fruit juices can all severely etch the silver as it breaks down and forms decay. When it is severely corroded, and you have sterling silver with deep designs and crevices, you can use a combination of aluminum foil, water, and baking soda.

Just put the foil in a saucepan, add a teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt, then bring the water to a boil. Put in the silver that you want to clean and let it boil for around two to three minutes. The heat and the combination of what you are boiling will lift the dirt and corroded material from your sterling silver treasures.

Use least abrasive means to clean

When cleaning sterling silver flatware, you want to use the least abrasive method possible. If you are eating salty or acidic foods, rinse the flatware if you aren’t planning to wash it right away. Any chest or tray that you store your flatware in should be lined with flannel or a soft cloth.

You can polish your flatware but be sure that you always use a soft cloth to clean it. The cloth will give your silver a gorgeous sheen. If you have used it for dining, you can use your dishwasher, but most owners prefer to wash it in warm, soapy water and dry with a soft cloth to dry it.

There are three main supplies that you can use for cleaning sterling silver; cloths, liquid solutions, and toothpaste. One of the best-known solutions for cleaning silver is ‘Silvermate‘. ‘Silvermate’ is made up of liquid silver, so it doesn’t have any harsh compounds in it. Polishing compounds will start removing layers from your prized possession, so stick to cleaning your silver the old fashioned way; do it yourself with what you have in your kitchen.

A fan of a clean house and clean things? Read our article on Spring cleaning.