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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Tip

How to polish silver according to the experts!

This is one of those tasks most people dread doing, myself included. In fact, there was a time when I didn't even want to own any silver because of how time consuming it was and the awful smell of most polishes. Not to mention, it was always one of my assigned chores growing up. But here are some great tips for taking the pain out of polishing.
The expert advice I have to share comes via the folks of Southern Living magazine and the Mr. Othman Ayoub, the Director of Stewarding at the Ritz-Carton in Washington, D.C.

Southern Living breaks it down into 3 parts:
1.) Polish It: remove tarnish by placing your silver on aluminum foil in your sink, sprinkle with baking soda and pour boiling water over it. Rinse and pat dry.
2.) Use It: Frequent use brings put that rich patina. Rinse right after using to prevent tarnishing from sulfides found in foods like mayonnaise and eggs. Use a gentle dish detergent (avoid anything with citrus). Silver made after 1939 is dishwasher safe, but remove before the drying cycle!
3.) Store It: If displaying in a cabinet, place a piece of chalk nearby- it absorbs chemicals that cause discoloration. Or store in sealed plastic bags. If you have a silver drawer or chest, line it with Pacific Silvercloth, an acid and sulfur-free material that keeps your treasures spotless.

Mr. Ayoub  uses this method:
1.) Line a glass or plastic tub with aluminum foil- shiny side up and fill with hot water.
2.) Add salt- he used coarse kosher salt and baking soda.
3.) Put in silver pieces and let soak 10 minutes.
For quick touch ups he uses a bit of Colgate toothpaste and a soft cloth.

For copper pots he says...
Make a paste of salt, baking soda, lime juice, vinegar and flour. Use paste to rub pots with a soft cloth.

And, for the black stuff that inevitably ends up on the bottom of pots and pans he says pop open a Pepsi and soak!

A few months ago,  I was noticing some pretty silver spoons  my client had out on her counter in a glass vessel. I asked how she kept them from tarnishing quickly and she gave me these from The Container Store:

After cleaning silver, place one of these strips in the drawer, bag or whereever you store your silver.
I'm guessing  this may have a similar result to using chalk or silvercloth as suggest by Southern Living?

Readers if you have additional tips, please share them, we need all the shortcuts possible this time of year! Also, I would love to kno,  besides Brasso (I loathe the smell) what readers use to clean their brass?


  1. Thank you for these tips Rebecca. I keep a lot put away but it is so pretty to use. Brasso is what I have used, I will try the silver tub method!

    2012 Artists Series,

  2. Excellent tips...will be trying them as I get ready for holiday guests! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the tips Rebecca since I have to clean silver next week and was dreading it. I didn't know about the chalk idea love how much we learn on blogs!


  4. There is nothing more beautiful than sterling silver on the table. Love it. I never put mine in the dishwasher although some of the pieces were probably manufactured after 1939. Just like to hand wash, dry and put away...part of the festive routine. Same with the wineglasses. The silver is stored in silver drawers lined with the Pacific cloth along with the anti-tarnish strips. These that I use are made by 3M and have to be changed out once a year. Your pieces are gorgeous! ~Merry Christmas~

    best, teaorwine

  5. ... and I use Twinkle brass/copper cleaner to shine up brass and copper pieces.

  6. I use all of your methods but use Twinkle or wrights after i soak the in the baking soda bath.. Then polish with a soft cloth. A museum curator once told me to NEVER use plastic bags or plastic wrap near silver. so I don't. I use Bartenders Friend on Copper and Brass , works like a charm!

  7. So pleased to see this in print! Decades ago I watched my father do almost the same method - but rather than pouring boiling water into the sink, he threw all the intricate family silver into a cauldron of boiling water on the stove. I thought my mother would have a heart attack.

  8. lemon juice and salt cleans copper or brass up beautifully!

    happy holidays, from Judy in Ft Worth

  9. I love the look of polished silver...I am definitely going to look for those drawer strips.

  10. PS Bar Keepers Friend works GREAT on my copper pans.

  11. I had never head the baking soda and boiling water before. Must try! I have a few things sitting in my kitchen now that I need to polish. Somehow you shouldn't be surprised I'd rather be on my computer! :)

    Merry merry to you and yours, Rebecca!!
    xoxo Elizabeth

  12. Barkeeper's friend for all of my copper and wrights silver cream for the silver. of course, using the silver all of the time keeps it pretty clean!

  13. I'm so bad, the only time I polish is before my mother comes to visit. My grandmother, as she lay in Hospice, was telling me how to polish the silver. Honestly I have never heard of the foil method...I always use Wright's silver polish and hot water. Will try these methods!

  14. Love, love these tips,
    Rebecca! I have never
    tried the alumninum bath
    method; just the polishing
    cream and elbow grease
    method! So I'm excited
    to give this a whirl....

    Thanks and have a very
    Merry Christmas!

    xo Suzanne

  15. I still take the old fashioned approach. Wright's Silver Cream. It makes a soft luster that won't be achieved with the aluminum foil method. For quick touch ups, I keep a pair of Maas Polishing gloves. For copper and brass, Bar Keeper's Friend. If your store has it, find it on the same aisle as other cleaners.

    Merry Christmas!


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