Nothing is prettier than a silver tea set, but a tarnished silver tea set leaves a lot to be desired. To keep your silver looking it’s finest; here are a few tips and techniques to follow. Silver should be washed and dried by hand; it is definitely not a dishwasher friendly item. Do not leave silver on a rubber mat to dry as rubber contains sulfur which can cause corrosion to the silver. It is important to use a soft cloth when drying the silver to prevent scratching.
With frequent use your silver should stay tarnish-free; however, everyone is faced with occasional polishing. Apply the silver polish according to the manufacturer’s directions. Be sure and rub the polish in thoroughly. With a dry polishing cloth, buff the surface of the polished silver to a bright sheen.
You can make your own silver dip to remove tarnish with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt to 2 tablespoons baking soda. Add the mixture to a sink full of steaming, hot water. Put a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of the sink. Dip the silver objects into the sink, making sure the silver rests on the aluminum foil. You should be able to see the tarnish disappear. For heavily tarnished silver pieces, you may need to leave it in the solution for about five minutes. Rinse the silver and dry thoroughly.
When storing silver, it is necessary to pre-treat the silver with a tarnish-retardant polish. Wrap the silver carefully in two layers of plastic wrap to keep it air free. This will keep the silver airtight and prevent oxidation which causes silver to tarnish. Store your silver objects on a piece of lacquered or polyurethane wood. Add desiccated silica gel and a few capsules or small dishes or activated charcoal to the storage area to help keep down humidity levels and keep the area free of gases known to cause tarnish.
Tips and Tricks:
Avoid over exposure of foods such as eggs, mayonnaise and mustard. These are high in sulfur and can cause the silver to corrode. Keep your silver away from all rubber items which contain sulfur. Be careful to remove all the silver polish from the object as it will leave a nasty taste. Do not wear latex gloves when handling, cleaning or polishing silver. Silver-coated or silver-plated items may wear down with frequent polishing. Avoid polishing with a silver polish more than once or twice a year. If washed and dried properly and used frequently, tarnish should not become a problem.
White chalkboard chalk placed in the storage area with your silver can help prevent tarnish. Cigarette ash is a gentle polishing agent. Wipe a damp cloth in cigarette ash and polish your silver. The soft ash is gentle on the surface and will give a nice, soft luster to your silver.
Toothpaste makes a cheap alternative to silver polish. Simply apply a drop of toothpaste to a clean, damp cloth and rub on the silver in an up and down motion. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Avoid placing silver flatware in the same container as stainless steel flatware. Contact of the two different metals can cause the silver to become damaged and stained.
Remove corrosion caused by salt or food by placing the silver object in a mixture of two cups of hot vinegar to one tablespoon of salt. Allow the silver to soak for up to five minutes, rinse and dry well. Remember: Using silver prevents tarnish. The more you handle it, the less chance of tarnish buildup.