6 savvy tips on how to wash and store silverware

Silverware, whether plated or sterling, benefits from frequent use. Rotate your pieces so that they will age uniformly.

6 savvy tips on how to wash and store silverware

1. Clean your silver twice a year

Use a high-quality silver polish with anti-tarnish ability, a soft cloth to apply the polish in a circular motion, and warm water to rinse.

2. If you have candle wax on your silver

  • Don't scrape it off — you could scratch the surface.
  • Instead, soften the wax in a warm oven or with a hair dryer on low, then peel it off or gently pry it off using a stick.
  • Or, dribble on a bit of mineral turpentine or methylated spirits to dislodge the wax.
  • Do not put a silver candlestick in the freezer to harden wax for removal, as it may damage the silver.

3. To clean ornate silver pieces

Sprinkle on a bit of bicarbonate of soda and then rub gently with a soft cloth.

4. To wash silver

  • Do it by hand in mild dishwashing liquid and warm water and dry immediately with a soft cloth. Water left on silver can pit and corrode it.
  • Be especially careful with silver candlesticks, candelabra and knife handles filled with paste or wax, because if you rub too hard or rinse in hot water they could soften and bend.
  • As a general rule, don't wash silver in the dishwasher; it's too soft to withstand the jostling and abrasion.
  • If you do, keep it away from metals such as copper and stainless steel. They will mark if they touch.

5. To restore silver's shine between cleanings

  • Use polishing gloves and impregnated cloths or a jeweler's rouge cloth — flannel treated with a red polishing powder.
  • These items are available from hardware stores and many department stores.

6. To store a silver serving piece

  • Slip it into an anti-tarnish bag or cloth.
  • Non-buffered tissue paper, an acid-free product sold at craft shops, also works.
  • Then place that in a plastic bag. (Don't use newspaper, as the carbon in the printing ink can eat into silver.)
  • Silica gel packets placed inside will help to inhibit moisture.
  • Don't use rubber bands to close the bag — they contain sulphur, which damages silver.
  • Store silver servers away from sunlight.
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