How to clean silver, china and bottles without damaging their finish

Whether it's time for spring cleaning, or you simply like to have your ornaments and accents looking their best, cleaning silver, china and bottles can be easy by using these simple tricks.

How to clean silver, china and bottles without damaging their finish

Keeping silver clean

Cutlery

  • Clean with paste or polish applied and buffed off with a soft cloth.
  • Solid silver — but never silver plate — can be immersed in a silver dip according to the instructions.
  • The dip will strip off plating, especially if it's damaged.

Ornate pieces

  • Sprinkle on some bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and rub off with a soft cloth.
  • Use a soft brush to get into any crevices.

Jewelry

  • Clean as for silver-plated cutlery.
  • Dip an old toothbrush in bicarbonate of soda for cleaning crevices.
  • Wash in warm water and dry well.

As well as pastes and liquid, you can buy polishing gloves and cloths to buff up silver regularly. For valuable items try a jeweller's rouge cloth (available online). Always wash silver by hand in warm water with mild dishwashing soap and dry at once to avoid leaving marks.

Storing, cleaning and repairing china

Storing

  • Keep small or delicate china ornaments in a cabinet so that they don't collect dust.

Cleaning

  • For ornaments, use a long-haired soft-bristled makeup brush dipped in warm water containing a drop or two of dishwashing soap. Rinse ornaments using a brush dipped in clean water, and leave to dry on an absorbent paper towel.
  • Always wash fine china by hand. To prevent chipping, line the sink with a towel or rubber mat, and wash cutlery separately.

Repair

  • Mend breaks with a two-part epoxy adhesive, which allows time to reposition the pieces, if necessary, and is waterproof.
  • To position an awkwardly shaped item for gluing, place it in a box of sand, with its broken surface protruding. Apply adhesive to both pieces and carefully press together.
  • A newly glued cup handle can be taped in place with gummed paper, which shrinks as it dries out, so putting pressure on the join. Repairs to handles, however, are unlikely to be strong enough to withstand normal use.

Cleaning bottles

  • For the outside of a bottle, warm water and dishwashing soap are all that's needed. Always avoid using a scouring pad on antique glass.
  • For the inside, if there's hardened residue, fill with warm water with dishwashing soap added and leave to soak for several hours before cleaning with a bottle brush.
  • For really stubborn dirt, put 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of dry rice or crushed eggshells into the bottle. Fill with water and add a denture-cleaning tablet. Let it dissolve, then cover the bottle and shake well.
  • For a tough white crust, try filling the bottle with white vinegar and leave it for 24 hours. Then rinse out and wash the bottle as above.
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