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Flatware Cleaning & Polishing

 

 

Occasionally cleaning an object is preferred to waiting until heavy tarnish forms and polishes have to be employed. (All polishes have some degree of abrasion.) Before setting your table you can catch tarnish in its earliest stage if you hold your flatware next to a piece of white paper. If tarnish has started to form, you will see a very light yellowish tint on the silver. Prior to working on your flatware, if you have sensitive hands, wear nitrile gloves – not latex which contains sulfur. WARNING: Never put your silver in the dishwasher or use chemical dips.

Cleaning

If you see dried polish in ornamental areas, moisten and soften it with warm running water and gently tap it out with a brush made of natural bristles: tampico (soft), boar (stiffer), or horsehair (stiffest). See these brushes here. Shorten the boar bristles if you need added stiffness. Never use a dry brush when removing dry polish as it will create scratches.

Try removing this light tarnish with either plant-based Better Life Dish Soap (preferred for its neutral pH) or Dawn citrus-free dish detergent and warm water on a cellulose sponge, then rinse under warm water and dry immediately with a cotton hand towel, bar towel, or cotton micro-fiber cloth. (Make sure to check the label as most micro-fiber clothes are synthetic and may scratch, plus they are poor water absorbers). You can also try aloe-free hand sanitizer on a cotton makeup pad or cotton ball, then wash with one of the above dish soaps. Do not allow the freshly cleaned flatware to touch the bottom of your sink (possible scratching) or rubber mat (sulfur in the rubber may tarnish your freshly cleaned silver). Place the flatware on a clean towel until ready to store.

Polishing

If tarnish remains, use Herman's Simply Clean Collectors Silver Polish as it leaves no residue. Firstly, remove any signs of tarnish between tines with a flattened Q-tip and Herman's. Continue polishing the piece with Herman's applied to a moist cellulose sponge as it offers the gentlest cleaning. If more pressure is required to remove more stubborn tarnish, try Herman's on a cotton makeup pad or cotton ball (perfect for ornamental areas) then rinse under warm water and dry immediately. After dinner, wash your flatware by hand and place on a clean towel until ready to store.

Gilt or partially gilt pieces that display tarnish normally have gold that has worn away, exposing the base metal. If this is the case use the same methods mentioned above for silver and concentrate on removing only the tarnish.

Below: These three images are of the same spoon handle. The left image is in its original condition; the center image is the handle after being cleaned with hand sanitizer; and the right image is the final finish from using silver polish.

Protecting Carbon Steel Components

Do you own flatware containing carbon steel components like knife blades, fork tines, poultry shears, or sharpening steels? This is how you can keep those components from rusting: After dinner, hand wash the knives in warm water, then dry immediately. Apply a very thin layer of  Burt's Bees Lip Balm and wipe with a paper towel until there is no residue left behind. This will keep the blades from rusting. Since this product is non-toxic there's no need to wash them prior to use.

Storage

When storing flatware, rotate the pieces so they will wear uniformly. For flatware storage options and resources, go here).

The above products can be found in the Resources section of The Care of Silver Guide.

As always, feel free to contact me should you have any questions.


Home Page About Me Before & After Images Services Offered Repair Issues Resources
 Frequently Asked Questions Silver Care Silver Glossary Shop Views The Library
Engraving Samples Testimonials Work Order.doc / .pdf Contact

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