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Thread: Need your hints for cleaning silver!

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Need your hints for cleaning silver!

    Okay, I just received some new silver from a great Aunt. It is in bad shape and I have been cleaning it today and was, as usual, frustrated with my inability to get my silver REALLY clean. I already know that, especially with silver plate, which most of mine is, if you don't clean it often enough it gets "eaten" through with tarnish and you have to replate. I have already done that on one piece from my mother and may have to on some of this.

    What I really want to know is if anyone knows of an effective way to get tarnish out of those little grooves and filigree. Many of my pieces have this braided looking edge which is impossible to clean. Also, does anyone use any really effective, SAFE products they can recommend? I use Wrights, as that is what my Mom used (well, obviously she didn't use anything for the last 10 years, or I wouldn't have been replating....that is why she gave it to me cause she didn't want to have to bother cleaning it anymore)

    I know ya'll know EVERYTHING, or seem to, so please help! Thanks loads!!!!!
    "I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride"

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I vaguely remember a TV show about filling your sink with water, laying a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom and placing your silver on the foil...adding baking soda....and let it sit for awhile...

    I'm trying to surf the web to see if I can get more specific directions than that....
    hang on .....

    OK...here's what I found:

    Cleaning Silver FAQ's
    Sterling silver is an alloy of 92 1/2% silver and 7 1/2% copper. Its beauty increases with use which causes a patina or soft sheen to form. Plated silver is silver that has been electroplated over another metal. Silver tarnishes when exposed to air. This occurs more quickly in damp and foggy weather, but is inevitable in any climate. Store in treated paper or cloth, or plastic film.

    Methods of cleaning silver should be determined by the valued placed on it, monetary or sentimental, and the design of the pattern. Silver with deeply "carved" patterns that are enhanced by an oxide or French gray finish should be hand polished with a high quality silver cream or polish.

    Hand rubbing develops patina on silver which adds to its beauty. Ornamental silver pieces that have been lacquered may be washed in lukewarm water; hot water could remove the lacquer. Polishing silver while wearing rubber gloves promotes tarnish. Instead, choose plastic or cotton gloves.

    Silver has enemies. Rubber severely affects silver. Rubber corrodes silver, and it can become so deeply etched that only a silversmith can repair the damage. Raised designs can be lost permanently. Avoid using storage cabinets or chests with rubber seals, rubber floor coverings, rubber bands, etc.

    Other enemies of silver include table salt, olives, salad dressing, eggs, vinegar and fruit juices. Serve these foods in china or glass containers. Although flowers and fruit look lovely in silver containers, the acid produced as they decay can etch the containers and cause serious damage. When using silver containers, use plastic or glass liners.

    Baking Soda: Apply a paste of baking soda and water. Rub, rinse, and polish dry with a soft cloth. To remove tarnish from silverware, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth and rub it on the silverware until tarnish is gone. Rinse and dry well.

    Aluminum Foil, Baking Soda, and Salt: Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of a pan, add 2-3 inches of water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Add silver pieces, boil 2-3 minutes, making sure the water covers the silver pieces. Remove silver, rinse, dry, and buff with a soft cloth. This method cleans the design and crevices of silver pieces. Toothpaste. To clean off tarnish, coat the silver with toothpaste, then run it under warm water, work it into a foam, and rinse it off. For stubborn stains or intricate grooves, use an old soft-bristled toothbrush.

    Here's the website if you want to read more:
    http://doityourself.com/clean/silver.htm


    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  3. #3
    Guest Guest
    I have used Goddard's silver dip on some of my jewelry with good reults. You dip the piece into the solution and the tarnish is gone almost instantly. I bet Wrights makes somthing similar.

    I have some sterling flatware that belonged to my great aunt. There aren't many pieces, but they sat for years before I recently pulled them ouy and started using them with my everyday flatware. I wash them by hand and they look so much better.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
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    I don't know what your silver pattern looks like, but I wouldn't try too hard to get all the tarnish out of the grooves - it will eliminate the depth from the pattern and make it look very two-dimensional. BTW, I also use Wright's silver polish.

  5. #5
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    I like the Silver Dip, mostly because I can use a dab of it on a Q-tip to get to the filigree on larger pieces.

    I don't ever use Wrights, though. I use Goddard's when I can get it, or Hagerty's Silver Foam when I can't.

    If you try the Silver Dip, make sure to follow it with a light application of silver polish. Silver polish has stuff in it that helps delay additional tarnish, so you won't have to dip it as often.

    HTH!
    Anna
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.
    Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine,
    something Brussels sprouts never do.
    P. J. O'Rourke, humorist
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  6. #6
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    Back when my DD was a Girl Scout I remember her working on some badge and she needed to clean silver. They suggested a mixture of cream of tartar and lemon juice (mixed together to make a paste). She used this on some of my grandmother's very tarnished silver and it came clean beautifully. Much better than regular silver polish.

    Peggy

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Raleigh, NC
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    Wow, what great info. Thanks everybody!
    "I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    Good Ole USofA
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    My mom displays some of her silver (which she has to clean), but keeps the majority of the pieces in bags in her china cabinet. If you don't display it all, you can either make or buy bags that are treated with something that inhibits tarnish.
    "You know I was talking to my friend Desdemona the other day she
    runs this space station and bake shop down near Boomtown. She told
    me that human beings are flawed individuals. The cosmic bakers
    took us out of the oven a little too early. And that's the
    reason we're as crazy as we are and I believe it." Jimmy Buffet, Fruitcakes, 1994

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Arizona
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    207
    Beth,

    My situation sounds similiar to yours, I ended up with silver which was in very tarnished condition and hasn't been used in years if not decades.

    I've used the boiling water technique with putting a piece of folded aluminum foil at the bottle of a pot and adding baking soda. It does work, but from what I understand should only be used occasionally.

    I also use the Wrights with good results. It does take a lot of elbow grease, and I use q-tips and a special fine brush for scrubbing the details. These work well, but take a lot of time.

    For storing, I no longer use the plastic bags, which my family did. I understand the plastic bags cause pitting of the silver. I wrap in soft flannel like fabric and use special silver protector strips put out by 3M. It may sound crazy, but I use the silver every opportunity I have and have the tea sets displayed. I find by using, I don't need to polish frequently and I often think of other's which had enjoyed the pieces in the past!

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    North of the ocean, South of the Freeway, Mississippi Gulf Coast
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    Ooops! forgot to mention Pacific Cloth. It's hugely expensive, but seems to last forever and helps keep things from getting as badly tarnished as the silver would be in a box or drawer by itself.
    It's a cloth that's impregnated with some sort of tarnish preventative.
    Use it to line the drawer, or to wrap the silver for longer storage.
    Anna
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.
    Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine,
    something Brussels sprouts never do.
    P. J. O'Rourke, humorist
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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