How To Clean Your Sterling Silver Flatware

Sterling silver flatware is very valuable, and whether your silverware is a keepsake or you’re looking to sell it, you’ll want to keep it in good condition. One important step you can take to care for your sterling silver flatware is to clean and polish it. So, in this article, we will explain how to properly clean and polish your flatware.

What Is Tarnish?

Sterling silver, along with some other metals, needs to be cleaned regularly to remove tarnish. Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that often forms on various metals, such as aluminum, copper, and brass. Tarnish is actually a form of oxidation caused by sulfur dioxide reacting with silver. Sterling silver flatware can also tarnish as a result of contacting felt, wool, or even some types of foods.

Tarnish causes a black or grey coating to form on the silver. The coating will only occur on the first few layers of your flatware. Then, it will actually protect the silver beneath it. The fact that the tarnish only affects the outer layers of your flatware is what allows you to remove the tarnish by cleaning it.

How To Prepare Sterling Silver Flatware for Cleaning

You’ll need to be careful when cleaning your flatware to avoid damaging it. So, make sure you clean your silver with a silver cleaner that is non-abrasive and needs to be rinsed off after you finish cleaning. If the silver cleaner you use instructs you to rinse after use, it is likely to be less abrasive.

Additionally, avoid using chemical dips to clean your silver since these dips contain corrosive acids. Also, as tempting as it may be, don’t place your sterling silver flatware in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents may damage the silver.

The Cleaning Process

There are a few items you’ll need for cleaning that you should gather ahead of time, such as:

  • Non-abrasive dish cloth
  • Soft cotton towel
  • Large plastic dishpan
  • Non-citrus, phosphate-free hand dishwashing soap
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Horsehair paint brush
  • Silver polishing cloth

Now that you have your supplies ready, you can put the flatware into your dishpan. Next, put a few drops of your dish soap in the pan and add warm water. Then, use the dishcloth to gently clean the flatware. Once you finish cleaning the flatware, dry it off with a cotton towel.

After this, you can remove any tarnish by using a non-abrasive cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Just dampen the cloth and add a bit of the non-abrasive silver cleaner and gently clean your silver. Use a back and forth or up and down motion when cleaning rather than a circular motion.

Once you’ve finished cleaning, rinse off the flatware with a soft cotton towel. If you find that some silver cleaner is stuck in the pattern on your silver, you can use a horsehair brush and then rinse the silver off again. Now, you can polish the silver with silver polish and a silver polishing cloth. After you are done, your sterling silver flatware should look like new.

Contact Us

For cleaning and appraisal of fine silver and other decorative objects, contact Manzi Appraisers & Restorers. Our team has over 20 years of experience providing individuals and businesses with accurate valuation restorations. Call us at 617-948-2577 and connect with us on Facebook.