The Ultimate Guide On How To Clean Silver Before Special Events

by Kara Richards on October 30, 2018

No matter how tarnished silver becomes, cleaning silver before your next big event is easy with a few helpful hacks. Learn how to clean silver easily and quickly in your own home.

How to Clean Silver Before Special Events

Before a big event, you need your silver to sparkle – whether it be silver utensils, gravy boats, serving plates, or even jewelry. The problem is that without a proper cleaning occasionally, silver can tarnish and appear dingy. Cleaning silver sounds like a laborious and arduous process that many people don’t want to undertake just for a night of entertaining.

Clean Silver Before Special Events

Cleaning your silver before special events don’t have to become a difficult chore. With the right cleaning process, you can make your silver sparkle quickly, without:

  • Taking a special trip to the grocery store
  • Spending hours looking over cleaning labels
  • Scrubbing your silver pieces for long periods

A little elbow grease may be necessary if your silver is especially dirty, but most of the time, you can care for your silver while completing other chores.

With these tips, learn how to clean silver with ease. Below you’ll learn tricks to allow your silver pieces to soak while you tackle other household chores or scrub antique pieces into use for the first time in centuries. These cleaning tips will tackle any level of silver tarnish before your next special event.


Clean Silver Before Special Events

There are many products on the market to help you clean silver and some work better than others.

Antique silver can sometimes feel sticky to the touch, especially if it hasn’t been cleaned in a while or was recently purchased at an antique store. In this scenario, you want to start by removing the grime layered on top.

To achieve this, you can use a store-bought cleaner or simply use acetone. Acetone is safe, and when coupled with a tiny amount of water, can produce stunning results. Use a Q-tip or cotton ball to rub a small amount of acetone into the silver.

If you want to use a proprietary silver cleaner, look for mildly abrasive action. Most cleaners on the market work this way. This means the cleaner will remove a small layer of silver from the surface of your piece each time it is used, so use these cleaners sparingly and rinse thoroughly.

Always avoid using the dishwasher to clean silver, as the heat may warp your pieces and cause more damage. Hand cleaning is desired if you want to keep your silver safe.


Clean Silver Before Special Events

Silver polish is the best way to remove tarnish. Hand washing isn’t enough to remove tarnish, and silver polishes have been created as a safe option if your silver has designs etched into it or if it’s especially old.

Reputable companies sell silver polish specifically created to restore silver to its original state, and these are always the best products to buy. An 8 or 12-ounce bottle of silver polish is often priced between $ and $, depending on the type you buy.

You can buy a cotton polishing cloth or use a cotton ball to polish. If you don’t have either, you could use an old cotton shirt you don’t plan to wear again. Just make sure there is no print or ink on the shirt, which will damage the silver.

Dry and Buff Away Any Spots

Clean Silver Before Special Events

Clean silver may not always appear clean, as silver polish or watermarks could reside on the piece. Finish off your cleaning process with a final wipe down to dry away excess water or buff out any residue spots that may linger from the cleaner or polish with any silver-friendly surface cleaner. The eco-friendly brand Method produces a surface cleaner perfect for this step.

Store Silver Safely to Prevent

Clean Silver Before Special Events

After all that cleaning, you don’t want your silver to become dirty before the special event. Prevent further tarnish by storing your silver in a resealable bag. If you want to avoid dirt build up in between uses, you can use acid-free paper or unbleached cotton to wrap the pieces before storing them.

Repeat the Process as Needed

Clean Silver Before Special Events

If your silver was especially in need of a good clean, you might need to repeat the cleaning steps above.

A gentle cleaning process like this will not cause any harm to your silver, even antique pieces, if you need to give it another pass through the cleaning stage.

If your silver still isn’t shiny enough for your taste, try a silver polish from your local store. A final polish should spruce up the shine in moments.

Other Silver Cleaning Hacks to Try

Clean Silver Before Special Events​​​

Rather than use store-bought cleaning products and polishers, you may already have products at home you can use to clean silver. Don’t spend the extra money unless you really must, as many people believe not all store-bought products perform as well as other cleaning hacks that utilize every day, eco-friendly, and natural cleaning options.

Cleaning and maintaining silver with things you find around the home is quick and easy, and you can save a few dollars in the long run. Learn how to clean silver without a trip to the store for polish using these hacks.

Baking Soda and Water

Clean Silver Before Special Events

Baking soda is known around the natural cleaning world as one of the most versatile cleaning tools, but did you know it can also be used to clean silver? When coupled with aluminum, baking soda produces a chemical reaction that can remove the sulfur dioxide stuck to your silver. This removes tarnish and grime as well.

All you have to do is mix a small amount of baking soda with a tiny amount of water, creating a paste.

Rub the paste you created on the surface of the silver and buff as you see fit.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the silver (which should be placed in a large tray) and pour boiling water over the silver until it is submerged. Allow the silver to soak for five minutes or longer for the best results.

Afterward, rinse off the mix and blot dry with a cloth. The baking soda should come off easily and never leave any stickiness or residue like silver polishing products. Use caution though, as baking soda can remove a layer of silver with the tarnish.

If your silver is etched with design, this may not be the cleaning method for you.

Vinegar and Aluminum

Clean Silver Before Special Events

Like baking soda, vinegar is also famous for its effective cleaning performance on multiple surfaces.

To try out this method, line aluminum foil around a glass or iron pan with the shiny side facing up. Mix one part vinegar with four parts water, bringing the mixture to a boil. Then, drop in the silver and allow it to sit for five minutes before removing. Lastly, rise the silver with warm water and dry to perfection.

If you don’t have aluminum foil, this process can still work with a disposable aluminum tray. But if you’re cleaning something too big to fit in a pan or tray, such as a gravy boat, you can line a mop bucket with aluminum foil and repeat the above steps.

Always avoid using a dish or pan you use for cooking and never use something that you would miss if something happened to it, as the cleaning process has the potential to stain whatever vessel you use to hold the silver. Sometimes odors from the vinegar can also linger in the pan and be transferred to the food you cook later, so make sure to use a glass or pan for cleaning purposes only.

Rubbing Alcohol

Clean Silver Before Special Events

If your silver has a lot of smudges, spotting, or tarnish, rubbing alcohol may be the cure you need. Try mixing one-part rubbing alcohol to four parts water. Then use a clean cloth to buff the silver and dry it.


Clean Silver Before Special Events

Toothpaste has a surprising number of cleaning uses outside of your mouth. This method works especially well with organic toothpaste, but a dap of any toothpaste will work. A flannel shirt is said to work well for cleaning silver with toothpaste, but you can use any cloth to rub the surface of your silver gently.

After your silver is coated and scrubbed with toothpaste, rinse with warm water and use a clean, dry cloth to pat dry the silver.

However, do not use this cleaning method on antique pieces or especially valuable silver. Some toothpaste brands can cause damage, so make sure to select a plain white paste without gel or whitening features.

Always Use Caution

No matter what method you use on how to clean silver, always use caution. If you notice damage, rinse immediately. If you notice any scratching, stop the process, rinse off the cleaner, and try another cleaning hack. Cleaning with toxic fumes and cleaning products requires a level of responsibility.

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