Cleaning silver is a chore that can elicit a groan from even the most seasoned homemaker. However, with a bit of know-how and some household items, you can have your pieces sparkle like new again.

One of the best polishes for silver is Wright’s Anti-Tarnish Silver Polish. It cleans and revives tarnished silver, and its non-scratch formula also protects metal surfaces from oxidation.

Prevent Tarnish

Silver items tarnish when they react with sulfur in the air and also with certain things that are deposited on them such as perfumes, hair spray, hand cream and even some foods. Fortunately, you can prevent silver from tarnish by regularly polishing it and storing it in a cool, dry place.

The instant polish formulation is comprised of a liquid carrier (preferably an aqueous alkaline solution), a non-toxic and soluble abrasive, and 0.5 to 3.0% disubstituted thiourea. The abrasive can be charcoal, chalk, rouge, tripoli, brick, pipe clay, yellow ocher, emery, infusorial earth, rotten stone, silica and the like. The best results were obtained using a clay with an average particle size of not more than 5 microns. The polish may be formed as a paste or in the form of a thick liquid. It can be applied to silver objects with a natural bristled brush or with an aerosol can for intricate silver items.

Clean Tarnished Silver

Aside from using a non-toxic polish, there are several natural ways to clean silver that remove the dull tarnish without chemically attacking the metal. One such method uses aluminium foil, baking soda and hot water to create a chemical reaction that lifts the tarnish off the surface. For an even more gentle cleaning process, use a microfiber cloth that is pre-infused with silver polishing compound.

This cloth can be purchased from any jewelry store and is easy to use. Start by wiping all areas of the silver including any etched or embossed details. Rinse the item and let it dry before storing.

Another simple but effective way to clean silver is with ketchup. Place your silver jewellery, flatware or other items into a small bowl filled with clear ammonia for 10 minutes and then wipe with a soft cotton cloth. The tarnish should dissolve easily. Store your silver items in a well-ventilated area away from higher humidity to prevent rapid tarnishing.

Polish Tarnished Silver

Whether you need to polish silverware, teapots or jewelry, this heavy-duty liquid cleaner buffs away major discoloration, leaving a brilliant shine and coat of protection. It also revives dull metals, such as copper, gold and aluminum.

For best results, apply a small amount of the cleaner to a clean cloth, and rub the item with an up-and-down motion rather than a circular one to avoid highlighting fine scratches. Wipe the item dry afterward, and store it in a cool place to prevent retarnishing.

These mess-free polishing wipes contain a proprietary cleaning solution that is designed to remove tarnish from all types of silver, including plated pieces. It works by absorbing the oxidation on silver and transferring it to aluminum, which forms aluminum sulfide and leaves the silver shiny and protected. The polish also contains an anti-tarnish agent, which is a water insoluble substance derived from an organic compound such as petroleum distillate or acetone. The instant polish formulations preferably include, in addition to the abrasive and substituted thiourea, surfactants which promote foaming and rinsability.

Finish Up

Keeping your silver table-ready throughout the year requires more than just polishing. It also means protecting it from the elements. Store silver flatware and collectibles in anti-tarnish flannel bags to keep them from being exposed to air, moisture, and oils from the skin.

If you have a lot of tarnished silver, use a commercial silver cleaner or make your own polish from gilder’s whiting and ammonia. You can get a good polish with this method and it is safe for antique silver as well.

The best way to prevent re-tarnishing is by thoroughly cleaning your silver between polishing. This can be done by hand or with a rotatory tool. It’s best to use a soft cloth, such as microfiber or 100% cotton flannel. You can even find anti-tarnish flannel cloths. This is a step that will not only protect your silver, but will save you time and money. This is especially important when using an instant silver polish.