Beyond prompt and frequent cleaning, the best way to preserve your silver is to store it correctly. Make sure each piece is completely dry before storing it. For silverware, wrap each piece in acid-free tissue paper or anti-tarnish paper. You can also wrap pieces in flannel (special flannels are made just for this purpose). Seal the wrapped silver pieces in an airtight plastic bag. Whether you put away your silver in a bag or you put it in a display case, a canister of silica gel placed nearby can help reduce humidity and ward off tarnish. Never store silver where it can contact rubber, stainless steel, or paint.
Don't put silver in the dishwasher! Yes, it's possible to put silver in the dishwasher without any ill effects, but only if you do everything just right and you're lucky. Just don't chance it. It's also worth considering that the desirable patina that can develop on silver is encouraged by gentle friction, which hand washing will provide but which the dishwasher will not.
Avoid wearing silver jewelry in swimming pools. The chlorine can damage the silver in a short time.
To polish silver with intricate etchings and deep crevices, you may use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Wet the bristles with warm water first to soften the bristles further. On the other hand, you may wish to leave a bit of tarnish in the crevices to bring out the design.
To remove built up silver polish from the crevices of ornate silver pieces, use a horsehair brush, NOT A TOOTHBRUSH, as the plastic bristles will scratch the silver.
For sterling flatware, the best way to keep it beautiful is use it on a regular basis and gently wash and dry it with gentle dish soap and water. If it's not in storage for a long time, it doesn't have a chance to tarnish deeply.
When washing with warm soapy water, make sure to use a NON-lemon based detergent, as it can spot the silver. Make sure to dry silver thoroughly using a 100% cotton cloth, such as flour-sack cloths. Tiny water spots may eventually turn into black spots which are very hard, or impossible, to polish off by hand.
Try a vacuum sealer to vacuum pack pieces of cleaned silver. Foodsavers work well.
Many stores and catalogues that sell silver will also sell anti-tarnish silver chests lined with treated felt, or just the anti-tarnish cloth itself. These cloths lengthen the amount of time needed between polishings, but you still need to do it! They also (obviously) are great for storage, as they keep the pieces from being banged around too much. If your silver chest doesn't have a drawer for serving pieces, you can just wrap them in a piece of anti-tarnish cloth and put that in a regular box.
For silver items on display, try using Turtle Wax (yes, the stuff that you use on your car) or NON-lemon based furniture polish to seal the surface and prolong the life of your shine between polishings!
When the silver kept on display starts to tarnish, the first stage is a gold-like tarnish which wipes away quite easily with a silver polishing cloth, or a pair of polishing gloves!
For silver with an oxidized or French gray finish, or for any valuable piece, you're better off sticking to gentle hand washing and commercial silver polishes. It's safest to have truly special pieces professionally cleaned.
Avoid abrasive cleaners. Using baking soda or toothpaste is already a stretch. You run the risk of scratching your silver. Anything more abrasive than those products will almost certainly result in damage.
Silver polishes and dips may contain harmful chemicals. Follow instructions and heed the manufacturer's warnings.
Although it may seem quicker than polishing, using dips will generally set you back years in both patina (as mentioned above) and actual silver loss. Be very careful if you decide to dip. The after-cost is far more costly than your time to polish.
The aluminum-foil method sounds mild and harmless but can result in pitting that gives your silver an orange-peel texture overall. Go by stages, and use a soft clean cotton cloth to rub away the damp aluminum sulfate that collects on the surface of the silver, before you decide it's not working.
Even though it's metal, silver plate can be rubbed right off if you're too diligent with your silver polish. Be sure the dark smear is actually tarnish and not the base metal beginning to show through.
Do not use Brillo pads, steel wool, or other abrasive materials that will scratch silver surfaces. Even tissue paper can scratch newly plated or polished silver if handled improperly.
Research cleaning silver coins (or any coins for that matter) before doing so, as it can greatly reduce their value.
Do not use fine silver to serve food containing eggs or mayonnaise. Since such foods can tarnish silver, use glass bowls, or liners that may have accompanied such silver pieces.
Always thoroughly remove salt and pepper from shakers to prevent pitting and corrosion while in storage.
NEVER store unwrapped silver in plastic bags or wrap and make sure that rubber bands do not come in contact with the silver. Since these are petroleum based products, they break down over time and will stain the silver. In fact, rubber bands can leave black imprints almost immediately!
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