Last updated on December 2nd, 2011
The random, domestic act of polishing silver serving-pieces and removing spilled wax from silver candlesticks is hardly my idea of a good time. Nevertheless, the holidays are here, company is due, and I want my tableware to sparkle. Here are a few tricks to make this mundane cleaning chore a little less…mundane:
Silver-Plate. I use an electro-magnetic process to quickly clean my coffee and tea service, pictured above, and other large, silver-plated pieces. Here’s the procedure. First, line a dishpan with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Next, pour into the pan one cup of baking soda, and enough boiling water to fill the pan two-thirds full. Submerge silver for about one minute. Finally, rinse with hot water, and then dry with a soft cloth. Why this method works: the foil, soda and hot water produces a chemical reaction that sucks the silver sulfide, or tarnish, from the silver item, and onto the foil. After cleaning several pieces, you will notice that the foil has become quite dark.
Sterling. There is no quick way to clean sterling silver. I find that a gin and tonic, and perhaps an old Bette Davis flick, like All About Eve, helps to keep me amused while I clean every sterling candlestick, fork, knife, and spoon with a cloth soaked in Hagerty’s silversmiths’ polish. If you have an easier way to clean sterling, I’d like to hear it.
You can, of course, avoid all of this scullery-business in the future. Obtain a pair of silversmiths’ gloves, and spray them with dry silver polish. You can buy both gloves and polish here. Then, during your weekly dusting routine, don the gloves and lightly rub your sterling or plated vase, picture frame, tea service, or what have you. Do this religiously, and your silver will always be free of tarnish, and bright as the North Star.
To Remove Candle Wax. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to remove wax from silver candlesticks. Simply place them in the freezer overnight, and the next morning the wax will come off with a mere flick of the fingernail.
You might have a silver-polishing-trick up your own sleeve. Care to share it?
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