Caring and Tips

Whatever product you use to clean your silver will inevitably remove a very slight layer. Therefore, it is important to use the least abrasive materials, such as silver foam or liquid polish and to make sure that you buy the long-term variety. In the UK, Goddard’s is a very reliable brand.

Silver is a very soft metal and scratches very easily. Never use a metal polish intended for copper or brass and never use wire wool or an abrasive kitchen pad.

Your silver-cleaning box should be equipped with:-

• Soft clean cloths
• Cotton wool
• One or two clean sponges
• Some cotton-buds
• A few orange sticks
• A couple of old soft, discarded toothbrushes
• Possibly a larger brush with very soft bristles (there are special silver-cleaning brushes on the market)
• One or two impregnated cloths
• A pair of impregnated gloves or mittens
• Silver foam
• Silver liquid polish
• Silver dip.

Once your silver is clean, you can maintain it for quite a while by dusting it with a soft cloth and washing it in warm, soapy water, after which you need to rinse it well and then dry the article immediately with a soft, dry kitchen towel.

This is where the impregnated gloves come in very handy because if warm, soapy water is no longer enough, you can rub up the silver very effectively without getting your hands dirty. Make sure that the gloves have a white or cream lining because some of them have red linings, which give you red hands! Never wash impregnated gloves. The dirtier they look, the better they clean. These gloves can be found in the haberdashery department of large department stores. In London, you can find them at any of the John Lewis Stores, also at Selfridges and Harrods.

If you have silver which is not in daily use, it is better to put it away and keep it as air-tight as possible. You can wrap the silver in acid-free tissue or tarnish-proof felt and put it in a cupboard or drawer. Tarnish does not actually harm silver and although it looks ugly, it is not corrosive. Therefore, it is quite unnecessary to clean silver which is in store and it is far better to clean it only when you take it out to use it.

Silver dip is a wonderful aid to cleaning but must be used with caution. It is ideal for cleaning the deep parts of ornate work in conjunction with cotton-buds or a soft toothbrush or an orange stick. However, continual use will wear the silver down and soften the sharpness of ornate work. Therefore, silver dip is a great help in cleaning an ornate piece initially but should only be used very rarely after that. Also, silver dip should be applied to the object very briefly and should then be rinsed off thoroughly. Much harm has been done to the finials of teapot lids, for example, by cleaning the teapot with silver dip and not rinsing properly afterwards so that the dip runs under the finial where it may not be rinsed properly and then corrodes the silver.

Silver dip cleans silver but does not polish it. Therefore, it is necessary to polish the piece of silver in order to bring it back to its normal colour.

The one time that silver dip can be used regularly is for the cleaning of cutlery after it has been used to eat sulphurous foods such as egg yolk, especially in mayonnaise and brussel sprouts and peas, etc. Wash the cutlery in warm, soapy water, then dip it for a moment into the silver dip jar. Rinse the cutlery copiously in water (hot or cold) and dry immediately with a dry, soft cloth.

Everybody has their own methods of cleaning silver so the above points are only suggestions and warnings. But do not be afraid of your silver. Often, it has survived for many hundreds of years. If you treat it gently, it will clean up beautifully.