ANTIQUE SILVER PRESERVATION AND MAINTENANCE TIPS
But, silver tends to tarnish, creating a dirty or old-looking appearance. Whether you have your great-grandmother’s silver or you found antique silver at an antique shop, proper care and maintenance is required to preserve its beauty and keep it looking its best. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you clean, polish, and maintain your antique silver.
WHY PEOPLE LOVE SILVER AND WHERE YOU CAN FIND ITSilver is a precious metal that is often used in jewelry but can also be used for both functional and decorative items in your home. Traditionally, silver has been used to make things such as:
- Flatware and silverware
- Serving trays and dishes
- Decorative items
WHAT CAUSES SILVER TO TARNISH?Tarnish on silver is actually the result of a chemical reaction between the silver and sulfur-containing substances in the air. The silver combines with sulfur and forms silver sulfide, which is black in appearance. When a thin coating of silver sulfide forms on the surface of silver, it darkens the silver. That’s what we call ‘tarnish.’
HOW TO CLEAN ANTIQUE SILVERIt’s important to use proper care and attention to keep your silver looking beautiful. Here are some steps to clean and polish your silver.
- Dust the silver with a clean, soft cloth or a soft-bristled brush. Dust particles can be gritty and may scratch your silver.
- If there is wax on your silver piece (such as a candlestick), remove it by running the wax under hot water and scraping it gently with your fingers.
- Wash in warm, soapy water. Dishwashing soap is best. Do not leave your silver soaking in water as this can damage it.
- Rinse thoroughly, in distilled water if possible.
- Dry silver using a clean, lint-free cloth. You can use a hair dryer on the lowest setting to dry hard-to-reach places such as the space between fork tines.
- Put on plastic gloves (such as nitrile, PVC and vinyl) to polish silver. Rubber gloves (such as latex gloves) may react with the silver and cause it to tarnish. Place silver on a soft towel to polish it.
- Apply a non-toxic silver polish. Use a lint-free cloth and cotton swabs to get hard-to-reach areas. Apply in a gentle, circular motion.
- Once the silver is coated and shining, stop polishing. Too much polishing can wear away silver plating.
Using this process will restore your silver, making it look as good as new. You can also remove tarnish on silver through a chemical reaction you can create at home with items you have in your pantry.
TIPS FOR PREVENTING SILVER FROM TARNISHING
There is no way to completely prevent tarnish from forming on your silver, but there are some things you can do to slow tarnish and minimize the amount of polishing you need to do.
The first option is to apply a safe and non-toxic sealer to your silver. Some people recommend wax, but that’s not ideal for anything that you serve food in or eat with. Choosing a sealer that’s free of harsh chemicals, food-safe, and safe to use around kids and pets is essential.
You may also choose to store your silver in special anti-tarnish bags or wrap it in anti-tarnish paper. Humidity is a primary contributor to tarnish so, if you can, store your silver in a humidity-controlled room. The ideal humidity level for silver is 40%.
We recommend treating your silver with a sealer. While the sealer can’t completely prevent tarnish, it can help to extend the life of your silver by minimizing the amount of time you’ll need to spend cleaning and polishing it.
Silver flatware and decorative items can be a beautiful addition to any home if you clean and care for them properly. The tips we’ve included here will help you to clean and maintain your silver, so you can enjoy it for years to come, and pass it down to the next generation.