Clean Silver Flatware: Traditional and Homemade Methods
The Good Way
Gather a few thick, soft cloths and silver polish.
Always follow your product's label directions, but typically, you'll start by putting a small amount of polish onto the cloth, dampened if necessary.
Rub the polish onto one utensil at a time, going in an up-and-down, not circular, motion to avoid highlighting fine scratches. Work polish into tight areas (between fork tines and into pattern crevices); add more to your cloth if necessary. Turn the cloth frequently as you work, so tarnish isn't deposited back on your silver. Depending on the polish and the darkness of the tarnish, it'll take anywhere from 45 seconds to a few minutes per utensil (longer for larger pieces).
Rinse the cleaned items in warm water; buff to a shine with a clean, dry, soft cloth. Admire your handiwork.
The Good Enough Way
This faster method uses a reaction between aluminum foil and tarnish, where the latter "jumps" from the silver to the foil. Note: For pieces with hollow handles or glued sections that can be damaged by soaking, or those where antiqued areas are part of the decoration, stick to the Good Way described above.
Collect forks, spoons, and other basic pieces. Line a plastic (not metal) basin with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Place the silver inside. Make sure all pieces are contacting the foil or touching a utensil that is.
Sprinkle in 1/4 cup washing soda (find it at grocery stores). Pour in 1 gallon boiling water. Stir and let the silver soak 10 to 15 minutes.
Wearing rubber gloves, remove the silver. Rinse, and buff with a clean, soft cloth. For very tarnished items, repeat the process.
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