Do you have silver items that need cleaning? Many homes may be full of silver items. Silver may be in the form of candle holders, coasters for cups and glasses, place-mats and of course jewelry and broaches. Cleaning metals can be an onerous task, which many of use despise; but really, there can be a huge sense of satisfaction when you see beautiful metal objects gleaming. One of our writers likes machinery. Normally cars and bikes, but they are fond of any kind of machine that has a good purpose or looks great. This writer will spend a considerable amount of time making sure that every last detail of their motorcycle is clean and sparkling before taking it out for a ride (and getting it dirty again). We appreciate this and think that when you clean jewelry and household items, you will be able to get the same ‘buzz’ and sense of satisfaction as our writer does when their bike is cleaned.
Now, silver can tarnish and so care is needed. Silver is a tough metal and most silver jewelry is made from a relatively pure alloy of the metal (alloy meaning a mixture of metals). The reason why silver (and gold for that matter) is not completely pure is that there are naturally impurities within metals and also that during manufacture, extra metals are added to make the silver (or gold) shine and be more robust, harder or easily shaped depending on its intended purpose.
There are some products such as silver wadding that can be great. There are also several sprays and cloths available. However, here we are going to focus on a home cleaning technique that uses resources that are usually inexpensive and available in many homes. Please just follow the steps below to get clean silver. Please try on an inconspicuous area of an inexpensive piece of silverware first to ensure that there are no problems. We cannot be held responsible for any damage or other liability caused, no matter how it has occurred. Always take suitable safety precautions such as wearing protective clothing, gloves and eye ware before performing any household, maintenance or DIY task. Always perform tasks in a safe environment with suitable facilities available to cover unforeseen incidents should any misshapes occur.
Get a bowl (can be plastic or metal as long as it is suitably heat resistant). Ensure that the bowl is large enough for you to submerge the item or at least the majority of the item that will be on show (most jewelry will be submerged fully and a small receptacle will suffice, but larger items such as candle holders will only need the silver metal parts submerging, because the base may not be water resistant).
Line the bowl with foil (baking foil aka ‘tin’ foil) that can be purchased from most supermarkets. You must use standard food grade foil, suitable for purpose. Please line with the shiny side up (i.e. the dull side of the foil against the bowl). Incidentally, if you have ever wondered why one side of foil is shiny and the other isn’t, it is because the dull side has a coating on it, which is designed to prevent the foil sticking to food during cooking. This coating can be made from various materials depending on the manufacturer.
Fill the bowl half way with hot water (water that has been boiled and left to come off the boil for a few moments). Add two to three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda (may be sold as baking powder) per litre (approximately 35 fl oz) of water to the bowl of water and stir to dissolve.
Add the silver item as explained, ensuring that at least part of the silver metal is in contact with the foil.
If the silver item is not covered satisfactorily, add more water. If more than 1 litre of water is added, add another two spoons of bicarbonate of soda per litre and stir gently around the silver to dissolve. We recommend using a softer plastic rod or spatula to stir to ensure no scratches occur).
Leave the silver item for two to five minutes until any tarnishing and dirt has been removed. Repeat this up to four times for badly tarnished silver. You will notice that the dark tarnishing and dirt simply bubbles and dissolves away with minimal effort.
Remove the silver and allow to dry. Use a very soft cotton cloth to dry if needed. Once dry, use a polishing cloth (usually very soft and cotton) to buff to a perfect shine. If further cleaning is needed at this stage, use a silver wadding purchased from most specialist shops to clean the final bits and make sparkle. In most cases this should not be required though.
Do not forget to dispose of everything used responsibly and safely. We hope that you have found this super useful for next time you clean your silver.
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