How to Polish Silver

There's no substitute for a beautiful piece of silver in the home.  It shines brilliantly and feels extra luxurious even in the most casual settings.  We don't have a full set of silverware (its so expensive!) so once in a while Peter will gift me another fork or spoon before a dinner party or on a special occasion.  Tip: It's relatively easy to collect vintage servingware at a reasonable cost, so even if your guests aren't dining with silver, the table will have a fancy finish.  But silver has its own set of cleaning rules.  First, it tarnishes over time because of exposure to the air.  You'll need to clean any silver item that you keep on display every six weeks or so (or sooner if you're very diligent).  Second, even silverware that you keep stored in felt/cotton pouches has a special cleaning routine after a meal.  Never go to bed after a dinner party without at least rinsing the silver.  Any acid from the food could permanently damage the silver if left overnight.  You can actually put silver in the dishwasher - my grandmother, who uses her full set of (now vintage!) Tiffany's silver for special occasions, always puts the silver in the dishwasher.  Just make sure that any stainless steel pieces of flatware (or knives, etc) are completely separate from the silver and don't interact during the wash cycle.  If you hand wash, use a hanes t-shirt (or other cotton cloth) to clean and dry.  Most sponges are too rough and will leave scratches.

We have a silver plated tray (purchased from Michael C. Fina) that we always display.  Over time it starts to get a spotty patina that isn't too pretty to look at.  The great news is, it's incredibly easy to polish.  Cape Cod metal polishing cloths are available at all hardware stores and they are reusable.  Just wipe down the surface of the silver with a polishing cloth, making sure to get inside any grooves on the item and inside any engraving.  Scrub a little bit on any tough spots.  After the item looks polished, wash with warm water and just a touch of soap using a hanes t-shirt (or other cotton cloth) both to wash and dry the item.  Even though silverware is stored to avoid exposure to the air, silverware will occasionally need to be polished as well.

How do you feel about silver?  Would you place silverware on your wedding registry?  Is it too old-fashioned or a classic must-have?  I'd love to hear!  Send me a note to or through the correspondence page!