With the holiday season fast approaching, and family now spread far and wide, I (probably like a lot of people) find myself reminiscing about times past when we were all together. I remember my mom preparing for family dinners and other festive occasions when the special china would come out of the cupboard, and the silver would be taken out of drawers and unwrapped.
Because the pieces only got used a few times a year, they were always tarnished. When I was a kid, it was my job to polish and clean them, and I was always so proud to be given that responsibility. I knew that nobody wanted to eat from dirty looking silver.
I would spend a few hours polishing the forks and knives, the cream and sugar pots, all while listening to my mom tell stories about who the silver had belonged to, and how it had been handed down. So many great memories.
(Except for the smell. That was sometimes hard to get past. But I still wouldn’t trade the experiences and stories for anything).
Nowadays, people don’t always have the time to spend hours polishing, and they have become more environmentally conscious regarding the use of chemicals for certain chores. So what do you do if you still want shiny silver on your holiday table, but without the time, mess, and reliance on chemicals?
The Natural Way
It turns out, there is a great way to clean your silver using everyday ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen: vinegar, salt, baking soda, boiling water, and aluminum foil. Best of all, it only takes about 5 minutes! It is not recommended for pieces of jewelry that contain other gemstones or metals. You should stick to traditional jewelry cleaning methods for those.
It should also be mentioned that this is not a process that you want to use repeatedly, as it could permanently remove the patina from your silver, which will allow the tarnish to come back even stronger the next time. But in a pinch once or twice a year, on silver cutlery or bigger pieces, it is a method you should definitely try.
What You Will Need
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 cup boiling water
- Aluminum foil
- Glass dish or bowl
- Rags or clean towel (microfiber works very well for this)
How to Proceed
- Take the dish (or bowl) and put a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, so that it lies flat in the bottom of the dish.
- Combine the salt and baking soda, then sprinkle the mixture evenly into the dish, being careful to keep it on top of the aluminum foil.
- Add the vinegar. You should see some bubbling; this is the natural reaction starting.
- Pour in the boiling water.
- Put the silver in the dish.
- Leave for 1-5 minutes, depending on the amount of tarnish. Heavier soiled pieces should be left in for longer.
- Remove from solution, dry thoroughly.
- Buff to a shine with a clean, soft towel.
And there you have it! If they still seem a little lackluster, you could always spot touch them with some polish. But for the most part, you should have silver pieces that are shiny and will put a sparkle on any holiday table, just like Mom used to have.
Take a look at the video below to see the full process and end results!
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Source: Tips For The Home