Care Guides: How to Clean Antique Silver

Care Guides: How to Clean Antique Silver

Setting the perfect table when entertaining guests is as much about the ambience as it is about the pieces you choose to use for serving and eating. If you’ve opted to go all-out with your entertainment and invested in a set of antique silverware, you’ll want to keep it looking sparkling whenever you dazzle guests. Learning how to clean antique silver can seem daunting, especially if you’ve chosen a special set or inherited one from someone you love. Luckily, with our care guide, you’ll have no trouble sensitively scouring your antique silver set so that it glistens and gleams. So whether it’s getting out that tough tarnishing or discovering how to clean those antique spoons, let us help you and read on below.

A bone handled silver fork resting on a ceramic plate.

Image: An antique silver serving fork. Vinterior Seller: The Urban Vintage Affair

How to clean your silver antique cutlery

It can seem like there’s no easy way to clean silver, especially decorative and highly ornate antique pieces, and it might even remind you of your grandparents pulling out their cutlery for an annual polish before the festive season. But it doesn’t need to be a laborious chore and with our easy silver cleaning tips, you’ll have everything shining again in no time. As with everything, prevention is better than cure and there are a few things you can do that will make cleaning your silverware simple. Below are some of the best things to do to keep your silverware sparkling:

  • Store your silver in an airtight container when it’s not in use. It might seem a little excessive, but by keeping your silver away from air exposure it is less likely to tarnish while being stored. Just ensure what you store your silverware in is dry and airtight.
  • Remove from the dishwasher instantly. Antique silverware can be run through a dishwasher cycle. However, it’s important to remove it as soon as the cycle is done and dry it thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth before storing it again.
  • If washing by hand, do it straight after eating. Leaving food on antique silverware can damage it permanently, in particular, if you’ve just eaten acidic or salty food. Use only warm soapy water and dry immediately.

A large silver serving spoon on a table

Image: Antique silver serving spoon. Vinterior Seller: The Urban Vintage Affair

How to clean heavily tarnished antique silver

If your silver trays and cutlery are heavily tarnished, don’t despair, you can still get them shined up and sparkling again in no time. Mix up a paste of water and baking soda and apply it to the tarnished areas. Then, with a clean dry nail brush, work the paste into the tarnished area in soft circular motions. Rinse the paste off your silverware with warm running water. If your pieces are still a little tarnished, repeat the process and then dry them with a clean cloth when you’re happy with how they look.

A large antique silver serving tray.

Image: Antique silver serving tray. Vinterior Seller: Paul Bennet

How to polish your antique silverware

To give your antique silver that final finishing flourishes, you’ll need to give it a good polish. Luckily, there are a few simple tricks to getting your silver service ready. A soft polishing cloth is usually the only thing you’ll need to get your silverware sparkling. Simply rub every piece all over until they glisten.

However, if you want to go the extra mile, line a ceramic bowl with foil and add in 1 part salt, 1 part baking soda, and 2 parts white vinegar.  Then, pour over boiling water and place your silverware into the solution carefully. Let them soak for between 5-10 minutes and then dry them thoroughly and give them a final shine as above.

A set of decorative antique silver ice cream spoons.

Image: Victorian silver ice cream spoons Vinterior Seller: The Urban Vintage Affair

How to store your antique silverware

As we said above, it’s important to store your antique silverware in an airtight container. However, part of the joy of owning antique silver cutlery is the joy of having a complete set, including its presentation box. If your set comes with a velvet-lined wooden box, ensure that this is vacuumed when empty and that it’s free of lint and debris when you place your silver back in it after use. This will help to reduce tarnishing and damage while it’s stored. Additionally, keeping your set housed in a cool, dark cupboard will further help to keep it looking shimmering at every use.

Antique silver forks and spoons on a linen tablecloth.

Image: Antique silver forks and spoons. Vinterior Seller: Happy Nancy’s Shoppy

Whether you’ve invested in an antique silverware set for your first home or you’ve had one handed down by a beloved family member, keep it in top condition with our guide above. Plus, if you have any other silverware care tips, share them with our community in the comments below.

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