Storing and Caring for Silver

ďI love silver, but you have to polish it!Ē

Here are some random facts about silver cutlery:

1.If you use it regularly it doesnít tarnish- you unknowingly polish it every time you pick it up.

2.If you store it properly it doesnít tarnish.

3.If itís tarnished, Hotel Dip will remove the tarnish in under 10 seconds. Your only effort is drying it by hand.

4.With modern powder it DOES go in the dishwasher! (but itís best dried by hand).

With modern products and modern techniques silver has actually never been so easy to care for. However, it still carries the stigma of being more effort than itís worth. This is mostly the hangover of a generation ago, where silver did require a degree of ďelbow greaseĒ to bring up a nice shine and keep the tarnish off.

Of all types of silverware, cutlery is the easiest to keep bright and untarnished, and with a minimum of effort.

The first and most important point is how your silver or silver plated cutlery is stored. The ideal method is in a tarnish proof cutlery roll such as those by Hagerty (link to product?), placed inside a Tupperware box, ziplock bag, or other airtight container. Tarnish is simply a chemical reaction to the oxygen in the air (oxidisation). A tarnish proof bag will massively reduce the rate of oxidisation, and in an airtight container further prevents oxidisation by limiting the quantity of oxygen the cutlery is exposed to.

For those of us who use our cutlery every day the minute quantity of oxidisation built up each week is wiped away by being handled and washed before it has a chance to build up to any visible degree. I have eaten my cornflakes with a silver spoon every morning for five years, and I havenít polished it once in that time. What about after use? Silver is, of course, no different to stainless steel in the respect that it needs to be cleaned after use! Traditionally this was done by hand, and many people still prefer to wash their cutlery in this way now, with nothing more than warm soapy water.

However, there really isnít anything wrong with putting silver cutlery in the dishwasher! Years ago when detergents were harsher this was not ideal, and took away a tiny portion of silver each time. However, now dishwasher chemicals are much softer and less abrasive, and no more damaging to silver than polish. The trick is to take it out before the drying cycle, and to dry by hand. This isnít because drying the silver in the dishwasher is damaging in any way, but instead because the evaporating water oxidises the silver slightly, and it comes out with a yellow tinge which then necessitates one to polish it! I should point out at this stage that old silver knives are best washed by hand, as they are often filled with pitch which will expand over time, and cause the blades to become unset. Newer knives are soldered to the steel blades and therefore watertight.

What if I have let my cutlery become tarnished?

In this instance too, there isnít really much of a problem. Oxidised or black cutlery is easily cleaned with silver dip, or ďHotel DipĒ which lifts the tarnish in a few seconds. Then rinse with warm water and dry by hand. Cleaning a full 84pc canteen using this method takes less than 10 minutes.

For more advice on caring for your silverware, or what products are best to use, please feel free to contact us.

Article by James Baldwin

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