All silver will tarnish when it’s exposed to air and light, but restoring it to its original gleam is quite easy. “You can clean all your silver objects the same way. You just have to be careful if you are cleaning something that shouldn’t be immersed or rinsed in water, like a picture frame,” Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.
How to clean silver
“The only way to prevent tarnish from coming back is by using a silver polish,” says Forte. She recommends Good Housekeeping Seal holder Weiman Silver Polish ($8, amazon.com). When tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute, this product cleaned flatware in under a minute. To use it, follow these steps:
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1. Put a small amount on a clean cloth, dampened if necessary.
2. Rub the polish on your item in an up-and-down motion, not circular to avoid highlighting fine scratches.
3. Turn the cloth frequently as you work, so tarnish isn’t deposited back on your item.
4. Rinse in warm water and buff with a clean, dry cloth to shine.
Short on time? Weiman also offers its polish in a wipe form ($4, amazon.com).
What to use if you don’t have polish
“In a pinch, you can use a few cleaners you have at home, but I wouldn’t polish all 12 of my place settings this way,” Forte warns. For items that are dull, filmy or just starting to discolor, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water and dip in a soft cloth. Rub the jewelry, then rinse in cool water and buff with a cloth until dry.
For heavier tarnish, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels, which can scratch). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry.
How to stop tarnish
1. Store each piece of jewelry in its own anti-tarnish bag and keep it in a cool, dry spot.
2. Put a piece of chalk in your anti-tarnish bag to remove moisture from the air.
3. Take jewelry off before cleaning so the chemicals in your cleaners won’t damage your silver.
4. Put jewelry on after your perfume to prevent any of it from sticking to your silver when you apply.
5. Don’t be afraid to wear your silver: Friction slows down tarnishing so the more you wear it, the more it’ll shine.