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How to Properly Clean Silver Jewelry, Plates, and Cutlery, According to an Expert

No matter how well you care for your silver jewelry, dishes, and cutlery, they will naturally tarnish over time. But since no one wants to host a dinner party with dingy place settings, it’s important to learn how to clean silver quickly and efficiently a.k.a. before your guests show up at the door. While you can’t necessarily prevent tarnish from air and light exposure, follow this silver cleaning guide from Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab to restore its original gleam. Good news: It doesn’t take much effort to make your silver sparkle again, and you can follow the same methods for all objects, no matter how luxe.

How to Clean Silver

Sure, wiping your object with a microfiber cloth removes dust, but it fails to bring back the silver’s shine. To get rid of tarnish and prevent it from coming back, use a targeted silver polish like Good Housekeeping Seal Star Weiman Silver Polish. If you’re unsure of how to properly polish your silver, follow this step-by-step:

  1. Put a small amount of silver polish 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.

If You’re Out of Polish, Try These Homemade Cleaners

Without a doubt, targeted polish is the most effective way to keep your silver clean. But if you’re in a pinch, you can turn to your pantry for homemade remedies.

For silver that is dull, filmy, or not yet discolored, 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). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry.

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