Antique silver, if you provide proper care, looks fabulous, adding understated sophistication to your home. From jewellery to jugs and cutlery, there is a huge range of antique silver to choose from. Regardless of what type of antique silver items you choose, the care is the same. Knowing how to properly care for your antique silver ensures your collection remains in top condition, avoids damage, and extends the life span considerably.
How to Clean Antique Silver
Contrary to popular belief, antique silver does not require regular polishing with silver polish and harsh chemicals. Whether you use your antique silver daily or keep it tucked away for special occasions, too much cleaning and polishing is damaging. To minimise the frequency with which you need to polish your antique silver, dust or polish it with a very soft cloth, such as microfibre. For cutlery and other items that get frequent use, wash them in hot soapy water using a microfibre cloth and then dry them thoroughly. Avoid standard metal cleaners when you do need something stronger to clean your silver, and opt for a high-quality silver cleaner or silver polish. Choose silver cleaner-impregnated gloves for easy cleaning, silver dip, or a tub of silver cleaner and cotton swabs. Whichever method you choose, make sure, as you clean, to continually move to a clean area of cloth, as the black tarnish and debris you remove contains abrasive particles that can scratch the silver. After cleaning, dry the piece thoroughly and polish with a tarnish-preventing silver polish.
How to Store Antique Silver
Store your antique silver in airtight containers, as this reduces tarnishing. Line the container with an anti-tarnish silver cloth or anti-tarnish silver paper. Do not store silver with other metals. Restricting airflow and preventing your silver from coming into contact with other metals significantly reduces the rate at which silver tarnishes. For silver you leave on display, use Renaissance wax, as by coating your silver in a thin layer of this wax, you protect it from tarnishing agents in the air, and reduce the frequency with which you have to clean it.
How to Avoid Damaging Antique Silver
Avoid damage to your antique silver by never letting it come into contact with stainless steel. When silver and stainless steel touch, a reaction occurs which causes the silver to pit and blacken. This is serious damage that is impossible to reverse. Never wash antique silver in the dishwasher. Flying debris scratches the silver. Additionally, salts used in the dishwasher pit, scratch, and discolour the silver, causing irreversible damage. Salt corrodes silver, so never place salt in a silver object unless it has a glass lining or has a layer of guilt inside. Antique salt cellars generally contain a guilt lining that protects the silver, so the salt does not harm the silver.