Whether you own heirloom silver, have special finds from garage sales or antique stores, or wear silver bracelets or necklaces, at some point, you need to clean all of these pieces to restore them to their beautiful lustre. Silver tarnishes because some of the alloys in the material react to elements like sulphur, which are naturally occurring in the air. This results in discolouration that dulls silver's brilliant, shiny finish. There are a number of methods available, and you can find the cleaning products on eBay or at any local department store to help with the process.
Natural methods are the safest to use on silver items because you have the least chance of damaging the item and lowering the value. You may have many of these items around the home already.
Using simple dish soap, warm water, and a bit of hard work is one solution to removing dirt and discolouration. Use a toothbrush to get into tight areas, such as between chain links. Always use a soft cloth to dry and polish the piece to prevent scratches. Try this method first to prevent any damage that may lower the value of the piece.
Place silver into a non-coated aluminium pot and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon baking soda, and bring to a boil for three minutes. Take the silver out of the pot, and let it cool. Next, wash the pieces with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. To finish, use a dry, soft cloth to remove moisture and polish. There is a chemical reaction between the baking soda, the aluminium, and the silver, which reverses the tarnishing process.
Apply toothpaste with a clean, soft cloth and rub into the silver item. Then, take a soft toothbrush to get into any filigree or crevices, rinse with warm water, and repeat the process, if needed. Clean with soap and warm water to remove any leftover paste, and dry and polish with a soft cloth.
Silver polishing cloths , also called waddings, hold an organic solvent, which, with persistence and a little hard work, polishes your silver nicely. Just apply the cloth to the surface and rub or buff until the tarnish is gone. These cloths are a good alternative for pieces that cannot have water contact. Polishing cloths can leave a small amount of abrasive residue behind, which you can remove with a very soft brush or soft linen cloth.
Chemical methods are another option when restoring silver. The most common methods include silver dip and silver polishing cream.
Chemical, pre-packaged silver dip is one of the simplest silver restoration methods. Chemical dips normally have an acid base and dissolve tarnish at an expedited rate. To use, just pour into a container, preferable glass, and dip the piece into the liquid. After the dipping process, wash the piece with a mild soap and water to remove any residue, and then dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
There are a number of silver pastes and creams available as well. Creams are an efficient way to hand polish silver antiques. Spread a thin layer of cream on the piece, and once dry, buff with a soft cloth. When done, rinse with a mild soap and plenty of water. Dry completely before storing.
Chemical, store-bought silver dips are one of the fastest ways to bring a tarnished piece of silver back to a bright, polished piece. Even though they are very popular, do not use if you are a collector of silver. First, silver dip removes the darkened areas that give pieces a relief effect. Second, in order to clean the residue left from the dip, you need to use an abrasive cleaner such as cleanser, which lowers the value of the piece. Coin collectors have the most to lose by this method, as the relief effect on coins is a major part of their value.
eBay has a number of options for finding the right silver pieces and silver restoration tools. The easiest is eBay's search box, which is conveniently located on each page. Using general search terms like antiques, jewellery, restoration, or silver returns a number of possibilities. The site also has an advanced search feature that results in targeted listings for more specific items, such as silver cleaning tools or silver coins. Regardless of which cleaning method you choose, your silver looks its best after you restore it to its original condition.