How to Clean Silverplated Flatware Quickly & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #59 | Woman in Real Life:The Art of the Everyday

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Clean Silverplated Flatware Quickly & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #59


I have quite a bit of silverplated flatware, given to me by my mom. I haven't thus far used much of it for actual eating purposes. A lot of it was tarnished in what some people (including me) might consider kind of a beautiful way. But some of it was tarnished just a wee bit too much, even for those "rustic" food photos where we want a bit of tarnish to remain.

(By the way, in case you are in need of a definition for "silverplate" as opposed to silver, it's basically "a thin layer of silver electroplated or otherwise applied as a coating to another metal.") Recently, as I was setting up my new food photography table, I decided to take a stab at quickly cleaning my silverplated cutlery in preparation for future photos. Too lazy to polish each piece with some fancy store-bought silver cream, I decided to use this quick and inexpensive method for cleaning silverplate.

Line a glass baking dish with foil, shiny side up. Fill the dish with enough boiling water to cover your silverplated (or silver) flatware.

Add a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of salt (optional).

This alone may provide you with enough cleaning power to get your silverplated flatware shiny (or somewhat shiny). I put a couple of serving spoons (that had tarnished to the point of blackness) into this mixture and found an immediate effect.

Because I'm very short on patience, I then added 1/2 cup of vinegar to accelerate the process. Plus it's just sort of fun to watch the bubbly reaction caused by the vinegar! Things began to move a bit more quickly then. The reaction created by your "broth" transfers the tarnish from the silver pieces to the aluminum foil. Be forewarned if you are attempting this - it smells unpleasantly "eggy."

Here's what NOT to do - get so impatient that you cram a whole bunch of your cutlery into the dish. Ideally your pieces of flatware should not be touching each other. I threw in a whole bunch.

The cleaning effect can begin in just seconds, but generally I find that a few minutes is required. I found that the older, heavily tarnished pieces did not come clean with this process alone. Rubbing them gently with a cloth when you take them out of the water mixture helps, but I wanted to retain some of the tarnish for photos. The lightly tarnished silverplate forks and knives actually emerged from the mixture pretty darn shiny.

Just so you know, I have seen some silver experts advise against this process as you can potentially scratch your precious pieces dragging them along the foil. As well, you may remove the factory-created patina on your pieces and need to have it reapplied. Depends how picky you are about your silver or silverplated flatware, I suppose. (Clearly I'm not so picky.)

How do you take care of your silverplate and/or silver pieces? Any advice?

Linking to Vintage Charm.

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  1. Looks amazing Jo! Will you come do mine too?

    1. Sure! Only takes a few minutes. ;) Jo

  2. I have try lagostina pots cleaner on my dishwasher stain silverware utensil on and it works great!

  3. Hi Jo, I have been cleaning silver plate this week too. Love your clear instructions. Thank you for Vintage Bliss 59.

    1. Great minds think alike Joy. :) Thanks for visiting. Jo

  4. Great tip for cleaning silverware I could have used it last year when I had to clean a lot of silver It took me hours with the polish. I will keep these instructions in case I need to clean more silverware.
    Thanks for the party.
    Have a wonderful week.

    1. Good for you for your commitment to getting the job done! :) Have a wonderful week too Denise.


  5. my husband does pretty much this. He has some little silver plated shot glass thingies and wraps each one in foil, then they're gently boiled. It's always worked beautifully, but we do have a massive collection of silverplated flatware somewhere in storage. Can't wait to see your new food photography table-- the stuff of my dreams! I'm slowly working on clearing out our spare room and hope to set a table up by the window before the end of the year (yeah right...)

  6. Jo, thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm. I used this same process a few weeks ago and got results similar to yours.