Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cleaning Silverplate the Easy Way

In my recent Sunflower Tablescape, I used a vintage set of Oneida silverplate utensils I had purchased very inexpensively at an estate sale. It sat for more than a year in storage, simply because it was tarnished and I didn't want to clean it. I wanted a quick fix so I could use it in my tablescape.
Tarnished Silverplate Before Soaking
I remotely remembered a quick-soak method of cleaning silverplate, but after realizing I hadn't pinned the recipe to any of my Pinterest boards, I Googled it. I found one, which was pretty loose in its measures, so I winged it.

DISCLAIMER: Try this method of cleaning your silverplate at your own risk. I am not recommending this method for sterling silver, and do not make any guarantees or warranties for your outcome. Mine was inexpensive silverplate, so I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Ingredients for Quick Soak
The recipe calls for:
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Hot water (I filled the pot in the photo above, and heated to just before boiling)
  • Table salt
  • Baking Soda
  • Clean Towels 
  • Tongs (not pictured)
  • Line a wash basin (I used my utility sink, which is nice and big) with aluminum foil
  • Measure at least 2 TBSP each of baking soda and salt; sprinkle into the basin
  • Pour hot water into basin CAREFULLY  
  • Place your tarnished silverplate in the basin, making sure the foil touches the utensils, but no utensils overlap (do as I say, not as I do, lol, and see comments below). 
  • Use the tongs to carefully turn and eventually lift the utensils out of the soak (the utensils will be very hot to touch!), once you're pleased with the clean and shiny appearance. This only took about five minutes. That's it! 
Utensils, Soaking
You'll notice as the tarnish goes away, the aluminum foil darkens. I ended up repeating the process because of not following directions, as those pieces touching each other and not the foil needed a repeat soak. When completely finished lifting all the utensils from the soaking, I rid the sink of the dirty water and foil, and rinsed the utensils before drying each with the towels.

Once completely dry, I placed all the utensils back into a plastic tub for storage. Here's the best and most inexpensive trick I learned long ago for storing silverplate: silica gel packs. Yes, save those little packs every time you buy new shoes (and many other items), and they're part of the packaging! I use them with my sterling too. I like patina also, but sometimes I prefer the shiny, and the silica gel packs help keep the moisture out and minimize tarnish for longer periods. Of course, if you store your silverplate in felt chests, drawers or bags, you're already minimizing tarnish, but I even place the silica gel packs inside those felted protectors.
Utensils, After the Soak, with Silica Gel Packs for Storage
I have no idea what the physical or chemical science is behind this easy approach to cleaning silverplate, and my outcome was not perfect (due to my impatience), but it worked pretty well. I did notice a couple utensils with a bit of excessive plate wear afterward, but I did not inspect each piece carefully prior to my experiment to be able to say whether or not the soak was the cause or not. Mine was old silverplate to start with, so it may have just been age or how it was treated in its previous life. 
So, there you have it - cleaning silverplate the easy way. If nothing else, you can take away the trick of using the silica gel packs for minimizing tarnish. Those packs are good for a lot of other things too. I have it pinned to my Home Decor board on Pinterest if you're interested in repinning, but please do so from the original source. 

Have you ever tried this soaking method for cleaning silverplate, and how did it work for you? Did you do anything differently? Please share!

Thanks for your visit.
Rita C. at Panoply
(Thank you to Kathy at A Delightsome Life's Home and Garden Thursday Party and Richella at Imparting Grace's Grace at Home No. 175 for featuring this post!)

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