How to remove tarnish from silver - une femme d'un certain âge

What’s new chez nous: loving these last weeks of autumn

I love this interval between Thanksgiving and the second week of December. It’s already beginning to feel festive. But with Hanukkah coming a bit later this year, the holiday rush hasn’t yet kicked in, so there’s a bit of breathing room to just enjoy it.

Colorful fall leaves on the ground.

The weather’s been fall-delightful: chilly at night, mild during the day. What little fall color we get in our part of Southern California comes mostly from non-native Liquidambar trees. I’m so glad I decided to plant one some 20 years ago to replace a pine that had succumbed to bark beetle. Those colors just make my heart sing.

The light is just gorgeous this time of year too.

Enjoying the best at home

I’ve never been a super domestic type. My focus has always been more on outside world: work, travel, style. But lately I’ve been casting my eye about and thinking the ol’ homestead could use a bit of sprucing up. We’ve been living with the same (mostly inherited) furniture for well over a decade now, and it’s feeling a bit tired and drab. I may get serious about some re-decorating next year.

In the meantime, one small step. As I was emptying the dishwasher yesterday, I thought, why do we keep using this “meh” set of stainless when we have 3 beautiful sets of silverware inherited from various grandparents just sitting in cabinets? So I pulled out the set that was easiest to get to, and decided to swap it out with the stainless.

It’s one of my Grandmother’s sets, and probably close to 100 years old. Some of the pieces were pretty tarnished, so I decided to try the easy tarnish removal method I’ve been reading about for years.

Easy method to remove tarnish from silver flatware

Trying the aluminum foil method to remove tarnish from silver. Before, antique silver pieces, some with considerable tarnish.

Above, some of the most tarnished pieces. (There were about six different sizes of tongs in with the serving pieces; other than sugar cubes or ice cubes, I’m not at all certain what they were all used for.)

This method is easy:

  • line a glass pan with foil, lay out the silver pieces
  • boil enough water to cover the pieces
  • add 1/2 cup baking soda to the hot water (careful, it foams up!)
  • pour over the silver and let sit for a few minutes
  • some pieces take longer than others, remove each once the tarnish seems to be gone
  • rinse well

It works like a charm!

Antique silver pieces after removing tarnish. Bright and ready to use!

Some of the pieces had to “bathe” a little longer, and I hit a couple of the more stubborn spots with silver polish afterward, but I’m happy with the result and that I didn’t have to spend all day polishing.

The best way to keep your silver bright and tarnish-free is to USE it, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Do you have a favorite method for cleaning silver?

From the sales…

I didn’t buy much during the Black Friday sales this year, and a couple of the pieces I did buy are already sold out. (Though they may be re-stocked, will keep an eye open.) I ordered this puffer jacket during the “early bird” part of the sale, received it on Friday, and have been wearing it out to walk the dog the last couple of nights. It’s warm but not too warm for our coolest weather, and I LOVE this green!

It’s 50% off plus an additional 10% with code CYBER. There are a few other colors, though this one currently has the most size availability. I purchased the leopard print cashmere sweater a few weeks ago, and now that it’s cooler have been wearing it quite often. It’s currently 44% off + additional 10% with code CYBER. And it’s still available in sizes XX-Small to XX-Large (I’m wearing Small in both the jacket and sweater.)

The jeans (rag & bone “dre” in Julienne) are 30% off. These run large; I’m wearing size 26.

A quick note…

Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter may have seen that Brian + MW is having a cyber sale with 20% off sitewide and a free mascara with purchase over $200. There was a glitch with the site Saturday morning and the discount wasn’t reflecting, but it’s been fixed now, and his promotion is still on.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Stay in touch.

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28 Comments

  1. Marilyn
    November 28, 2022 / 4:34 am

    I absolutely love your idea of using stuff in your collections. I’ve asked myself often why I don’t do that and have switched my attitude to using all my stuff – it does no one any good sitting in a cabinet or boxes in my jewelry drawer. It’s like shopping my own store. My daughter has been encouraging this too and your post today spurred me on – thanks. I have not used your method of cleaning silver but most certainly will try it. I would much rather do that than use chemicals. You are very right about silver – use it and then it requires very little work. I sold china and silver for many years and learned you can put fine china in the dishwasher – it is very durable and I’ve never had any issues with that. The secret is to pack the dishwasher with nothing touching. If you don’t believe me, put a saucer in the dishwasher and leave it for a few months – you’ll see 🙂

  2. Sharon
    November 28, 2022 / 4:57 am

    I inherited a lovely silver set by Wallace Silver. Called Wallace for instructions on care, and was surprised to be told to wash it in the dishwasher.
    The only warning was to separate the silver from stainless. So for years we have been enjoying our silver and washing it in the DW. I put it on
    The top tray(shelf) just to make sure it’s not touching any stainless flatware. Works great!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 28, 2022 / 6:59 am

      Yes, my step-mom told me about the dishwasher a few years ago and have been using it for silver ever since, just not mixing with stainless. (From what I understand, it’s the stainless that’s at risk of damage, not the silver.)

      • Karin
        November 28, 2022 / 3:52 pm

        Good to know! My husband mistakenly put a slightly tarnished silver serving spoon in the dishwasher after Thanksgiving. I thought it would be ruined, but it came out sparkling clean. Now, that’s an easy way to get rid of tarnish!

  3. RoseAG
    November 28, 2022 / 5:07 am

    I like your set of silver.
    The piece on the far left looks like ‘Fairfax’ which is my silver pattern.
    At this point I have a couple of patterns in my silver drawer and love to put them out.

    I got a collection of dining forks from my MIL that I pull out when I have more than 12 people over.
    If I have that many people then they’re sitting here and there around the house and I figure a fork will do for most everything and they don’t have anyplace to put other utensils anyway.

  4. Carol L Stadler
    November 28, 2022 / 5:23 am

    The easiest way I found to clean silver was to give it to my daughters. Now I enjoy it at their homes.

  5. Gae Nunes
    November 28, 2022 / 6:41 am

    I will have to try your silver tarnish removal trick. Thanks for posting and sharing. Oh, by the way, tongs were used to retrieve various foods from serving platters such as pickles,(there would have been a crystal/cut glass and silver jar for the pickles), olives. tomatoes, biscuits. scones, petite fours, etc. A Victorian or Edwardian would never use their eating utensils or fingers. There might be a guide somewhere on line to identify the various pieces to a complete set of silver. They used so many different pieces, each with a specific food item that was served. So glad we have simplified it now.

  6. Jane
    November 28, 2022 / 7:27 am

    We recently downsized, leaving our partially furnished home for our daughter to live in. There wasn’t enough stainless for two households so I took a few settings of stainless to use while cooking and much more silver for eating and serving. It’s a great solution. Why didn’t I get out my beautiful silver earlier and use it daily?

  7. Sally
    November 28, 2022 / 7:59 am

    Great trick for the silver, Susan! Our friends have a set of stainless and a set of silver at the ready to use however and whenever they like. I inherited from my mother’s family but much of it went to my brother and his wife or was lost in the Tubb’s Fire. So we’re quite downsized ;-). I went ahead and invested in the Crew puffer and sweater–hoping to gradually divest my closet of the gray clothing little by little. Getting rid of the black was a huge event and I’ve noticed that I still have a handful of EF blacks. We’re enjoying a beautiful fall in California aren’t we??

  8. Alexis
    November 28, 2022 / 8:08 am

    I will definitely be trying out the silver cleaning method you shared! I have been trying to incorporate more of the things that I own from my mother and grandmother into my everyday use – there’s really no point in saving it for some future occasion!
    That green jacket is a great color on you!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 28, 2022 / 8:54 am

      Thanks, Alexis!

  9. Lisa
    November 28, 2022 / 8:49 am

    That jacket is absolutely awesome on you!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 28, 2022 / 8:54 am

      thanks, Lisa!

  10. Patricia Fenstermaker
    November 28, 2022 / 9:21 am

    I have registered for an appt with you do have my color consultation. Do I just wait now to hear from you concerning method of payment and directions?

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 28, 2022 / 9:23 am

      Wonderful, I look forward to meeting you! I’ll be sending you directions and details via email in a couple of days.

  11. Penny
    November 28, 2022 / 9:48 am

    I was always told by my antique dealer father that you should never submerge weighted (sometimes called hollow handled) pieces in water –knives, pie servers — because of the danger of the glue dissolving where the silver handle joins to the blade, which is usually stainless steel.
    You then run the risk of water getting inside the handle and creating corrosion on the inside and generally messing up whatever material is used as a weight inside the handle.
    I’ve read that newer, non-antique, pieces use a different glue which is more durable.

    • Mary
      November 28, 2022 / 3:30 pm

      My mother told me the same thing so I never put my sterling knives in the dishwasher.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 28, 2022 / 5:59 pm

      That makes sense. I’ve been hand washing my silver knives because the blades are stainless, so will continue to do so.

      • Penny
        November 28, 2022 / 6:28 pm

        You might want to do the same with your pie servers, too

  12. susan
    November 28, 2022 / 11:45 am

    I love the idea this post puts forth about using the old with the present. I have silver from before…… the. Civil. War.It was in my mothers family in New Orleans. Imagine me eating some tofu or greek yogurt with a French spoon from 1850………..

  13. Susan
    November 28, 2022 / 12:27 pm

    Hi Susan. Love your blog. I’ve been using my grandmothers pointed antique silver from her wedding in 1910 for 46 years. It goes in the DW but we noticed it was getting dull. Switched from cascade premium to cascade complete. Some soaps are too harsh.

  14. Valancy Blackwell
    November 28, 2022 / 1:33 pm

    I love the jacket, but curious about sleeve length. I always purchase Petite-sized jackets so I don’t have to cuff or alter the sleeves. Does this hit at your wrist?

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 28, 2022 / 6:51 pm

      Hi Valancy, I actually find the sleeve length is good, hits just at the bottom of my wrist, not too long!

  15. Claire
    November 28, 2022 / 3:46 pm

    The year I turned 45 (quite a ways back now!) I decided I didn’t want to save my sterling flatware just for holidays. So I started using it for everyday. I’m so glad I did that. It makes me happy. I put it in the dishwasher, separated from any stainless. My best tip is to not use any dishwasher detergent that has lemon in it. That seems to speed up the tarnishing. The other thing I do is to keep a coffee mug in the corner of the counter and when a piece starts looking bad I put it in there. Once I have almost no forks, (eggs turn the tines black) I polish up what’s in the cup. About once a year I polish everything in the silver drawer while I’m watching a movie. My favorite polish is Cape Cod, but almost all of them work just fine.

  16. Ellen Griesemer
    November 28, 2022 / 4:59 pm

    Do you think your method for tarnish removal would work for silverplate? My silverplate does tarnish and I have successfully used regular silver polish on it. I am afraid to put it in the dishwasher though.

  17. Mary Ann
    November 28, 2022 / 5:46 pm

    I use one of the store bought roasters for turkeys sold in the market, very in expensive. Use the same hot water and etc.
    I also collect hotel silver and it works fine for any silver plate. I am always careful with my sterling.

  18. No Fear of Fashion
    November 29, 2022 / 9:11 am

    Beautiful green jacket. I wish I could wear such short jackets. It just doesn’t look good on an inverted triangle shape.
    Your top and jeans are evergreens of course.
    I tell you why people don’t use silver cutlery. You cannot put it in the dishwasher. And you might be using it, but you will have to polish it once or twice a year. The method you used for cleaning will work better of course, when the silver isn’t as tarnished as it has been.
    As for the sprucing up of the living room, I cannot wait to see the result.
    Greetje

  19. joyce
    November 29, 2022 / 9:14 am

    I use this tarnish remover on my David Yurman pieces….and on my gold, 14kt & 18kt necklaces and bracelets..
    They come out sparkling. I also lightly use a rouge cloth after the dip.

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