Silver Cutlery: Storing and Cleaning


A lot of people enjoy eating with silver cutlery, and many of our clients turn assembling the perfect collection into a hobby. However, a common criticism is that it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain the shine of freshly polished silver. In this article, we will show that this is not necessarily true, and that a little effort can bring big rewards.

Facts About Cleaning Silver

1.If you use it regularly it does not tarnish- you unknowingly polish it every time you pick it up.

2.If you store it properly it does not tarnish.

3.If it's tarnished, Hotel Dip will remove the tarnish in under 10 seconds. Your only effort is drying it by hand.

4.With modern powder it DOES go in the dishwasher! (but it's best cleaned by hand).

Cleaning and Storage Tips

With modern products and modern techniques silver has actually never been so easy to care for. However, it still carries the stigma of being more effort than it's worth. This is mostly the hangover of a generation ago, where silver did require a degree of "elbow grease" to bring up a nice shine and keep the tarnish off.

Of all types of silverware, cutlery is the easiest to keep bright and untarnished, and with a minimum of effort.

The first and most important point is how your silver or silver plated cutlery is stored. The ideal method is in a tarnish proof cutlery roll such as those by Hagerty (link to product?), Placed inside a Tupperware box, ziplock bag, or other airtight container. Tarnish is simply a chemical reaction to the oxygen in the air (oxidation). A tarnish proof bag will massively reduce the rate of oxidation, and in an airtight container further results oxidation by limiting the quantity of oxygen the cutlery is exposed to.

For those of us who use our cutlery every day the minute quantity of oxidation built up each week is wiped away by being handled and washed before it has a chance to build up to any visible degree. I have eaten my cornflakes with a silver spoon every morning for five years, and I have not polished it once in that time. What about after use? Silver is, of course, no different to stainless steel in the respect that it needs to be cleaned after use! Traditionally this was done by hand, and many people still prefer to wash their cutlery in this way now, with nothing more than warm soapy water.

However, there really is not anything wrong with putting silver cutlery in the dishwasher! Years ago when detergents were harsher this was not ideal, and took away a tiny portion of silver each time. However, now dishwasher chemicals are much softer and less abrasive, and no more poisoning to silver than polish. The trick is to take it out before the drying cycle, and to dry by hand. This is not because drying the silver in the dishwasher is damaging in any way, but instead because the evaporating water oxidises the silver slightly, and it comes out with a yellow tinge which then necessitates one to polish it! I should point out at this stage that old silver knives are best washed by hand, as they are often filled with pitch which will expand over time, and cause the blades to become unset. Newer knives are soldered to the steel blades and therefore watertight.

What if my Silver is Already Tarnished?

In this instance too, there is not really much of a problem. Oxidised or black cutlery is easily cleaned with silver dip, or "Hotel Dip" which lifts the tarnish in a few seconds. Then rinse with warm water and dry by hand. Cleaning a full 84pc canteen using this method takes less than 10 minutes.