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Care of silver household items

Care of silver household items can be easy with an expert tip 

Dusting - First, use a soft-bristled brush or clean cotton cloth to dust the piece. While this may seem unnecessary, it's important since dust can easily turn into an abrasive and scratch the finish if not removed before applying cleaning solutions.

Removing Candle Wax - Candle wax can be removed from a silver holder by simply running hot water over the area containing the wax. The softened wax should be easy to pry out with a finger. Never risk scratching the piece by using a knife or other sharp object.

Washing and Drying - Once all dust and wax are removed, wash the item by hand with warm water and a gentle dish washing soap to remove any food and gunk, but don't soak the silver in water for any length of time. Rinse the piece well with clean water, distilled is best, and dry immediately with a soft, lint-free cloth. A hair-dryer set on warm helps to dry hard-to-reach places.

Prepare for Polishing - Wearing plastic gloves rather than rubber (rubber can react adversely with the silver), lay the item on a soft towel work surface. Use a soft cotton cloth or sponge and a good non-abrasive commercial silver cleaner or polish. Some people find foams and liquids easier to manage than pastes, but it's really a matter of personal preference.

Applying the Polish - Apply the polish in a gentle circular motion. For intricate areas, use a cotton-tipped swab to apply the cleaner. Make sure all polish is removed when you're finished, using additional cotton swabs if needed. Once the piece looks clean and shiny, stop polishing even if you're still seeing dark residue on your cloth. Taking heed of this advice will help you preserve the plating on silverplated pieces.

Wash Again - Wash the piece again as noted above and dry with a lint-free cloth. Items not used for food consumption can be waxed with a thin coat of microcrystalline wax to further protect against tarnishing, if desired.

Storing your silver

To enable easy care of silver make sure that after your pieces are clean and completely dry, wrap each of them individually with acid-free buffered tissue, or washed cotton, linen, or polyester to store. Wrapping pieces in specially made bags or silver cloths designed to deter tarnish make good storage choices as well.

Do not use wool, felt, chamois leather or newspaper, which can cause excessive tarnishing that will be difficult to clean, or even worse, remove plating. Once the plating is damaged on a piece of silver plate, it is very costly to repair and replating a piece of antique silver will considerably diminish the value unless it's an extremely rare piece.

Safely Displaying Silver and Silver Plate in Your Home

If you'd like to display your silver rather than storing it, a glass-enclosed cabinet makes a good choice. Just be sure to avoid unvarnished wood shelves that can omit harmful vapors. And if you use glass shelves, make sure they're sturdy enough to hold heavy silver items.

Camphor blocks can be added to the cabinet to help prevent tarnish, but don't let them actually touch the silver. Special anti-tarnish papers and cloths containing activated carbon or silver salts can be placed in display cases as well. You can purchase these items from jewelers or department and specialty stores where new silver pieces are sold, along with directions on how to use them safely.

You'll want to avoid displaying or storing silver near cotton felt, wool or velvet as well. These fabrics contain sulfides that attack the metal. Direct sunlight doesn't actually cause tarnish, but it can accelerate the progression of the unattractive film, so place your silver display case away from sunny windows for best results.

Handling Silver Between Cleanings

When handling silver between cleanings, you'll want to wear white cotton gloves whenever possible. If you don't have gloves handy, use a clean, soft cotton cloth to cradle the item as you move it around.

This is necessary to avoid leaving behind salts, oils and acids found in your skin which can cause corrosion if they aren't immediately removed from silver and silver plate. 

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