How to clean silver plate

Written by corey m. mackenzie
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Silver-plated items can look as beautiful as solid silver, as long as the silver plating remains. The method and products used for cleaning silver plate are similar to those used for cleaning solid silver; one main difference, however, is the method. Because items with plating have only a thin piece of silver overlaying another metal, gentler cleaning is necessary or you may remove the plating. As long as you keep this in mind, however, it is easy to clean silver-plated items around the home.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Clean soft sponge
  • Hot water
  • Mild soap
  • Soft cotton cloths
  • Silver polishing cream
  • Small (baby-sized) soft-bristled toothbrush or cotton swab

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  1. 1

    Wet a sponge in hot water and add a small amount of mild soap (mild dish soap is fine) to it. Wipe this over the silver-plated item. If items are small, such as pieces of flatware, put them in a bowl (ceramic or glass, to prevent tarnishing the piece even more) of hot water for five to 10 minutes.

  2. 2

    Rinse the silver under warm water. Wipe the item dry with a soft towel.

  3. 3

    Coat the entire piece with silver polishing cream. Apply cream with a dry soft cloth.

  4. 4

    Gently rub the polish into the silver-plated item. Use a very soft cloth and do not rub too hard. Use a cotton swab or a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to rub the polish into crevices.

  5. 5

    Buff the piece with a clean soft cloth. Your silver-plated items should be gleaming brilliantly.

Tips and warnings

  • If polishing silver-plated eating utensils, pitchers or platters, use silver polish deemed appropriate for these kinds of items, and always rinse them before use.
  • Silver plating can be removed from plated items if you clean with abrasives or clean it too roughly--even through vigorous rubbing.
  • Acidic cleaners (such as vinegar) will harm silver.
  • Dishwasher detergent is too harsh for silver--do not place these items in a dishwasher.

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