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How to Clean Silver Gilt

Updated March 23, 2017

A silver object that is covered with a thin coat of gold is referred to as silver gilt or vermeil. This thin gilding layer can be porous and allows the silver underneath to react with sulphur in the air, producing a layer of silver sulphide, also known as tarnish. Silver gilt can be cleaned in the same way as other silver pieces without harming the gilt, as long as you take care not to rub the gilt layer too hard. Gold is softer than silver and it is possible to rub off the gold layer with scrubbing.

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  1. Add several drops of mild dish soap with warm water in a bowl and mix together.

  2. Dampen a soft, lint-free cloth in the soapy water. Wring out any excess water.

  3. Rub the silver gilt item very gently to remove dust, tarnish and other residue.

  4. Rinse the silver gilt item and pat with a soft cotton towel until it is thoroughly dry.

  5. Tip

    Do not immerse or soak the item in water. Store silver gilt items in tarnish-inhibiting bags to prevent future tarnishing.


    Polishing is not advised because the soft gold can be rubbed off easily.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild liquid dish soap
  • Soft, lint-free cloth
  • Soft cotton towel
  • Bowl

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