Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm Finally Done Polishing! Whew!

I began the dreaded household task of polishing my silver tea services and trays from the dining room last week...Last Week! I just finished the job Monday. What a job that is; I have to break it down into sections because my hands take a beating and my arms get tired. I love the look of old silver when it's polished to a shine, and I treasure my old tea sets because they were gifts from my husband for our 25th wedding anniversary, but like most things that are considered "treasures", (our children; our pets; our health; our homes) silver is high maintenance.

This project of polishing the silver makes me have an acute understanding of why being a domestic servant in old English manors was a tough job. Think of all the sets of teapots, trays and tableware that would need attention weekly. No wonder that in those old tin-type photos of servants standing on the lawn, they have such sour looks on their faces...they've been polishing silver! I try to have mine done for Easter (which didn't happen on schedule this year) and Thanksgiving/Christmas but it is certainly not a weekly event in this house. If there is a special occasion, I will break over and do an extra cleaning; we're talking Grandparents coming for college graduation or Ladies' Spring Tea at our church. If I have cleaned my silver for you, you know that you are on my "favorite people list".

When I first started cleaning the tea sets I must admit that I took the easier route and used the liquid-type fast cleaner, but I've since learned from experts that it can be harmful to antique silver, and can in fact, remove some of the silver over time. This is also covered in the vintage cleaning book that I reviewed in my April 29th post (The Best Cleaning Book I've Ever Read).

In case anyone here aspires to being owned by antique silver...I mean, own antique silver, or already has some and is tired of looking at tarnish, but fearful of ruining it by doing the wrong thing (I was here, myself, at one point) this is how I polish mine:

First, I wash the pieces in warm, soapy water (just a couple of drops of gentle dish washing liquid will do it: not the kind for the dishwasher, but the kind you use in the sink!). Make sure you have on latex gloves and old clothes. Just rinse the insides of your teapots and coffee pots with clean, hot water and dry completely w/ a paper towel.

Next, open a jar of silver polish, such as Wright's. Use soft sponge or soft cloth to apply, so you don't scratch the surface. Work in short strokes going one direction. When no signs of tarnish remain, wash again in warm, soapy water to get off all traces of the polish and tarnish. Rinse and dry completely with soft dry cloth. After silver is completely dry, I roll up a plain white dry paper towel and insert into each coffee and tea pot w/ lid, to wick away any moisture.

Note: If your silver has intricate patters on the handles or feet, you might need to apply the polish w/ an extra soft toothbrush to get into the little grooves. If you have new silver, consult whatever papers came with it for proper cleaning instructions.

Tip: The more often that silver is used and washed off, the less often you have to polish it, because it won't tarnish as quickly. So don't leave your silver to sit and collect dust; use it! You deserve to have your morning coffee or tea out of a pretty pot!

Lawtonians: Don't forget to show your support for our troops and veterans by attending the Armed Forces Day Celebration on Saturday, May 16th! It's going to be a day of fun and excitement! Parade at 10:00 a.m.


  1. Yes, we should all use our silver! And like you said, it doesn't tarnish as much when we do use it, so why let it go to waste on the shelf or in the curio?

  2. I love the look, don't like the work! I inherited my mom's silver punch bowl and cups as my other sisters didn't want to clean it.
    It took a week! I really should use it!

  3. My mom stores hers in plastic after she's done cleaning it, but I enjoy looking at it sitting in my dining room reflecting the light.