Cleaning, Storing and Displaying Antique Sterling Silver

Whether your store your antique sterling silver or put it on display, you must first clean and give it a fine polish. For this you need a flannel cloth, a 100% cotton cloth, a special sterling silver cleaning cloth or a soft bristle brush, such as a horsehair brush or a baby’s toothbrush. Silver is a very soft metal and it can thus be easily scratched or pitted so it needs to be lightly rubbed or polished. Make sure that whatever cleaning implement you use is completely cleaned as left over dirt from previous cleanings can also cause pitting or abrasions on your antique sterling silver.

You can merely use a small amount of laundry detergent mixed with one half cup of warm water as your cleaning agent for doing a light cleaning for things like dust, dirt, or fingerprints. Then get a soft polishing cloth and give your antique sterling silver piece a nice polish. After you have completely air dried your cleaning implement, store it in a zip lock bag.

If there is a whole lot of tarnish you’ll need to use a silver paste cleaner or a silver polish spray. You should never clean or polish with circular motion as this can cause scratching, instead your rubbing motions should be lengthwise. You can remove that creviced tarnish on antique sterling silver use a very soft brush but some people actually leave the tarnish in the crevices of a piece to give it “character”.

Remember to wear gloves when touching your antique sterling silver. There are salts, fats, and oils within your skin that can tarnish. In fact, fingerprints can become veritably etched into sterling silver. After you clean your antique sterling silver with a cleaner, use a clean cloth to take away any residue of the cleaner. It is now ready for storing or displaying.

If you are placing your just cleaned antique sterling silver into storage, wrap them individually with buffered and acid-free tissue paper, well-washed cotton, linen or silver cloths. Do not use felt, newspaper, wool or chamois leather as a wrapper medium. These materials can cause extensive tarnishing to your antique sterling silver

If you are going to display your precious antique sterling silver collection, consider a cabinet of wood with a glass-enclosed display space for putting these pieces on display. Unvarnished shelves in a wooden case omit damaging gaseous vapors so make sure that the wooden shelves are well varnished. Glass shelves are good but make very sure that they are strong enough to support the total weight of your antique sterling silver.

To fight tarnishing place camphor blocks inside the cabinet, but you cannot let them actually touch the antique sterling silver pieces. There are also specially made papers and cloths that prevent or minimize tarnish buildup utilizing silver salts or activated carbon.

Never use cotton, felt, wool or velvet as the clothes upon which your antique sterling silver pieces rest. The sulfides within these materials will eat away at the metal. While sunlight does not cause tarnishing, it can accelerate the chemical processes that bring on that film so don’t have your display case directly in the path of sunlight.

Not only do you want to use soft cloths like flannel or all-cotton or very soft brushes like horsehair brushes when you do you’re cleaning of your sterling silver, especially your displayed sterling silver, but wearing white gloves is also a good idea. Why wear these gloves? There are salts, fats, and oils within your skin that can tarnish the sterling silver pieces, that’s why. In fact, fingerprints can become veritably etched into sterling silver. Prevent this with the wearing of gloves when handling.


Post time: 02-24-2017