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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Silver Polishing for the Hopelessly Lazy

So on Saturday I promised to let you in on 
The Lazy Lady's Silver Polishing method.
It is cheap, non-toxic, and doesn't leave a funny chemical smell on your flatware.  Promise.
Here it is, in a post from May 23, 2011.
Read it, and never dread silver polishing again.

A Lazy Lady Polishes Her Silver

You may already know that I've got a
boatload of old silverplated flatware.  

I love the stuff.

I hate to polish it.

With our daughter's wedding coming up in fewer than 5 weeks,
I want even my mismatched old silverware in its best bib and tucker for the occasion.

Leave me out in the air, and I wrinkle.
Leave silver out in the air, and it tarnishes.
It just happens, y'know?

But at least for the silver, there are remedies.

Below, The Lazy Lady's Silver Polishing treatment has begun for some pieces,
while their tarnished relatives wait patiently alongside the hot tub.
Welcome to The Lazy Lady's Silver Polishing Club.

All you need to join are some bits of silver, plated or sterling.
Line them up like meek little lambs in a disposable aluminum pan.
(You can also line a non-reactive pan with aluminum foil.  I find the pan is easier.  I'm all about easy.)
Membership in this Club is free, or pretty darned close to it,
because the only thing you need to buy is a big box of this stuff, which is cheap:

Generously sprinkle plain old baking soda over your waiting victims flatware.

And put the kettle on to boil.

Pour the boiling water over the baking-soda-covered flatware.

It will bubble up most gratifyingly, then settle down.
Walk away, put your feet up, have a cuppa, come back in a little while when it's not blistering hot.

Fish the flatware out of the aluminum pan, and rinse it in the sink.

Take an old, soft towel, and dry each piece, giving a quick light buffing to really bring out the shine.

And you are done.
Your old tarnished flatware can join its gleaming relatives,
where they will all admire one another's brilliance, like families do.
I didn't invent this method; it's been around for a long time. Even Martha Stewart has instructions for it on her web site.  It's a chemical reaction; the baking soda in water transfers the tarnish from the silver to the aluminum.

When you pour the boiling water over, you will smell tarnish -- you know that unpleasant metallic smell that settles in your nostrils?  And when the polishing is over, the pan or foil you used will be dark with tarnish, so you won't want to use that disposable pan for a batch of brownies to take to the church coffee hour.  Ick.  Save it for silver polishing!

Silver is hard to photograph.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Anyway, some pieces look dark; they are not.
One warning:  If you have valuable antique pieces, or other pieces that are purposefully antiqued, or you are particularly fond of a darkened patina on some of your silver, don't use this method.  It really polishes and cleans too well for that; you may lose those darkened areas, the ones that highlight any raised areas.  I haven't explained that very well, but you know what I mean!
But the good news is:  Lazy Lady polishing is very kind to silver, especially plated pieces and old pieces.  Commercial polishes often take off just a tiny bit of the silverplating each time they are used, and if you are vigorous with your polishing, you can find yourself getting down to brass or nickel.  (Don't ask me how I know this.)  The plating is unharmed in this process.  Just the tarnish perishes.  
And ... we're back to November 2014.
Don't you just love time travel?

Anyway, my deadline now is not my daughter's wedding,
but Thankgiving, just 10 days away.  Eeek!  :-)

Enjoy your own holiday prep!
Question: Do you begin Christmas prep before Thanksgiving?
Just wondering .... Cass

Link Parties

It's Silver Pennies Sunday at Silver Pennies Blog.
A beautiful place to visit, or join the party.
Click here.
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Lots of action here, some great featured posts, so go read, and maybe join!
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  1. Christmas Prep -- there are certain things that you do in November -- in preparation for Christmas -- the liqueurs, the pomanders, the fruitcakes or Dundee cakes -- but that doesn't involve silver and glitter and holly and ivy -- so it's not the same as putting up the tree (oh, my stars -- BEFORE Thanksgiving) or getting out decorations!

    I do like that method of silver polishing and after reading your post, I now do it in that aluminum steam table tray -- before I just used aluminum foil in a enamel pot. It IS fast . . . but the only problem is that the silver TARNISHES FASTER -- that polish does have some anti tarnish retardant in it! But hey, if I don't have time to sit and polish and wash and rub and buff -- it's a great way to get a LOT OF SILVER polished! And cheap, too!

    1. Hi Martha! I don't find that the silver tarnishes faster, but I don't have the silver "out" -- it's kept wrapped up, so maybe that helps. And after polishing the plating OFF a little coffee set my daughter got as a present many years ago, anything that doesn't take off plating works for me. :-)
      I am going to make your pomanders this year -- they are SO beautiful. Haven't done them in years!
      Love, Cass

  2. I will try this when I bring out my good silver for Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing!
    Miss Bloomers

  3. I've never done this with my silver, but I'm going to this year!
    The only thing I do for Christmas is keep and eye out,if I see a special gift idea or an ornament to give as a gift or something that I know sells quickly and I might need but cleaning and decorating won't start until the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving. As our children are all grown I buy no gifts but give them a check to use where they need it. If we're together for the holiday one gift for each person. Life has changed and so has their needs.

  4. I sure wanted to do this yesterday when I polished my old silver flatware but never thought of looking on line. Shoot! I used the old Silvo polish stuff which works fine but is kind of messy and leaves the smell on my hands after. Next time I'll know better and will Google the 'recipe'. Thanks for sharing it again. Pamela

  5. Hi Cass,
    I have used this method a few times and it really does do a good job of removing the tarnish. I do find the tarnish comes back quicker though than using the polish. But I hate polishing! So guess who gets to do the job now? Dear ole Hubby. Yup, he's a keeper!

  6. I will definitely have to try this. I have my mom's old silver plate and don't use it because I worry about taking the finish off. This Christmas it is coming out for sure.


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