Unpacking and Cleaning
First things first: Get it clean. Your silver will be shining bright in no time, but beware of committing major silver-care sins during the cleaning and polishing process.
Skip the dishwasher—trust us. Though it might seem like a timesaver at first, most commercial detergents leave stubborn black spots on silverware, requiring a lot more time and effort in the long run.
Hand-polish your pretty little things (not just silverware but jewelry and accents too) with a new, clean cloth. Avoid using an old cloth, as hidden dirt and debris can scratch this soft metal.
Avoid rubber gloves, as the sulfur in some rubber and latex gloves causes silver to tarnish. Instead, opt for a soft cotton glove that won’t do any damage.
Using Your Silver
Once your silver is perfectly polished, it’s time to show it off. One of our tabletop buyers, Anne Lykes, weighed in with her advice on using silver during the entertaining season.
Beware of fire(places). We can’t resist a roaring fireplace during the holidays (who can?), but Anne warns that coal and gas fireplaces can cause silver accents to tarnish. As long as you keep the two far enough apart (five feet or more), you’re good to go.
Steer clear of highly acidic foods, if possible. “I know they can’t always be avoided,” says Anne, “but acidic foods like citrus and some vegetables can be tough on silver. If you use them together, just be sure to give the silverware a quick rinse after.”
Dry silver as soon as possible after washing. “There’s nothing worse than washing your silverware to later find water spots and have to redo it. Save yourself the headache and dry it off as soon as you wash it.”
Putting It Away
When it comes to packing it in for next year, a few quick fixes to your routine can save you a ton of hassle the next time you’re ready to use the silver. We tapped our stylists to find out how they store silver.
Keep the humidity low. Exposure to too much heat or humidity can lead to—you guessed it—tarnish. Our stylists recommend storing silver in a cool, dry place (ideally an airtight environment, but we know that’s asking a lot).
Don’t let items touch. As mentioned above, silver is soft, so you want to avoid unnecessary contact that leads to ugly scratches and scuffs. Use flannel or cotton as gentle buffers between pieces.
Use Turtle Wax to preserve the look of items on display (in other words, everything in your china cabinet). It will keep your pieces looking pretty between polishes.
When it’s properly maintained, silver improves with age and develops a lush patina. Treat your silver well, care for it properly, and it will reward you with a lifelong lustrous look.