A few days ago I posted some pictures of twin silver urns that were sorely in need of a good cleaning. I referred to them as urns but a few comments said they were ice buckets. Whatever you call them, they were dirty.
I asked for some advice hoping someone would tell me an easy way to get these clean. Spending hours polishing silver really wasn’t in the schedule. A few of you pointed out that some of the finish had already been removed and copper was showing through.
I briefly considered leaving them as is but that thought was short-lived. I just couldn’t. Call me crazy but I wanted them to be shiny and clean.
One comment in particular seemed easy and I had everything on hand that I needed. My friend Andie, from Divine Theatre, said this:
Salt , hot water and aluminum foil! Really! It works!
Place a piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of your kitchen sink, and fill the basin with HOT water. Then, sprinkle in two tablespoons of table salt; and drop your silver pieces into the water. Allow your silver to soak for 2-3 minutes; then, remove and rinse. The tarnish will be gone! More salt needed for larger pieces, as you will need more water and longer wait time. You can also loosely wrap the urns in foil before you set them in the basin.
Badly tarnished silver may need to be soaked a second time.
Here’s what I did using Andie’s instructions as a starting point:
I lined my smaller sink with foil.
I dumped in 2 T. salt and filled it with very hot water. I wrapped an urn loosely in foil and laid it in the bath. I just left it there for about 10 minutes. I repeated this process but the second time I doubled the salt to 4 huge Tablespoons. Make sure and change your foil with each bath.
I would like to say that at this point I was finished…but being a perfectionist I had to go a step further. I used toothpaste on a soft rag to clean off some stubborn spots and streaks. After rinsing and buffing this is what I had:
Pretty amazing. Hardly any elbow grease was needed.
I was so impressed with the way the urns turned out that I got a little carried away and before I knew it, I had a table full of freshly polished silver! That’s how truly easy it was.
So don’t be afraid to try this on your vintage or heirloom silver. The salt didn’t harm the finish on any of the pieces I cleaned. In fact, it brought them all back to life. By removing the dirt and tarnish, I restored the vintage patina that I love so much.
My sincerest thanks to everyone who read my story at Miss Mustard Seed’s or left me a lovely comment here. I have no words to express how grateful I am for your support.
To read some other HOW TO posts click here!
Update: June 23, 2013
All the silver I polished for this post still looks great. The urns have tarnished a tiny bit but it just adds to their character. I had several comments suggesting using baking soda either with or instead of the salt. I think that would work well and I plan to try it the next time I get in a silver polishing frenzy!