Martin Swinton

Article Summary:

Tips to help you enjoy your silver.

Silver Care

Silver is beautiful but it can tarnish quickly. This sometimes puts people off collecting it. Don’t let it deter you. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your silver.

Use it.
Regular use is best. Silver was made to be used.

Wash in hot mild soapy water.
To avoid spotting, wash quickly in hot mild soapy water, rinse in hot clean water and dry quickly.

Avoid contact with scotch tape, cardboard and newspaper. Acids in the tape, cardboard and newspaper can be harmful to silver.

Use acid-free paper.
Wrap silver in acid free paper when storing.

Avoid contact with eggs, onions and peas.
The sulfur in these foods combines with silver to form silver sulphide, which discolors the surface.

Avoid contact with wool and felt.
These fabrics contain harmful sulfur.

Avoid contact with rubber.
Don’t fasten cutlery with rubber bands or store rubber bands in silver cups etc because rubber contains ingredients that can tarnish silver. This includes latex gloves. Don’t wear them when cleaning your silver.

Avoid dishwashers.
The combination of harsh detergents and very high temperatures is far too much for sterling to bear.

Avoid salt.
Remove salt from silver saltshakers and salt sellers after each use. Salt is a corrosive element. Storing these items with salt in them will damage them along with the rest of the silver in the cupboard because salt will permeate the air.

Clean silver candlesticks carefully.
Avoid using a knife or other sharp object to remove the nub of a candle. Instead, pour in a little hot water. Let it sit and then the remainder of the candle will slip out.

Don’t store silver in freshly painted drawers.
Some paints can accelerate tarnishing. You should wait 4 months.

Martin Swinton is an antique expert and the owner of Take-A-Boo Emporium, an antique shop located at 1927 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario. Martin teaches courses on antiques and he writes a regular column “Let’s Talk Antiques” for the Town Crier newspaper and “Antiques 101” for the Home Advisor. His television appearances include Canadian Living Television, Breakfast Television, Daytime and Toronto Living. For more information, visit

Read all advice by Martin Swinton; Find more Antiques experts

More advice on Antiques
» Antiques and Reproductions: Can You Tell the Difference?
» Silver Care
» all Antiques articles