Martin Swinton

Article Summary:

How to clean and store your silver.

Silver Cleaning and Storage

Cleaning your silver
Here are a couple of methods to clean your silver;

  • Commercial cleaners.
    A wide assortment of commercial cleaners is available at grocery and hardware stores. The less abrasive the cleaner, the better.

  • Aluminum foil method
    This fast working homemade remedy works like a charm. Add to pot of boiling water a piece of aluminum foil, salt or a water softener such as Calgon. The chemical reaction among these elements quickly lifts tarnish. Works well for cutlery, trays etc.

  • Toothpaste
    An old standby that works in a pinch. Apply with a soft toothbrush. Remove with soft clean cloth.

Storing your silver
A humid environment encourages tarnishing. Caustic elements such as sulfur and salt cause tarnishing and pitting. Using one and/or more of these techniques will help to create a barrier between your precious silver and that pesky tarnish.

  • Anti-tarnish strips
    Can be added to drawers where silver is stored. These strips, containing activated charcoal absorb tarnish producing gases.

  • Kenzied cloth
    Line your drawers with this 100 per cent cotton per cent cotton flannel cloth. When used in combination with anti-tarnish strips, they provide a good barrier.

  • Polyethylene bags
    Store silver pieces in polyethylene bags that create a barrier from tarnish producing gases.

  • Desiccated silica gel & activated charcoal
    Add to storage area a small container of desiccated silica gel that absorbs water to keep humidity levels low and a small container of activated charcoal. This one-two combination packs a punch and absorbs harmful gases. Works well when added to polyethylene bag.

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