60-Second Silver: Silver cleaning tips

If you can manually clean the inside of a silver coffeepot or teapot, use a cellulose sponge (if the pot opening is big enough) or make a swab by wrapping a sponge on the end of a wooden dowel. Moisten the sponge and apply a liberal amount of Wright’s Silver Cream, then wipe away the stain and rinse the silver pot thoroughly with warm water. Wright’s is an excellent cleaner for this task because it’s much less abrasive than commercial cleaners that are not meant specifically for silver.

Don’t use powdered abrasive cleaners, as they will impart fine scratches that will attract more dirt. Don’t use steel wool (too abrasive and rust may result on the bottom), Scotch-Brite or scouring pads (too abrasive), or dips (too toxic). A cotton swab with a small amount of Wright’s will remove stains within the spout opening. Rinse well with warm water.

If you can’t adequately clean the interior manually, fill the silver pot with warm water and drop in a five-minute denture cleaning tablet (about five cents each) per two cups of water. Let stand for 10 minutes, empty, then rinse with warm water. You may find that the effervescing action of the tablets may just break the contact between the stain and the silver and not lift the residue. If this occurs, use a wet brush to remove the loosened residue and rinse with warm water. ?

Jeffrey Herman encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can’t be answered on his Web site hermansilver.com to contact him. He may be reached at 800-339-0417or jeff@hermansilver.com or at PO Box 786, West Warwick, RI 02893.

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. Herman has worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator and at Pilz Ltd., where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman has a BFA degree in silversmithing and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.

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