How to Clean Antique Sterling Silver
By Grant Copland
 
When it comes to cleaning your antique sterling silver items, you will want to use a flannel cloth or a 100% cotton cloth, as these will permit you to clean gently as you need to do with antique sterling silver. If you don't have a flannel cloth or 100% cotton cloth then use a special sterling silver cleaning cloth or a soft bristle brush, such as a horsehair brush or a baby's toothbrush.
 
Silver is a very soft metal and it can thus be easily scratched or pitted. Do not rub or polish with too much fervour! Also, dirt that is left on your choice of cleaning tool from previous cleanings can also cause pitting or abrasions on your antique sterling silver, so always make sure that whatever cleaning implement you use is completely cleaned.
 
If you are doing a light cleaning for things like dust, dirt, or fingerprints then you can merely use a small amount of laundry detergent mixed with one half cup of warm water as your cleaning agent. If the antique sterling silver has stones set in it keep in mind that too harsh of a detergent can damage your stones. After you have completely air dried your cleaning implement, store it in a zip lock bag. Then get a soft polishing cloth and give your antique sterling silver piece a nice polish.
 
If there is a whole lot of tarnish and you need to go deeper with the cleaning, then you'll need to use a silver paste cleaner or a silver polish spray. Silver paste cleaners can damage some gemstones, so when you're cleaning your antique sterling silver try to keep that silver paste off of your gemstones if your piece has gemstones in it.
 
To clean away great amounts of tarnish, use a soft cloth and a non-abrasive kind of paste or liquid silver polish to remove it. Using pastes or dip polishers on antique sterling silver items that do not have gemstones set into them is perfectly safe.
 
When polishing, your rubbing motions should be lengthwise. You should never clean or polish with circular motion as this can cause scratching. Some people actually leave the tarnish in the crevices of an antique sterling silver piece to give it “character”. But if you're not one of those people, then when you go to remove that creviced tarnish use a very soft brush like one of the ones that was suggested above. After you clean your antique sterling silver with a cleaner, use a clean cloth to take away any residue of the cleaner.
 
Copyright 2007,Lemur Holdings Pty Ltd, All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or published without our written permission.
 
Grant Copland is the owner of
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