I’ve gotten my hands on some of my mom-mom’s silverware. Tarnished silverware. Incredibly, disgustingly tarnished silverware. This is the story of the tarnished silverware, and how I saved it from another 20 plus years plopped in a box, stored in a basement.
See… in our “silverware drawer” you’ll find mismatched pieces from 3 sets of flatware from Ikea, Walmart and Target. We never registered for or purchased real silverware because I:
- wasn’t spending money on it
- didn’t want to maintain it.
- couldn’t find a pattern we liked enough to justify either of the above options.
- have nowhere to store it away, along with the good china which we also don’t have.
How did I stumble upon this amazing find?
After my mom-mom passed away when I was 15, my mom hoarded all the good stuff. This stuff would include the super dusty and cobweb filled antiques from her basement, handmade quilts and linens, tchotchkes, depression glass, heirloom-type items (like this tarnished silverware), and random goodies she knew the both of us would want some day simply because they’re amazing. Apparently mom-mom either didn’t know or didn’t care how to store silver, because it was delicately packaged in my mom-mom’s basement, inside an open Hennessy box, covered with dust. When I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to hit some thrift shops for some old silverware for the move, she dug the box from the belly of the beast basement. Which it’s been sitting in, since it was in my mom-mom’s basement, for who knows how long.
After doing some research, I found the silverware is silver-plate, the pattern is “Exquisite” by William Rogers & Son, and was made in the 1940’s. I’m assuming from my grandparents wedding. How amazing?! I just love them even more. I scoured Pinterest for a way to clean it without using Tarn-X or something similar. I’ve heard that can cause major respiratory problems and wasn’t even that fabulous to your silver to begin with. Since I’m pregnant, yet on a mission for sparkly silverware, I knew the baking soda, aluminum pan or foil, boiling water method was the way to go.
I tried a few methods on Pinterest with the same ingredients, but this one from Remarkable Wrinklies is what worked the best for me.
- aluminum foil (I used an aluminum pan and experimented with foil just because all my baking dishes are packed away)
- tarnished silverware that’s horrible looking
- baking soda
- boiling water
- soft cloths for drying/buffing
- silver polish
I’m not a chemist or anything, but the chemical reaction to bid adieu to the tarnish requires the silverware and the aluminum to be touching. It also smells horrendous. Open those windows.
The steps are simple…
- Boil water (enough to cover whatever you’ve got in your dish – I did a about 5 cups)
- Arrange your silverware on the aluminum. Make sure each piece is touching the foil, and not overlapping or in a big pile.
- Take the pot into the sink, add baking soda (I used about 2/3 cup) slowly to the water to dissolve. This will fizz like crazy, so watch out!
- Pour the solution over the silverware. This is the part that smells incredibly awful.
- Let it soak for a bit (I did 15 minutes because mine was nearly black). You can also flip the pieces over if you need to rotate.
- Wash with hot soapy water and dry with a soft cloth.
In this photo, the first spoon is the original way I pulled them from the box, while the last spoon is the end result after a light polishing. The spoons in the middle show the progression of the tarnish after each soak.
After the final soak, I threw in the towel and decided to polish the final bit. I had never used silver polish before, but it literally took a 1 minute buffing to get the last little bit of funk off. After googling for a good polish, I went with Weiman Tarnish Preventing Silver Polish after hearing good things about it, and it being the only polish at the store.
I’m sure with some elbow grease, I could’ve stopped soaking after the first or second time and just buffed my heart out. I did half the batch this way, and the other half this morning with 2 soaks and a tiny bit more polishing because my hands were so dry and chapped from the hot water! The pieces all look gorgeous and I can’t wait to toss out the old stuff, and use these pretties every day.