Cleaning Silver, The Perfect Chore

Projects & Tips / March 22nd, 2011
Silver cup and pitcher in Megan Fulweiler's home
Making silver pieces gleam is the one spring cleaning chore author Megan Fulweiler welcomes.

Even though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet in New York (a layer of soggy snow is coming down as we write), it’s spring—the season for cleaning. And, if you’ve taken on a renovation project recently, then the lighter housekeeping duties one normally undertakes this time of year seem like a piece of cake by comparison. The one exception is cleaning silver, the only chore many of us truly dread. But author Megan Fulweiler has a totally different take on this impossible job. She actually enjoys it! She told us so in a post she sent us yesterday. How refreshing it was to see this vexing task from her delightful vantage point. Here’s what she had to say:

It must be a gene. Whereas I often (full disclosure) postpone vacuuming and cringe at laundry, I love the instant gratification of polishing silver. Dusting has no spirit-lifting dazzle. And certainly washing the floor doesn’t even come close. But give a silver spoon a minute and it shines!

Modern or traditional décor—it doesn’t matter. Long-wearing silver (my 19th century tray—originally used for calling cards—still looks fantastic) complements any style, any occasion. My mother’s favorite pieces were workhorses. Bowls used for holiday nuts were piled with summer fruit. The same trays passed in front of the fire showed up on the porch. Silver pitchers held winter greens and then garden flowers (a glass hidden inside protected the metal). And always in the bath, toothbrushes stood at attention in a silver julep cup.

Well-known designers like Mary Emmerling have been singing silver’s praises for years. Emmerling loads up silver bowls with bracelets or family photographs (a thousand times easier than organizing albums). Martha Stewart collects tag-sale silver-plated saucers to slide beneath potted plants. Less costly than real silver, silver-plate (metal coated with a layer of silver) has a pleasing shimmer, too. Sugar bowls, creamers, trophies—think of the roles they can play!

Never mind the dents. Each one tells a story. Or, if it’s come down through a family line, evokes a memory, which is a whole other reason to treasure silver. My mother’s advice was to polish gently and often, which I do. My more toilsome jobs, well, they often have to wait another day.—Megan Fulweiler

Thanks for your bright thoughts Megan. We also welcome comments on silver cleaning secrets from readers, too—any ideas would be much appreciated!

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2 Replies to “Cleaning Silver, The Perfect Chore”

  1. Jean,
    Following my mother’s formula, I’ve been polishing our silver the same way for years. I use Wright’s Silver Cream, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft terry cloth towel. No muscle is needed! It’s important to be gentle especially with silver-plate so as not to wear the surface. The results–unlike my ironing–are always spectacular.

    1. Thanks Megan! I’ll try this on my husband’s squash trophies. It’s nice to know there’s no muscle needed with this product. Hope to hear from you again soon. Happy spring!

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