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How to Polish Silver

While it might feel like the last thing you want to do, stop procrastinating: With the right tools, cleaning and polishing your silver can be a cinch. (Plus, if you clean and store your silver properly, you’ll only have to do it a few times each year.) Just follow these six simple steps:

Photo: Jim Franco

1. Start with a high-quality silver polish or cream. But before you get started, read the instructions carefully. If they say something different from our directions, defer to them.

2. Set up a silver station: Gather all the silver that needs polishing, and put it near the sink. Then, spread out paper or soft cotton towels on the counter (you’ll put the silver here after you apply the polish). Put on gloves to prevent polish from getting on your hands.

3. Rinse each piece off in hot water to get rid of the dust. While the silver is still warm, dip a soft rag or moist foam sponge into your silver cream or polish and quickly spread it all over the piece. Try to cover the entire piece.

4. Gently rub each piece until the tarnish goes away; it should take around 30 seconds for smaller pieces and up to two minutes for bigger ones. When working with larger items like bowls and pitchers, polish the inside first and then polish the outside. For any tiny crevices that are hard to reach, use a cotton swab.

5. Your choice: You can either rinse each piece as soon as you’re done polishing or wait until you’re all done polishing the other pieces. To rinse, run a very clean soft cotton rag or sponge under warm or cool water, and use it to rub away all of the polish.

6. After rinsing, dry thoroughly with a clean towel so water marks don’t develop. Then, let the silver air-dry for a few hours to ensure it’s completely dry before you put it away.

-- Paula Kashtan