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How to Care for & Clean Silverware



The best way to care for silver pieces is to use them often. Frequent use actually reduces tarnish and develops a sheen, called patina, which enhances its beauty. Clean silverware, occasionally with 'gentle' dusting rather than infrequent over-zealous scrubbing! 



Remove minor marks such as light fingerprints on silver pieces with a microfibre or silver cleaning cloth, sprayed with a fine mist of water.

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A great silverware cleaning solution is simply warm, soapy water. Clean any crevices with a soft toothbrush or nailbrush and then polish using a silver cloth or dip. 

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Avoid contact with rubber bands or cling film since these will cause irreversible staining. 

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Some foodstuffs, such as egg yolk, salt, citrus juice or mustard, have a corrosive effect on silver so clean immediately after use.

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When cleaning and polishing silverware, you can protect
hallmarks from wear by dabbing clear nail varnish over the hallmarks, or cover with sticky tape to give temporary protection.

  Silver polish should be used to bring up a good and lasting shine. We would recommend Goddard’s or Silvo liquid silver polish.



Cleaning Sterling Silver Canteens/Cutlery/Flatware
Silver flatware will give you pleasure for many, many years. Remember to rotate the pieces used so the patina develops evenly across all pieces of the canteen. Most silver cutlery can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but never put in antique silver or bone handled knives, ivory or mother-of-pearl pieces.



Silver is so often combined with other precious materials such as glass and tortoiseshell.  See our advice on how to maintain their beauty.



Rinse decanters, carafes or vases immediately after use. For stubborn stains, occasionally put a false teeth cleaning tablet in the bottom, fill up with tepid water and leave for a few hours before rinsing and storing.


Silver Gilt

Although gilding is usually carried out to accentuate the detail of a piece of silver and make it more opulent, gilding also greatly reduces the need for cleaning and polishing and so reduces the risk of damage.  Care for gilded pieces with an occasional wash in warm soapy water followed by rinsing and drying.  If the piece is not intricate, and to ensure the gilt is not rubbed off, polish only occasionally and very lightly with a chamois leather to retain shine.



Ivory that is in good condition should be cleaned and wiped gently with a soft, clean microfibre cloth.  Use a clean, soft paintbrush or toothbrush to carefully brush dirt off the object.  Apply a very light vegetable or mineral oil to hydrate ivory cutlery handles from time to time.  


Keep ivory objects where the sun can get to them. The sun has a bleaching effect and it will keep the ivory from turning a dingy darkened colour.  And if your ivory does turn a yellow colour, clean it with a half of a lemon dipped in table salt.  Rub this over the ivory surface and let it dry well. Buff it with a clean, soft dry cloth to shine it. 


Never put anything made out of ivory into the dishwasher.



Because mother-of-pearl is an organic material, it requires a bit of extra care.  Its surface is soft and is easily damaged and it is particularly subject to deterioration from contact with chemicals, such as components in household cleaning products. Like bone, never immerse mother-of-pearl cutlery handles in water and never wash in a dishwasher.  Use only a mild soap and a natural bristle brush then rinse with cool water for at least five minutes. 


Cutlery with mother-of-pearl handles can be stored in a lined cutlery canteen while more decorative silver and mother-of-pearl items should be kept in velvet, silk or tarnish-proof pouches.



Tortoiseshell and horn pieces lose their lustre with age, especially if they have been left in direct sunlight.  They can be revived with a mixture of one teaspoon of Goddard’s silver cleaning foam and a few drops of olive oil.  Work the paste into the surface with a cloth and leave for 15 minutes then wipe off.  Finally, apply a little neat olive oil, leave for a few minutes and then buff to a high shine.


Bone & Horn

Never put anything made out of bone or horn into the dishwasher.  Gently and briefly wash bone with a mild liquid detergent in warm water. Rinse and dry well. 


Stag horn and bone handles are natural materials and have a certain amount of water content so it is good to keep them hydrated periodically. We recommend using a light mineral oil (available from a chemist).  Occasionally dab oil directly onto the surface of the horn or bone and massage into the grain.  For best results, let it soak into the wood overnight, then remove surface oil with a paper towel.  If desired, once oil free, buff a natural wax into the handle to seal in the moisture.



Like bone and horn, wood may require minimal care in order to retain its beauty, longevity, and practicality.  We recommend maintaining a wood’s lustre and colour by applying a light beeswax polish with a soft, lint-free cloth from time to time.  Alternatively mineral oil (available from a chemist) could be occasionally dabbed onto the surface of the wood and massaged by hand into the grain.  For best results, let it soak into the wood overnight, then remove excess with a paper towel and, once oil free, buff a natural beeswax into the handle to seal in the moisture.