prevent silver tarnish

Prevent Silver Tarnish of Special Serving Dishes, Platters and Utensils

Heirloom silver serving trays, dishes, platters, teapots, candlesticks and utensils add a touch of tradition and elegance to holiday festivities. Unfortunately, keeping these pieces timeless requires special care to prevent silver tarnish from taking hold.

Tarnish, also known as silver sulfide, is that black film that accumulates over time on silver, giving it an appearance of grimy rather than gleaming. It’s the result of a chemical reaction that can be caused simply by exposure of silver surfaces to sulfides present in air, water or materials like felt. Silver is especially vulnerable in high-humidity or when an accumulation of oils or chemicals has built up, usually having rubbed off from skin contact.

If silver tarnish forms, a quick soap-and-water scrub isn’t going to cut it. It must be removed through tedious polishing. (The editors of Southern Living said that to refer to the task as time-consuming is “an understatement,” and recommend hosts set themselves to the chore three days in advance of a festive gathering.) Shortcuts can leave your cherished pieces worse for the wear. Some silver tarnish removers promise expedited polishing, but can pose a risk of damaging the surface quality of each piece. 

Better to Prevent Silver Tarnish Than Struggle to Remove it Later

A recent study published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage analyzed the impact of cleaning tarnished silver in a variety of methods. They found:

  • Mechanically cleaning silver restored it to original appearance, but resulted in significant loss of mass and rapid return of tarnish.
  • Chemically cleaning silver was fast, but, researchers said the surface of these items “appeared completely attacked.”
  • Electrochemical cleaning yielded poor results for anything sterling silver.

It’s much easier to prevent silver tarnish with Zerust products and minimize the need for polishing and tarnish removal.

Prevent Silver Tarnish With Proper Storage, Trusted Anti-Tarnish Products

Precious metals experts recommend that silver be stored in air-restricted spaces when it isn’t in use. Keep in mind: They may look beautiful in a glass display case in the kitchen or dining room, but that cabinet probably isn’t air-tight.

Zerust products offer numerous effective options that, along with other important care steps, can help prevent silver tarnish from taking over your trays and other dining wear.

First, silver needs to be washed immediately after use in water that is both hot and soapy. (Dishwashers are out of the question for cleaning silver, especially antiques with glued items like pot legs or knife blades that can fall apart; stick to hand-washing.)

Then rinse each piece in hot water and dry thoroughly and right away with either a cotton cloth or soft flannel. Some drying cloths made especially for silver have cleaning agents actually built in that aren’t a bad idea.

Finally, proper storage of your silver should not involve cardboard boxes, Ziplock bags or newspaper rapping – all of which are going to leave your silver exposed to moisture and air, prime tarnish culprits.

Zerust has several options for silver rust prevention, depending on the size of your pieces.

  • Anti-Tarnish Silver Storage Bags. We offer two sizes – 6″x 6″ or 8″x 10″. These are great for keeping silver utensils free of tarnish for at least five years. The formula is residue-free, non-toxic and is FDA-approved as food safe.
  • Anti-Tarnish Drawer Liner. This can be used to line the enclosed space in which your silver is stored, with vapor inhibitors that coat and protect your pieces. The liner comes in a large 12″x 72″ roll that can be easily custom cut to fit the space.
  • Anti-Tarnish Vapor Capsules. These capsules offer one year of tarnish protection not just for holiday silver serving pieces, but also for any that may be gold, brass, pewter, copper, tin or some other metal with non-ferrous compounds.

You value your silver. We value our customers. Trust Zerust to keep your silver pieces sparkling.

Contact Zerust for information on anti-tarnish silver storage bags, capsules and vapors emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

A comparative study of cleaning methods for tarnished silver, January – February 2016, Journal of Cultural Heritage

More Blog Entries:

Anti-Tarnish Protection for Your Silver Jewelry and Serving Pieces, Jan. 28, 2018, Zerust Prevent Silver Tarnish Blog