Gracious Entertaining:
How to Polish Silver

Silver Polishing Victoria magazine

Silver has been prized as a precious metal for centuries. But it reached a new level of prominence during the Victorian era, when members of nobility enjoyed elaborate meals—sometimes with as many as ten courses. Each dish served required different cutlery. Today, several collectors enjoy discovering rare finds that hark back to that time.

The inherent beauty of sterling ensures that it need not be reserved for holidays—it can make any occasion special—but if you have even a passing acquaintance with silver, you are probably familiar with what some consider a drawback to this fine tableware. The treasured metal tarnishes with exposure to air and seems particularly susceptible during winter months, when heating systems warm chilly days.

Think of polishing your flatware as a labor of love and an opportunity to admire the exquisite details of favorite patterns and perhaps you won’t view this task as a chore. It’s important to note that proper care of silver often can prevent—or at least lessen—tarnishing. Watch the below video for a polishing how-to.

What you will need:

Silver polish
Polishing cloth
Silver gloves
Horsehair brush
Bowl of warm water
Plastic bags
Silver chest


Do not handle silver while wearing rubber gloves. Rubber promotes tarnish and can even corrode silver, if stored in proximity.

Acidic fruits, vinegars, salad dressings, and olives are harmful to silver if the acid they contain remains on the sterling. Be sure to clean implements thoroughly after use with such foods. 


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  1. Excellent video, but it should add, Never use anything but Haggerty’s Silver Polish products! I have used it 53 years and urge people to use it exclusively. A lot of beautiful old silver plate serving pieces comes to our Goodwill stores and I buy it and refurbish it and give it as gifts. Yes, some brides still love silver.

  2. I have never heard of Haggerty’s silver polish. I use Wright’s silver cream and the results are great. I love the Francis I tea strainer in the photograph. I think I may need to splurge and get one to add to my Francis I collection.

  3. 1. How about those dippable silver cleaning solutions? Do they work? Looks like it could damage the silver. 2. What about storing silver in that specially treated cloth? Is that as good as plastic bags? 3. Once silver flatware is polished, do you need to wash it again in dish soap before you eat off the flatware?

    • Please remember this – the dippable silver cleaning solutions will eat away the precious silver one dip at a time. My mother made me promise when she gave me the silver tea service, (that my father bought her when I was born) to never use anything but Haggerty’s foam cleaner on it. I am not sure about the plastic bags either. It is worth the effort to buy the nontarnish cloth at JoAnn’s fabrics and either wrap your silver in it or make bags to put it in. Silver is a lifelong gift and will pass from one generation to the next if you put the effort in to it now. I hope that I am not sounding too forward but I am passionate about heirlooms like silver. Hope you enjoy your silver for a long time !

  4. Love all my silver and I use it and polish it with care. I like the idea of buying it, polishing and giving it as gifts. There is so much in the thrift stores now.

  5. Wrights Silver Cream Polish is wonderful. The trick – is after polishing – rinse in mild, warm soapy water to get the high shine and dry with a soft cloth. (Joy or any dish detergent will do)

  6. Help I have inherited two gorgeous silver teapots….. the problem being
    they have a horrible taste when tea is made in them Any ideas about
    how to get rid of the silver polish taste ????

  7. We are being transferred to Haiti and I do not want to bring my silver …..meaning it will be in storage maybe up to 3 years…what is the best way to protect it? I do have a silver chest for most of the pieces, but not all. Thank you

    • Hi Patricia,

      First, make sure the silver is polished well. The best way to store it would be to make sure it is in vacuum sealed bags and then stored in a silver chest. Use acid-free tissue to wrap items, and place in Ziploc type bag that can be sealed. You can also use anti-tarnishing strips or blocks placed in the storage container to help with long term storage.

  8. I use Cape Cod cleaning cloths, they are gentle on the silver and pleasant smelling too. I don’t use the rubber gloves they supply, instead I use cotton gloves.


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