Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Cleaning: Copper, Silver

It is that time again ...Spring Cleaning. My copper and silver needed baths and a buff. Wanting to be eco-friendly, I decided to research a few home remedies to make that precious metal shine. According to Freedom Moon Works:

Eco-friendly alternatives to commercial cleaning products:

*are less polluting to manufacture;
*are less likely, in some cases, to cause injury if accidentally ingested;
*don't cause indoor air pollution in your home;
*are generally less expensive than commercial products;
*can reduce waste from packaging;
*are simple and effective and have been used for generations;
*can help you save space in your cupboards and closets;
*are less likely to harm the environment during and after use.
Ok, I'll buy that. So I decided to take the plunge and do it myself.
Home Repair says:

of course some methods work better than others, but all involve some sort of caustic solution. Be careful not to breath in any of the cleaning solutions and treat them with respect. Also, most solutions must be applied and left for several hours, so make sure they are out of reach of curious children.
Start by making a paste out of flour, salt and vinegar. I used a guesstimated quantity, about 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/2 cup vinegar. Just make sure it is pasty and gritty, then apply it to the copper. The acid in the vinegar will begin to dissolve the tarnish immediately.

I highly recommend you use gloves and clean outdoors, if possible. It did create a bit of a gooey mess. And if the tarnish is heavy, you may need to apply more paste and heavier elbow grease.

(the homemade copper cleaner is being applied in the above picture)

It really was not too much of an ordeal. The entire process took less than 30 minutes from start through clean-up. And then, VOILA!

Here is the copper pot all shiny and new looking, proudly showing greenery. Now, on to cleaning the silver:

Freedom Moon Works gave this quick fix for polishing silver, and BY GOLLY, it worked!
#1 Boil silver 3 minutes in a quart of water containing: 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and a piece of aluminum foil. #2 Rub silver with a baking soda/water paste and a soft cloth; rinse and polish dry. #3 Rub with toothpaste. Use a soft toothbrush to clean raised surfaces. Be careful not to scratch surfaces. Be gentle.
On the right is a picture of the neglected, tarnished silverware prior to the remedy.

And below is a picture of serving pieces all cleaned up. This job took about two hours since I had a lot of silver to polish, but it still took less time by this method than using a commercial cleaner.

Hmm. The pictures do not give justice to the work involved, but it really DID give the silver a polish, although the pictures lie.

I would love to chat with my estranged niece Ashley and talk about this silver cleaning project since she once brought up this topic as a business idea. In the meantime, I send her good thoughts and love.

Now I need to polish all of my mom's silver!


  1. Ooh, your copper pot is so pretty. If it were mine, I think I would just pile it full of yarn and stick it in my living room. Then, I could see it everyday and smile at it.

  2. Thanks, Marie! Our dogs would LOVE it if it were filled with yarn. But it would take forever to wind all the yarn back up once they had a go at it!


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