Place a big cloth over a table – any old sheet will do and collect all the silver around the house. I recommend the use of Goddard’s Long Term Silver Polish and Silver Foam. An impregnated silver cloth is useful, especially if you simply want to buff the silver quickly. I also own a large stretch of chamois leather for polishing and keep a collection of different sizes of jewellers’ brushes-readily available from any high street jewellers – to remove the dry polish that sets in difficult-to access areas, for example between the tines of forks or around ornate decorations or engravings.
On picking up each piece take note of where the hallmarks are placed. It is important not to rub them to ensure the make and age of the silver remains clear over time.
Tip the silver polish out of the bottle into a small dish and then dip your bare middle finger into the dish. You need use only a little polish. Pick up the item to be cleaned and rub your finger around it. Once you have cleaned it all over, take a silver cloth or a clean, dry chamois leather and polish.
A speedy method to clean silver cutlery requires an aluminium saucepan lid and a handful of plain washing soda. Place both in a plastic washing up bowl and pour boiling water over it. Lower the cutlery into this mixture to remove any tarnish marks. Do not employ this method to clean silver items with any enamel.
Silver foam is a gentle detergent, but should only be used to clean cutlery. Avoid using it on candlesticks and other freestanding pieces because they often prove difficult to dry out completely, and you risk leaving a watermark on the table or sideboard. Turn on a tap, then take the sponge provided in the tube and dip it under the running water. The paste forms a cleaning foam when rubbed on the sponge. Once you have finished cleaning the piece of silver, run it under the water to rinse clean.
Take extra care when using a liquid dip on your best silver, as it is powerful and can burn into the metal. If you have silver that is not kept on display or is rarely used, I recommend sealing each clean piece in a plastic bag to keep the air out and reduce tarnishing.
Written by Paul Brown, former Buckingham Palace Butler and owner of White Glove Consultancy