Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, May 2019, Consulting the Silver Expert

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeff Herman

Basic Silver-Care Advice, Part 2 of 2

11. To remove tarnish in tight spaces, use a Q-tip or wrap a wooden popsicle stick or skewer with a cotton make-up pad or cotton ball;

12. Cleaning silver in a dishwasher is not advised, as the heat and harsh detergents will eventually whiten the silver, causing it to require professional refinishing. In addition, dishwashers can cause blades to explode out of hollow-handled knives;

13. Silver flatware used on a daily basis will require little or no polishing. Handwash with a non-lemon-scented phosphate-free detergent and dry them immediately to avoid spotting;

14. When storing flatware, rotate the pieces so they will all be used and thus wear uniformly;

15. Salt is extremely corrosive to silver: Always empty vessels and wash them when not used on a regular basis;

16. When cleaning or inserting a candle into a candelabrum, support the arms from underneath to avoid distortion or possible breakage;

17. Do not cut food on a solid silver or silver-plated tray. Cutting lines (and possibly linear dents) will decrease the object’s value. Additionally, on a plated piece, it is easy to cut through the plating, exposing the base metal. Instead, cut the meat on a cutting board and place it on the tray;

18. If objects contain wood, ivory, mother of pearl, etc., apply two coats of Renaissance wax on those surfaces. Let each coat set for 15 minutes, then buff with a paper towel. This archival-quality microcrystalline wax will seal these components and help prevent them from rotting and drying out;

19. Hold a piece of white paper up to a piece being polished, as the reflection will reveal if there is additional tarnish that needs to be removed. Just be sure not to mistake fire stain for tarnish. Fire stain is a dark, purplish, blotchy area on solid silver that can be found on many pre-colonial through early twentieth century pieces crafted by small silversmith shops. It is not tarnish, so attempting to remove it will damage the piece. The stain is usually obscured with a very thin layer of fine silver and may not show up until after many years of polishing.

20. Silver is best stored in treated flannel bags that draw away sulfur. Alternatively, wrap silver in acid-free tissue or paper then place in a Ziploc or other polyethylene bag containing an anti-tarnish strip. Keep the silver in a dry, well-ventilated, safe area and use silica gel to absorb dampness that contributes to the acceleration of tarnish. Cutlery should be wrapped individually and placed side by side, rather than piled together;

21. IMPORTANT! When removing tarnish, always invest more time using a gentle silver polish rather than seeking to achieve a faster result with a more abrasive silver polish. I am able to remove 99% of the tarnish from the silver I work on using the gentle Blitz Silver Shine Polish.

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either contact him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or via email jeff @

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.