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Homemade Silver Cleaner

Since you've caught a glimpse of our china from the hutch redo, I think I need to explain how I managed to clean 20+ years of tarnishing with minimal elbow grease.  It can, however, be a (long) afternoon task if you have an attention span longer than a 30 minute sitcom.  It really just depends on how much you have to clean.  I had a lot.

The gist of this china's origin is:  it's old (50+ years), French (Limoges), and fragile- mainly the silver pattern, which is... silver...  I've been told numerous times that it can't go in the dishwasher.  I think that was a sentiment passed down from Scott's Grandpa to his dad, to him, and by default- me.

Having never owned anything. This fancy before, and certainly not owning silver cleaner/polish or knowing even where to purchase, we called Scott's aunt for some help.  Using any sort of scouring pad would be too abrasive, so she suggested we try some baking soda and water.  We took it a step further and used distilled water, since we're on well water and it can be rather hard.

Mix the baking soda and water until it creates a thick paste- you may have to add a little of each to get the right consistency. I've found that just wetting the baking soda and adding small amounts from there is the best way to go.

Smudge a little paste on with your finger and rub it.  Twenty years of tarnish came right off! By using your finger you can feel if there is a spot where the pattern is starting to peel.
Be sure to test the paste on an inconspicuous spot.  The top of my decanter was already broken (I didn't do it!) so I figured that would be the best option.  

Rinse with warm water and towel dry.  When I put the china away, I grabbed a few silica packets I'd been hoarding and strategically placed on each of the shelves.  This cuts down in the moisture in there, thus cutting down on tarnish.  You can find them in about anything, but I prefer the little ones that come in new medicine bottles.

If you have a lot cleaning to do, I suggest putting a towel over your work space so you can shake it clean from baking soda paste every now and then.

This Pin (site link) from Pinterest is a great way to clean things that are strictly silver.  However, I personally am weary on using this method when you've got more than one kind of material involved.  I'm not sure what soaking a plate long enough for the silver to clean up, would do to the plate itself, for example.  And I'm in no hurry to test and find that it ends badly, but I doubt it would.

Now, as I don't have any before shots to compare the difference this made, I'm just going to show off a little bit of the china itself.

Place settings for 8

Plus little sugar and creamer dishes

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