Using and Caring for Sterling Silver Flatware

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Few things are more elegant than silverware that’s really silver. Sterling flatware is often associated with wealth and luxury. Such exquisite items surely aren’t made for use! But the truth is, there was a time when silver was the metal of choice for flatware. Whether you have plated, overlaid, or solid silver cutlery, it was made to be used; it can be safe. The only precaution necessary is that using and caring for sterling silver flatware takes slightly more effort than the abundantly common flimsy alloy variety we have nowadays.

Is It Safe To Eat With Silver?

Looking at tarnished or poorly cared-for silver almost uniformly gives people pause. It’s not surprising people wonder if it’s safe to interact with anything besides steel, glass, and plastic since that’s what most things are these days. However, there was a time when silverware was exactly that—silver plated with silver. Unlike many antique dishes, silver was not ousted from the scene due to toxicity. Any number of silver forks, spoons, and flatware are uniformly safe to use. Even the more valuable large dinnerware such as trays can be used so long as they’re given proper attention.

When it comes to plating, however, the layer of silver is much thinner. In other words, it will wear off much quicker. Normally this isn’t of any concern; worn silver plate and overlay can both be renewed with another layer of silver. Minute flakes of silver are not harmful, but you should still double-check the quality of the base metal. Investigate the details of your flatware by researching the model and brand to ensure the base is non-toxic and non-reactive.

Handling Tarnished Silver

While it may look unpleasant, even tarnish isn’t toxic. No need to worry about that spoon or fork with a dark spot or two. However, tarnish left unattended can permanently damage the silver and plating or leave unsightly pocks marks. If you intend to use silver daily, it must be cared for accordingly.

If a silver piece is left in the sink, or has particles on it, tarnish will happen quickly. For the most part, this can be gently wiped away with clean linen. Stains that are harder to remove shouldn’t be pursued with elbow grease, especially in the case of silver plate or overlay. Rough handling will expedite wear!

Caring for Daily Use Silver

Using and caring for sterling silver flatware in everyday applications requires extra attention. As soon as silver is used, it must be cleaned. Rough and hard scrubbing surfaces will only scratch and wear down your silver. Acidic cleaners can also damage it and cause stains. Instead, use linen or a soft sponge to gently wipe away any food. Unscented and phosphate-free soaps work well for general cleaning. Once done, dry off each piece and put them away. Ideally, silver does best in a tarnish-resistant case.

If you are keeping your silverware in a regular drawer, make sure each piece is carefully put away to avoid dents and scratches. You may need to polish more often as a result. Stick to rubbing with clean linens, silver buffers, and non-abrasive cleaners.

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