How to clean vintage cutlery

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You’ll find vintage cutlery on Etsy, Ebay, at antique auctions and if you are lucky at your local charity shop. It needs to be cleaned before you use it to remove marks and tarnish to make sure that it is spotless and safe to eat with. Keep any items that are worn for decorative purposes – only use cutlery that has its silver plate intact to eat with. Both methods below work for silver cutlery as well as silver plate.

– Tomato ketchup removes tarnish on copper and silver and silver plate. Brush it generously on the metal (protect bone handles with tin foil first) and leave it for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and shine with a Jeyes or microfibre cloth. If the tarnish is stubborn, repeat. If the tarnish is entrenched soak the cutlery in a dish of tomato ketchup so that it is submerged.

– Use baking soda and hot water with vinegar and salt: Place 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a large tin-foil baking dish or a baking dish that you have lined with tin foil. Add two cups of hot water from the tap, a good splash of cheap white vinegar and a good pinch of salt. Leave room for the baking soda to bubble up. When it settles add the cutlery in a singe layer and let it sit there until the cutlery is shiny – take out a piece and check it and leave the items that need more help a little longer. (You can use this baking soda/vinegar/salt/hot water mixture to clean kitchen sinks and to pour down the sink to clean drains and remove odours.)

Note: always give expensive or antique vintage or antique cutlery to a specialist to clean. The methods above work for the cheaper pieces you pick up where you don’t mind losing patina. Antique items may need their patina to show their age and some buyers at auctions like to see it as a sign of authenticity.

– Resist the urge to wash silver plate cutlery or flatware in a dishwasher as it will tarnish and you won’t be able to bring it back to rights (that includes Newbridge Cutlery!).

– Never use silver plate cutlery that has oxidised and has green deposits on it to eat with. To remove green deposits (it means that the metal has corroded) place the cutlery in a dish of vinegar and leave for a few hours. Brush the corrosion with an old toothbrush.

– Store silver plate cutlery and flatware in plastic bags with a sachet of silica gel to stop it going rusty or tarnishing.  (Read about more uses in the kitchen for that silica gel packet you find in the box when you buy electronic equipment and other goods!)

Photograph copyright foodpixies.com

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