Conventional silver polish may help you wow your guests with flatware they can see their reflection in, but the polish can contain neurotoxic petroleum distillates, carcinogenic formaldehyde and respiratory-irritant ammonia. Who wants to eat off of that? Here are some easy tips to keep your silver shiny without the toxins.
Don’t put it away
One of the best and most fun ways to limit the amount of polishing you need to do is to use your silver on a daily basis. So instead of packing it away until next holiday season, keep it available. Having leftovers for your New Years Day feast? We swear they’ll taste better when you eat them with your silver flatware.
Avoid putting silver in the dishwasher where it can get scratched. The heat and detergents used in the dishwasher can whiten the silver over time. Instead, hand wash your silver with nontoxic, phosphate-free dish soap and dry immediately to avoid spotting.
Catch tarnish early
If you see your silver has a yellow cast to it, wash it immediately in nontoxic, phosphate-free dish soap. This is the beginning of tarnish and if you catch it now before it turns brown or black, it’s easy to remove.
Make your own silver polish
Most green cleaning sources recommend toothpaste as an effective nontoxic silver polish. All you do is rub on the toothpaste with a finger or cloth, then rinse and dry. The sparkling results are instant.
However, the Society of American Silversmiths strongly advises against using toothpaste on your silver because it can cause some long-term damage. The problem is that most toothpaste has a lot of extras like fluoride, baking soda, breath fresheners, etc., which can scratch the silver. A good compromise is to skip the toothpaste for family heirlooms or silver that has significant value. If you do use toothpaste, look for the most basic white toothpaste you can find.
Try a nontoxic silver polish
Look for a nontoxic silver cleaning product that lists all of its ingredients on the label, is plant-based, and uses natural essential oils for fragrance. Earth Friendly Products makes an effective one that is formaldehyde-free, phosphate-free, and chlorine-free.