Care & Storage of Cutlery
Silver care and storage for silver or silver-plated cutlery
Silverware is for daily use, and typically silver is used for making the most valuable tableware – cutlery, flatware and holloware – the latter means drinking vessels, tea and coffee services etc. All these products need a visibly clean, attractive, strong and inert metal for contact with food and mouth, and silver has always been and remains the best and most durable choice.
Old silverware is fragile. For this reason, many still assume that silverplated cutlery should not be put in the dishwasher. In fact, modern silverplated cutlery is dishwasher safe in most cases as long as it does not have any special lacquers or coatings. The best care for your silver and silverplated cutlery is simply regular use.
For best results in the dishwasher, the following recommendations are helpful:
- Remove coarse food residues in advance and wash cutlery quickly
- Use gentle programmes with temperatures below 50 °C
- Do not wash together with aluminium or stainless steel utensils
- Open the dishwasher door immediately after washing to avoid water stains
With regular use, silver takes on a ‘patina’ from the myriad of scratches that scatter the light that falls on its surface in all directions. You get a depth of blue-black colour from the sanding, polishing and extensive preparation given to the best silverware and cutlery during production processes, and the patina which develops from constant use enhances its appearance.
All good quality silver cutlery – and all cutlery sold by us – is dishwasher safe. However, dishwashers sometimes leave water stains on metal and crystal surfaces, this is more likely in hard water areas. If this offends, check that your dishwasher salt reservoir is regularly topped up, and buy lemon-free dishwashing tablets or powder. If it still occurs you can overcome the problem by hand washing and drying.
If food obstinately adheres to cutlery soak it in warm, soapy water for a while, never use scouring pads or powder. Knife blades should be wiped dry immediately after washing to avoid water stains, if washing and drying by hand.
Whether washing by hand or dishwasher, the best results are always obtained by drying immediately. In the case of dishwashing machines, this means removing the cutlery from the machine as soon as it completes its task. Cutlery will not harm by being left unwashed after a meal, simply leave it soaking in warm soapy water until it is convenient to wash and dry it.
Why does silver tarnish?
Silver tarnishes when oxygen or sulphur binds with the surface of the precious metal. The resulting silver oxide coating is dark and dull. Fortunately, silver and oxygen react very slowly – it takes a long time before you can see any discolouring. Silver and sulphur, however, react within a very short time.
Especially hydrogen sulphide tarnishes silver in no time. It can be found in the air and in some protein-rich foods like eggs and fish. Tarnished silver is a nuisance, but not a disaster: silver care products make cleaning quick and easy and special silver storage can slow down the tarnishing process in the future.
Tarnishing, caused by foodstuffs which contain sulphur, can be best and most quickly removed by – when necessary – washing the cutlery by hand and, while it is still wet, wiping it over with a proprietary silver foam. Goddards, Hagerty and Town Talk are all good brands and can be purchased in a supermarket or hardware store, or direct from Lincoln House. The foam, which comes in a tub, is supplied with a sponge for the purpose. Once the foam has been applied to all the cutlery pieces, rinse and dry them. It is by far the easiest and quickest way of removing any tarnish. If we supply silver cutlery in a cabinet, we will have enclosed some Cutlery Strips to keep with your cutlery – these inhibit tarnishing occurring during storage.
Proprietary silver polishes also work well, but more effort and time is required. Silver dips are preferred by some people, but not by us. It is important to avoid getting any dip on the knife blades – or on a stainless steel sink and draining board. Stale silver dip can stain the silver, though not irreversibly, it can be polished off with effort and a good silver polish.
Overall, silver and good quality silver plate are very practical and hard wearing, and of course, stainless steel cutlery is perhaps the best choice if you never want to clean silver! Many of our patterns are available in sterling, silver plate and stainless steel, so choose the one that suits your lifestyle the best!
How do you protect silver cutlery from tarnishing?
The best way to keep your silverware in good shape is to use it every day, whether it is silver-plated cutlery or sterling silver cutlery. If you always use it and wash it in the dishwasher after every use, it will not have the opportunity to tarnish. Silverware collections with lacquered handles or precious metal applications that are not dishwasher-safe can be cared for simply by washing them regularly by hand.
For many, however, using their silver cutlery every day is not an option. The cutlery disappears inside a cabinet and is only taken out on special occasions. Unfortunately, inadequate storage will lead to tarnishing. Investing in a proper storage solution for silver cutlery is essential to avoid having to clean before every formal occasion.
What makes a good silver cutlery chest?
Good storage boxes for silverware keeps sulphur compounds away from the cutlery. Cutlery trays, boxes and chests that are designed for silverware are lined with antioxidant fabric. This slows down tarnishing considerably.
Felt lined drawers, cutlery cabinets and felt storage rolls are the best way of storing silver cutlery that is in constant use. These separate the knives, forks and spoons from each other and most of our cutlery cabinets hold each piece separately – this makes it easier to rotate the use of the pieces. Stacking cabinets, where pieces are stacked on top of each other, are not recommended for silver and silver plate but are fine for stainless steel cutlery.
Some cutlery trays and chests feature a special anti-tarnish cloth to cover the cutlery. It prevents sulphur in the air from reaching the silver cutlery even further. The silverware is protected and tarnishing only occurs in slow motion.
The right storage for your silver cutlery
Storage options for silver cutlery can take many forms. A cutlery tray can be quickly placed in any free drawer. A cutlery box or chest is often designed to stand free. Simple cutlery boxes have a lid to open like a suitcase; large cutlery chests have several tightly fit drawers. Some are so beautifully crafted that they can be displayed like treasure chests.