Silver is undoubtedly a beautiful metal, but it’s also frustrating to maintain, which is where a great silver polishing cloth can come in handy. Most other metals are susceptible to tarnish as well, but gold, silver, brass, and platinum are the most easily damaged. Clean silver shines brilliantly in the light, but tarnish can make it dull and dirty looking. If you’ve ever had to deal with tarnished silver, you know the frustration that comes with it. So today, I’ll be going over one of the best ways to clean silver and other metal surfaces: the silver polishing cloth.
What is a silver polishing cloth?
So, what exactly is a silver polishing cloth? Very basically, a silver polishing cloth is a polishing cloth made to clean silver and other metal surfaces. It’s treated with a layer of cleaning and polishing compounds on its surface, which work to buff out dirt and return some of that original gleaming shine.
Not only does it work as a cleaning cloth to remove dirt from sterling silver, but it’s also a great platinum, gold, and brass polisher, as well as any other metal surface that needs a little extra TLC. Some cloth polishers also work to clean mild scratches or stains on wood surfaces as well.
Why should you use one?
A silver polishing cloth is a great multiuse tool to have around for a variety of cleaning tasks. Sure, you’ve probably heard of plenty of other methods to clean metals, but there’s a few things to take into consideration to find the best one. Here are some of the most important:
- Faster cleaning
- Lower costs
- Environmentally friendly
- All-purpose cleaning
I know these might be a little vague, but don’t worry, I’ll go over all of them with a bit more detail now:
Who’s got the time?
Now I don’t know about you, but I am not a very patient person. Especially with cleaning, I really just want to finish everything as soon as possible. Basically, I’m obsessed with efficiency. So, my problem with a lot of other silver cleaners is that they take ages to work. For cream and liquid polishes, you have wait for them to soak, or set up a safe environment to work in. Not to mention the extra clean-up time if they’re toxic.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve stuck with a polishing cloth for more than just cleaning and polishing metal, is that it just does the job so much faster than any other method. There are no extra supplies needed, and no clean-up afterwards. With just one tool that takes care of almost any surface in my home, cleaning seems to go by in half the time.
Budgeting is your best friend
Anyone who’s had to clean silver before has probably had a run-in with metal polishing liquids. They’re costly and often dangerous liquids, but they do get the job done. However, they are also corrosive to skin, dangerous to the environment, and many let off dangerous fumes. Silver polishing cloths offer a great solution to these issues.
First of all, one single cleaning cloth from Champion Supplies cleans the same amount of silver as an entire gallon of standard liquid metal polish. Not only that, but it contains no harmful or toxic chemicals. A quality silver cleaning cloth like this one is not only safer, but costs less than your everyday liquid metal polish.
In this day and age, we’re all looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact, and a silver polishing cloth can be a great way to help. Liquid metal polishes are not only dangerous for you, but they can be very dangerous for the environment as well, especially to local rivers and streams if they’re washed down a sink.
Disposing of them safely after use can mean a trip to a toxic waste facility, or risking dumping toxic chemicals into the environment. Not to mention the single use aspect to liquid polishes. Depending on the polisher quality, liquid polishers can have more costs than benefits. Like I said earlier, a single silver polishing cloth can do as much cleaning as a gallon of metal polish for a fraction of the cost to both your wallet and the planet.
A silver polishing cloth also isn’t just for silver. In fact, it can be used for almost any metal. Fridge with streaks and fingerprints? No problem. Cloudy brass or nickel? Forget about it. Bluing stains on chrome exhaust pipes or machinery? Quick fix. A polishing cloth can quickly and safely remove dirt, grime, tarnish, and discoloration from both iron and non-iron based metal surfaces.
It’s flexible enough to clean the inner nuts and bolts of machinery, strong enough to break through tough layers of oxidation, and gentle enough to safely clean delicate precious metal jewelry and musical instruments like guitars, brass cymbals, violins and more. Not only that, but after the cleaning layer of the cloth has been used up, it can be put through a cycle in the wash to give you a soft dust rag for even more use.
How to choose the best silver cloth
There’s a lot that goes into making a good silver polishing cloth and looking at the factors we went over above is a good guide to follow when picking one out. Ideally, the best silver polishing cloth is both long-lasting and affordable. To give you a great place to start; a personal favorite of mine is the Sliver Polish Cloth (9″ x 11″) exclusively from Champion Supplies.
You can use this item as a gentle furniture cleanser as well, as it can rub out small scratches or stains in wood surfaces like tables. Also, it’s affordably priced, flexible enough for detailed cleaning, and durable enough to make it long-lasting. There are also plenty of other options on the market, but this one is the one I’ve found works best. It easy to use and requires no water. Just rub, buff, and shine.
How to polish metal
Silver polishing cloths are great for scrubbing off tarnish and keeping dirt from building up, but there are a few ways to make sure your surfaces need a serious scrubbing as little as possible. The best way to keep precious metals from tarnishing is to make sure you keep them in an environment least conducive to tarnishing. For different surfaces, that can mean different things, so let’s go through a few examples.
Even premium jewelry will inevitably tarnish, especially oversized premium jewelry, which I’ve found shows tarnish much more obviously. So, until science makes a few advancements, there are a couple of steps you can take to at least slow the process down. For jewelry care, the most important thing is to keep your pieces in a dry environment. Tarnish is caused by the metal reacting with oxygen and other compounds in the air, and even oils in your skin.
Another great way to keep bracelets, rings, and necklaces from appearing dirty is to give them a quick wipe or polish after you take them off. For silver, brass, and gold jewelry, the oils in your skin can be absorbed by the metal and cause discoloration. The easiest way to prevent this is to quickly use a jewelry cleaning cloth to remove the oils with a small polishing cloth just after you’ve taken them off. This stops the oils from building up and causing visible changes.
Make sure to pay extra attention to the clasps and chains on bracelets and necklaces, as well as any nooks and crannies on rings, charms, or pendants where dirt could be hiding. Pearls will also benefit from regular cleaning with a jewelry polishing cloth, as will platinum jewelry.
Another step to slow tarnish down is to store your jewelry wrapped in a flannel treated cloth. This little trick is a great way to keep the air off your jewelry, reducing exposure and slowing tarnish. Cloth jewelry cleaners are fairly easy to find and are easily interchangeable with a gold or sterling silver cleaning cloth.
Every musician knows that keeping their instrument in top condition is paramount to performance. Brass and woodwind instruments like trumpets and saxophones are especially susceptible to everyday wear-and-tear, but wooden instruments like guitars and violins can also lose their shine if they aren’t taken care of. Of course, the best protection for an instrument comes in the form of a high-quality case. While sometimes expensive, they are great for preventing environmental damage and they are definitely a worthwhile investment. It’s also best to clean them after every use, to prevent dirt from building up over time. You can buy specialty polish for instruments, but for a gentle polish, a silver polishing cloth can do the job just as well.
The number one enemy for kitchen surfaces is grease. Whether it’s coming from hands that leave streaky fingerprints, or spills from cooking accidents, grease in a kitchen is just as inevitable as death and taxes. Keeping with our theme, the best way to keep kitchen surfaces clean is preventing build-up.
For grease, this means cleaning up spills as soon as they happen and making sure fingerprint prone surfaces get wiped down regularly. Surface cleaning sprays are great for stoves and counter spills, while polishing cloths get rid of grime on surfaces like refrigerators and oven doors. Appliances are often treated to make sure water doesn’t damage them, but they are still vulnerable to fingerprints and general dust build-up. A quick cleaning with a polishing cloth makes a great addition to your kitchen cleaning routine to stop tough stains from building up.
Silverware and Pewter
Silverware is probably the one thing in your kitchen that gets polished the least. And most of the time that works great, normally you don’t need more than a dishwasher to clean your everyday stainless-steel dining utensils (although a little extra buffing every now and then will help them keep their shine for longer). However, if you’re lucky enough to be using sterling silver silverware, you’ve probably had to deal with tarnish before. Collectibles especially have fine detail work on the utensils, which means tarnish can really sneak up on you; hard to notice until it’s spread too far.
A polishing cloth will do the job quickly and easily, but if you’re in a pinch with super stubborn polish, a cream polish could be the solution. Cream polishes are slightly safer than liquid polishes but should still be handled with care. A more natural option is to soak your silverware in a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water to loosen tough dirt and tarnish, and then either washing in warm soapy water, or buffing with a polishing or cleaning cloth.
Pewter dishes are great for décor as well as practical uses. They’re made from a mix of several metals including copper and antimony, as well as either silver or lead. There’s no safe level of lead exposure, so watch out for blue discoloration in your antiques, as this is a sign they’re made with lead instead of silver.
Like any metal, pewter tarnishes when exposed to air, and antiques are especially vulnerable because of their age. However, because it has a low silver, it is slower to tarnish. Washing pewter dishes in warm, soapy water will keep them shining for the most part, and an all-purpose metal cleaner or polishing cloth can be used for tougher dirt. Like all metal, the key to keeping pewter its best is regular maintenance cleaning.
The Wrap Up
So, there it is, folks! All my best advice on keeping all your metal surfaces from jewelry to silverware to appliances free from tarnish and full of shine, as well as some tips on some of my best silver polishing tactics. I hope this article helped you with your cleaning routine, and I look forward to sharing some more of my cleaning tips with everyone soon.