Over time sterling silver can tarnish. A silver polishing cloth is a good way to remove tarnishing and keep your jewellery or silverware shiny.
A silver cleaning cloth is a two-ply soft cotton flannel that has been pretreated with non-abrasive chemicals. It contains both tarnish inhibitors and cleaning compounds to help restore the shine of silverware and jewellery.
How It Works
Silver polishing cloths are handy for quick cleans, especially on pieces with lots of curves or grooves that can’t be easily rubbed with a damp sponge or in places that aren’t suitable for getting wet (like a silver-plated candlestick or decorative pin cushion). Also useful for keeping tarnish at bay on items on display.
The interior white section of the polishing cloth is pretreated with chemicals (a mixture of tarnish inhibitors and silver polishing agents) that are released as you rub it. This removes the tarnish and leaves the silver shiny. The polishing cloths are good for a few uses until the white section turns black from all the tarnish it’s removed.
Do not launder a silver polishing cloth since this will remove the special cleaning chemicals from it. Instead, fold it into small sections and use a new clean section each time you polish. The cloths also come in a package that’s resealable and reclosable, making them easy to store.
Can It Be Washed?
A silver polishing cloth is a soft, lint-free cloth that’s been infused with chemical cleaners to remove tarnish from jewelry and silver flatware. It’s a mess-free way to clean silver, and it doesn’t require additional products or polishing creams.
The silver polishing cloth should never be washed, as this will destroy the chemicals that are woven into the fabric. The cloth will also turn gray or even black from the tarnish it has removed, but this is normal and doesn’t affect its cleaning ability.
If the cloth is starting to look dark, simply fold it into different sections and use a clean section each time you polish your silver. This will allow you to get more use out of the silver polishing cloth before it needs to be replaced. Once it has been used several times, you can store it with other silver supplies in a reclosable plastic bag. Alternatively, you can also use a silver storage cloth, such as Pacific Silvercloth, to keep your silver jewelry, flatware or hollowware tarnish-free.
Can It Be Used on Gold or Platinum?
Silver polishing cloths can be used to clean and buff gold. However, platinum does not tarnish and cannot be polished using this type of cloth. To restore the original shine of platinum jewelry or silver-plated hollowware, a professional should be consulted.
To avoid silver from tarnishing in the first place, store it in a sealable plastic bag or zippered sandwich bag. Another tip is to place the silver in a box lined with Pacific Cloth, which absorbs sulfur gases that cause tarnishing.
After a cleaning session, the polishing cloth may appear dark from all of the tarnish it removed. This is normal and will not affect its polishing ability. To lengthen the use of a silver polishing cloth, fold it into smaller sections and switch to a fresh section after each use. With regular household use, a polishing cloth lasts two years before it needs to be washed. This can be done by hand or in a laundry machine.
Does It Work?
A silver polishing cloth is usually a soft square flannel that is pretreated with non-abrasive chemicals. These include a mixture of anti-tarnish inhibitors and silver cleaning and polishing compounds. This helps remove tarnish from silver faster and more affordably than chemical dips.
To use the silver polishing cloth, simply rub the interior white section against the tarnished silver. The sulfides in the silver will transfer to the cloth and leave it looking darker gray or even black. It’s important to rub the silver lightly so that you don’t damage it.
A pretreated silver polishing cloth can be used again and again, though it may need to be laundered after it starts to look dirty. Laundering the cloth will remove its special tarnish-cleaning compounds, but it will still work to clean silver. The cloth can also be rolled up and stored in a reclosable plastic bag for future use. Jeanne and Mark Donowits recommend a similar product, Hagerty Silver Foam, which is also not abrasive.