When reading about cleaning silver on the web, there seems to be some degree of ambiguity as to which methods are safe and which are not. There are so many chemical liquids, pastes, dips, electrochemical devices and solutions on the market. It’s a veritable minefield of potential mishap and detriment!
I have one of the cleaning plates which I’m inclined to use initially on newly purchased pieces (especially if they are serving or table pieces), but thereafter, I keep my table silver gleaming simply through daily use. I occasionally clean the flatware with the aluminium plate to remove the tarnish from the tips of the fork tines etc. After the preliminary cleaning, I simply maintain my other pieces with an occasional rub with an impregnated cloth.
Jeffrey Herman doesn’t recommend using a plate for cleaning silver as he claims it results in porosity of the silver’s surface.
I’ve read arguments both for and against the use of cleaning plates and washing soda as a means of removing tarnish. Would a serious collector or someone in the silver retail trade care to comment on the use of cleaning plates?
There also appears to be divided opinions on using “dip” cleaners. Would someone in the trade (who’s not pedalling a particular product) also care to comment on the use of dip cleaners.
The Silver Conservation page on the V&A Museum web sitewarns about over cleaning, but doesn’t point a finger at those methods that should be avoided.
The V&A briefly mention cleaning their silver with “solvents on cotton wool swabs”. Can anyone suggest what solvents they might be referring to? Are the solvents solely for removing the “colourless lacquer” that they recommend applying every ten years or so, or do they actually clean the tarnish off? Can anyone support the use of lacquering clean silver and recommend a product and/or the means of application (brush vs. spray?)?