Stained and tarnished silverware can ruin the appearance of any table setting. Get rid of unsightly spots and discolorations from all types of flatware when you use the proper cleaning solutions. Mix your own earth-friendly cleansers and polishes to make your silverware sparkle without using any toxic chemicals. You can also keep your shining flatware spot- and tarnish-free by properly washing, drying and storing the pieces.
Remove annoying water spots and streaks from stainless-steel flatware by dampening a soft, clean dish towel with olive oil and rubbing it over the unattractive blemishes until they disappear. Wipe your spot-free pieces with a cloth dampened with vinegar to polish and shine the stainless-steel items and to remove any heat-related stains. You also can substitute club soda for vinegar to produce shine. Alternatively, mix 1 teaspoon of ammonia with 1 gallon of hot water in a utility bucket; place your stainless-steel flatware in the cleaning solution to soak until they are sparkling clean. Rinse the pieces with clear, hot water and dry them thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Clean your silver and silver-plated silverware by mixing an organic solution of 1 tablespoon of salt with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of hot water. Double the cleaning solution if you have numerous pieces of flatware to clean. Pour the cleaning solution into a small pan and submerge the stained flatware, along with a 3-inch piece of aluminum foil, into the liquid cleaner for up to one hour, depending on the amount of tarnish and spots. The vinegar and salt react to the aluminum foil to make your silverware spot- and tarnish-free. Rinse each piece of silverware with clear water and wipe dry with a soft, clean cloth.
Store all of your silverware in protected areas, such as the drawers of a china cabinet or lined flatware chests with low humidity levels that are also free from dust, particles and surface grime. Place a small container filled with a few capsules of activated charcoal in your storage spaces to guard against gases in the air that can tarnish your silverware. You can also add a piece of white chalk to the area where your flatware is stored to help prevent tarnish. Avoid storing tarnish-producing items, such as onions, paints, latex gloves, rubber, wool or felt, near your silverware.
You can prevent your flatware from getting stains and discoloration caused by stuck-on foods by rinsing each used utensil before you place it in the dishwasher or by hand-washing the pieces. Hand-washing your silverware with a natural dish detergent helps to preserve the shine, as opposed to placing the items in your dishwasher. In addition, you can keep your flatware looking its best by using hot water to wash it, drying the pieces immediately, and by avoiding soaking your utensils for long periods of time or pouring detergent directly on your flatware.