A New Way I’ve Found for Storing Silver or Silverplate to Slow or Prevent Tarnishing

A couple of months back I shared this wintery-themed table setting for Tablescape Thursday. The centerpiece for this table setting was two silverplate ornament trees purchased from Ross Simon around 20-25 years ago.

Swarovski Crystal Snowflake-Star Ornaments, 1991-2020

 

View this table in detail in this previous post: A Beautiful Bird-Themed China Pattern for Wintertime.

2015 Swarovski Crystal Snowflake Ornament

 

Since the ornament trees are silverplate, they have a tendency to tarnish easily. Not wanting to polish them every year for fear the silverplate would start to wear away, a few years back I purchased some very large, protective, storage bags made from silversmith’s cloth.  These large, blue, silversmith’s bags are designed especially for storing large silver or silverplate holloware pieces.

 

Though they don’t totally stop silver from ever tarnishing again, they definitely slow the process down drastically. They come in a variety of sizes and I very much recommend them if you have silverplate platters, bowls, candlesticks, or holloware that seems to tarnish easily. You’ll find them in various sizes here: Protective Bag for Larger Silverplate Pieces.

 

I don’t remember why now, but after placing both of my silverplate trees into the large, blue silversmith’s cloth bags last year to store them away, for some reason I also placed one of the bagged trees inside of a large plastic bag I had leftover from when I had purchased a comforter many years ago. I only had one of the plastic bags so only one tree got stored with this second layer of protection.

 

This year when I got the silverplate trees out to decorate them, I noticed something that really surprised me. The silverplate tree that had been double bagged, ( inside both the large silversmith’s bag and the plastic bag) was completely untarnished and needed no polishing at all. The tree that had just been inside the silversmith’s cloth bag alone, was slightly tarnished and required a small amount of polishing. Ummm.

Winter Table Setting, Snowflake Theme

 

I was really impressed with how effective the double-bagging had worked and how well having that outer layer of plastic had worked to stop all tarnishing.

 

So this year, before I put the trees back in storage, after placing them back inside their individual blue, silversmith’s cloth bags, I also placed them inside some extra-large, plastic, storage bags I found online. I really like these bags! The size was perfect for my trees and they even came with a pretty ribbon for tying them off.

I wanted to share this with you because though the silversmith’s bags worked quite well, that extra layer of protection really does seem to make a big difference in how little silver/silverplate tarnishes. I don’t think I’d store the trees alone inside the plastic bags, not sure that would be enough tarnish protection. But the blue silversmith’s cloth bags combined with the plastic storage bags should work well based on my experience with using the plastic, comforter bag over the silversmith’s cloth bags last year.

If you have any silver or silverplate items that you store in silversmith’s cloth bags, but still find they require a bit of polishing when you bring them out to use, you may want to try adding a plastic bag OVER the silversmith’s bag to see if that helps. I’m very happy to have discovered how well this double protection works. The less polishing I need to do, the better, especially when it comes to my silverplate pieces. The bags I purchased came in a set of 5 and are still available here: XL Clear Storage Bags.

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Comments

  1. Well THAT’S a great idea! And how fun that you got to do the experiment without even realizing it. Thanks for passing that along – I have a lot of silver I’d love to protect like that. 🙂 Happy Weekend!

  2. Try adding a piece of plain white chalk to your silver bag. It absorbs the moisture that causes tarnish. Has worked well for me.

  3. Sandra D in Joliet says

    I don’t have any silver but I do have oil based wood finishing products. In the past we would buy cheap marbles and drop them in the can as we used it to keep as much oxygen out to help keep it from skimming over and gelling. It worked kind of nice. Is it the oxygen and moisture that makes silver tarnish? Well, I just heard of a new product called Bloxygen that has been available for awhile now. You spray it into the can and quickly close the lid and seal it. I wonder if you sprayed some when storing silver if it would help too. Here’s a You Tube from a couple years ago if you interested in it. I don’t think I would use it in wine bottles or food though. Drink all your wine and eat all your avocado and you won’t have to worry about storing it-LOL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6BQXYd3RsM

  4. I remember reading that Bunny Williams does not even use the blue bags. She just uses the plastic and it works. She does not like that fact that you cannot see inside and she wants to be able to look at a glance and see what it is. I’ve done this as well. But you have to have no air coming through.

  5. Good to know. More important Susan, did the tornadoes come anywhere near you ? I forgot what county Atlanta is in.

  6. Meghann Boyd says

    I wrap my clean silver plate in Saran Wrap and place it in an extra large ziploc bag, or other plastic bag and never have to polish when I bring them out for the holidays.

  7. Michele M. says

    Yep. That’s because tarnishing is oxidation – putting in plastic then the cloth gave it one more layer away from air to cause oxidation.

    I love those trees by the way – you could use them for every season hanging themed items – even cute demitasse teacups when not a holiday season. They’re fabulous.

    Have a GREAT weekend, Susan!!

  8. My mom used to wrap the silver in Saran Wrap too. Dad would polish it and then she would wrap it. No tarnish. I don’t know if this would work on your ornament trees since they are so detailed.
    I always look forward to your blog.

  9. Natalie barton says

    Susan. Are you out of harms way from the tornadoes? Hope you are safe

    • I am. Thanks for asking, Natalie. You are so sweet to worry! The storms seem to go below Atlanta and then north of it the Atlanta area so they missed me this time. We just got a lot of rain.

  10. I second the Saran wrap method! I inherited some beautiful silver pieces from my mom that were stored for decades this way-just make sure the plastic wrap is firmly pressed onto the surface for the most tarnish protection. I’m going to place the pieces I can into zip lock bags too-thanks Meghann!

  11. I accidentally discovered this as well! I put some napkin rings in a silversmith cloth bag and then back into the plastic bag they arrived in eleven years ago. I use them every Thanksgiving and Xmas and have never had to polish them, they still look pristine. It was so odd and unexpected, I thought perhaps they weren’t real silver until I read your post. Thank you!

  12. For those of us that sew I purchased a length of Pacific Silver Cloth & made many bags to fit my silver. I even got lazy and used Stitch Witchery tape to make the seams (didn’t want to sew, lol). Used shoelaces as drawstrings or Velcro to secure the bag tops. Never used plastic on the outside but sounds like a great idea. Never heard of plastic wrap against the silver itself…I thought that it would leave marks against the item, depending on where it was stored (not in an attic or where there’s heat).

  13. Great helpful information, Susan. I use the silver cloth bags—love them! I also bought several yards of silver cloth that I can cut into various sizes.

    Another thing that helps slow tarnishing is putting a couple of sticks of school chalk in the silver cloth bags with the silver. The chalk absorbs moisture and environmental sulfur which is actually what causes the tarnish.

    I have two sets of sterling flatware, I wrap the forks, knives, spoons in sets of 8 with several layers of silver cloth. Then I place them in a clear plastic storage container with half dozen or so pieces of chalk, the container has an airtight lid.

    I just took out one set of sterling flatware (starting my Easter tablescaping LOL!) and after being in storage for a year and a half, only three pieces needed a little polishing. The rest of the set was shiny and tarnish-free.

  14. Selma C Kessler says

    Susan- How did I miss this post!? (Stupid work, anyway!) I always wondered if it wouldn’t help to put silver in plastic, and voila! Now I know! It makes perfect sense. Of course, my stuff will end up in a mis-matched array of plastic bags and end up looking like clutter, but as long as it’s behind a door, and has a label, I guess I’ll be ok! 🙂

    Hugs!

    Selma

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