Wash, or at the very least, rinse your sterling or silver plate immediately after use. If food is left on your silver for an extended period of time, it can stain or damage the metal. Acidic or corrosive foods such as mayonnaise, salt, vinegar, or eggs are especially problematic.
Avoid soaking your silver in water overnight. Prolonged immersion can damage your piece.
Wash your silver in hot, soapy water using a mild detergent. Be wary of lemon-scented detergents as these have been known to cause rust spots on silver handles and blades. Washing your silverware one piece at a time will help you to prevent bumping and scratching between pieces. Also, don’t wash stainless steel and silverware together. This can damage your silver. Dry your silver immediately after washing to avoid water spots.
Hollow handled pieces such as knives and servers should never go in the dishwasher, as the high temperatures can loosen the adhesive in these handles, causing a rattling noise. Also, pieces with intricate, oxidized patterns should be kept out of the dishwasher as the pattern may be dissolved. However, many other types of silverware can go in the dishwasher safely. Just use a minimal amount of detergent and remove your silverware prior to the drying cycle. Again do not wash stainless steel and silverware together in the same dishwasher basket. This direct contact can ruin your silver.
To polish, first wipe away any dust with a soft cloth. Next, remove tarnish using a liquid or paste silver polish applied with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse your piece to remove any excess polish and dry thoroughly.
Never wrap your silver in newspaper, aluminum foil, or plastic. Tying silverware with rubber bands can also result in permanent damage.
Dampness and direct sunlight will cause your silver to tarnish more quickly. Silverware is best stored in a dark, dry place such as a silver chest lined with felt or tarnish resistant cloth. Felt wraps or protective bags are also suitable. Avoid storing your silver directly on wood surfaces as some woods contain acids which can destroy your silver’s finish.
Don’t be afraid to use your silver daily! Frequent use will reduce tarnish and produce a patina, which many people feel actually enhances the value of your set. Just remember to rotate the pieces you use so that you get an even patina throughout your entire set.