Sometimes, as a faithfully devoted husband, concessions are made when it comes time to decide how my time is spent. This post is a detailed account of one aforementioned concession.
On a recent innocent trip to a local second-hand store to pick up some vintage picture frames for Renegade, my dear wife spotted this fancy silver tray/dish/thingy. The second she saw it, she squealed with delight and proclaimed that it would be her new jewelry/lotion/perfume catcher-aller on our tiny bedroom dresser. (I swear she resembles a curious raccoon in her immediate attraction to shiny things!) Ten dollars later, we were out the door with no frames (womp-womp), but we did have a shiny, if not scuffed and slightly tarnished, tray/dish/thingy.
After the rest of our errands were run, we returned home and busted out the gloves and our favorite metal polish, Eagle One Nevr-Dull. Generally used on grills, raw metal, chrome auto parts and manly things, we’ve used the stuff on lamps and other effeminate interior bits in the past with largely great results.
You can see how effective (we thought) it was working – the polished side is there on the left. Shiny, right? (Er, left. Shiny, left, right?) Kim’s inner raccoon was squealing with delight!
And here we have the shiny catcher-aller in all it’s lotion holding glory. Admittedly, it was looking pretty swell…
Until it all went to hell in a hand-basket! Dang! Look at all that nasty yellow tarnish! Tarnish! No more than a week later, the yellowing was back to worse than it was when we brought the tray/dish/thingy home.
Unwilling to admit defeat – and wearing a new shirt – I got to work with our second favorite metal polish, Brasso. Normally used around here to polish clocks, we figured it would be a great fit for the unknown alloy that plated the tray/dish/thingy. (Oxidation? Maybe? Any science-y friends who’d like to chime in?)
It’s a bit tough to see in the photos, but it seemed to be working…
Until a few days later when it wasn’t. Dang again! Here’s a photo that should look familiar.
I’m at my wit’s end! What kind of impenetrable mystery alloy am I dealing with here? What kind of cruel joke is the universe playing on me? Why won’t this darn thing stay shiny and silver?
I’m calling for help on this one; there are no telling markings on the bottom of the tray/dish/thingy that might give valuable clues on how to properly maximize it’s raccoon appeal. Is there a way to determine what polish might keep it shiny for more than a few days, or are we forever cursed to tarnished nonsense?
Silver = Silver polish, silly man. You can buy the paste, the liquid (I prefer for intricate stuff), or the wipes. Check your local Wally World or Tarjay.
How kind of you to keep at it :-) Perhaps I am just not understanding the other polishes…but have you tried a true silverware polish? I’ve used both the dip and the paste with fantastic results. I was also told to dip my silver jewellery in lemon juice after polishing it up in order to prevent tarnishing. I would imagine that would work in this case too. Good luck!
My grandmother always uses Tarnex for her silver and I’ve been using it for mine as well. It can be hard to find though, if you can’t find it in stores check online on Amazon.
Ha, thanks, guys! To be honest, we weren’t even sure if the tray was true silver, since Eagle One claims to work wonders on silver… The dip idea sounds good though!
Is there a way to test the actual metal we’re dealing with? Or are we all in agreement that this is very obviously silver? Oh, we feel silly…
Silver will continue to oxidize as it is exposed to air, no polish will keep it shiny and beautiful forever. One thing you could try is to spritz very lightly with aerosol hairspray to keep the air off the surface (after you’ve polished again).
I have a wall hook from anthropologie from years ago made of two vintage silver spoons. Those puppies tarnished like it was their job! So I polished them very well and coated them with clear nail polish. Problem solved. Although you probably don’t want to coat that whole tray with clear nail polish, so try the hairspray.
As to the metal content, I’m assuming you’ve checked the bottom for any potential engraving? If it says 925 anywhere, it’s sterling silver.
I have a silver catchall on my dresser and I just let it get tarnished. However, I have some brass hardware in my house that I like to keep shiny. After polishing I just rub on a bit of car wax, like turtle wax to keep it from oxidizing. Maybe there is a product made for this purpose, but I just used what I had on hand and it has worked very well.
I know it’s pretty ghetto, but for non-food, stubbornly yellowing items, rinse, dry and coat with clear polyurethane. Boom.
Rae, we’re not above ghetto. We could see that working…
Rachel and Tiny Homestead – thank you both so much! We felt like we were going crazy, and we wondered, what are we doing wrong?
There are no etchings of any kind on the tray, but the turtle wax, hairspray and coating it with a clear coat are all great tips!
Sorry, I’m no help about the polish. But I just had to say, Kim, I knew you would be a Clinique Happy Heart wearer. It fits you. :)
Julia, haha, you just made my heart so happy! I’ve been wearing that scent since I was 16.
I can’t believe that no one has suggested this!…It is so so so easy and probably the only reason I own anything silver as a decorative container in my home… Boil a tea pot or large pot full of water, grab another dish – I use whatever size I need to fully submerse the tarnished item usually my large lasagna pan and line the bottom with a piece of tin foil. Place the silver on top of the tin foil and dust baking soda over the silver to cover it, then pour the boiling hot water in the pan lined with foil, your silver and baking soda.. it will bubble and fizzle and might smell a little like eggs. Keep sprinkling baking soda over it until it stops fizzing. The tarnish is magically washed away from your silver! It the best and easiest way to polish silver IMHO. Make sure after you remove it that you rinse it lightly and dry it completely. Any little imperfections left (if any) can usually be buffed out with a soft cloth.
Oh one last thing I’ve learned about silver.. do no store anything made of rubber on or near your tray, rubber for some reason corrodes silver faster…
Melissa, thank you! We’ve never heard of this tip – baking soda, who knew? What can’t it do?! We’ll give it a shot!
Hi Scott, Hi Kim,
Melissa is right, use her natural method and you’ll be surprised, no need to buy any polish. You can also try with toothpaste, it works well too. You just rub your tray with an old toothbrush and some toothpaste, and rinse it under water before complete dry. And that’s it ! But anyway, I’m afraid you’ll have to do it regularly, unless some varnish could be sprayed on the tray ?
We never thought to varnish the tray, but as something that will never have food on it, we’re starting to think this may be the way to go! You guys have been very, very helpful. Thank you so much!
I’ve used the baking soda method with great results. Once the silver is cleaned, a coat of poly works, or you could try Renaissance Wax. It’s a little pricey, but it does a great job!
I wish I could pin all of these amazing silver suggestions. I’m just as ignorant of how to care for silver, and am appreciative of all your readers for chiming in with such helpful tips!