Stop it with the Toothpaste Already!

On your silver I mean.

O.K. There is some controversy over this so let me tell you what I think.

I am a bit disappointed in some online magazines/blogs, that shall remain nameless, that are encouraging people to polish their silver with toothpaste or a paste made from baking soda just because some readers said you can. (This method was mentioned in comments sections, and without doing any research, they have repeated this without additional information.)

If you care enough to polish your silver, you probably plan on keeping it around a while. Both, baking soda and toothpaste have teeny, tiny grains in them. The suggested use (in the very naughty articles) is to rub this grainy paste all over your silver. Unfortunately, these grains are not tiny enough for my taste and can cause scratching. Yes, yes. It is a very small amount of scratching but it is visible and over time, these scratches start to accumulate and dull your beautiful heirlooms. They really won’t be the same.

You CAN use baking soda WITHOUT scratching your silver. Here’s how.

Why this method rules:

tarnish is dissolved, not removed by granular abrasion
no harsh chemicals
cheap
cheaper than toothpaste
many professional silversmiths from Tiffany and Co. swear by it
gets into tiny crevasses

Otherwise, find a polish made for cleaning silver. These are manufactured to have much smaller grains to minimize damage.

If you insist on using toothpaste for whatever reason,  (I’m not saying, do it!)
here are some other pointers for minimizing the damage:

Wash with warm water and a gentle dish soap first. You may be amazed at the amount of tarnish a little soap will remove.
Do not move in a circular motion. Rub in long strides.
Rub very gently
Use a 100% cotton cloth.

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July 8, 2010. Cleaning tips.

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