Oh the countless emails I get asking about silver. It seems mother-in-laws like to break out their darling sons' cups/spoons/teething rings and pop them into the next generations mouths. Come to think of it, all grandparents like to do this my own mother unearthed similar heirlooms for my daughter. The silver isnt the issue, its the noxious silver polish used to clean the antiques off before proffering them that the moms are writing about. Theyre right to ask.
Here are two silver queries Ive gotten recently:
I had a question I was hoping you could answer. Is there a safe way to polish silver? Those nasty chemicals seem bad enough for polishing jewelry (I wear gloves when I do it) but horrifying when you think about polishing silverware you eat with or teething rattles and such. My answer has been to just leave those things tarnished, but I was wondering if there was another way?
My mother-in-law uses silver baby cups that belonged to my husband since I told her she can't use plastic -- and as we speak I am watching her polish a cup that we will be using later today -- thoughts?
Thankfully theres a seriously simple, eons less toxic, and readily available solution: toothpaste. Whatever youve got, it works. If youre someone who brushes with heavily fluoridated triple pasted drugstore brand goop or the more natural baking-soda plus peppermint type, it all does the trick. Some say white is best. Way way back in the day, I used to use the traditional pink silver polish toxic stuff. Now Im a toothpaste devotee and I swear I cant tell the difference between the two. My silver continues to be just as shiny. And it feels quite good not to worry about what sort of residue is on the cups, plates, utensils, even earrings. I can live with a little leftover toothpaste on my rings and bracelets.
I like to think of toothpaste polish as a gateway to home-found (or even home-made) solutions. There are countless other things that happen in a household everyday -- from polishing wood furniture to buffing brass to shampooing the dog that can be tackled with similar solutions. One excellent resource for this I-have-what-I-need-in-my-cabinet approach is Better Basics For Home by Annie Berthold Bond. Any itch you need to scratch, look it up in her index before using what youd normally use. The responses range from Why-didnt-I-think-of-that to Huh!?-that-works?! And invariably, it does.
Got favorite home tricks? Post them in comments.
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