Learn step-by-step how to restore shine and deep clean your old silverware to safely remove tarnish, foggy finishes, and hard water stains.
We use our silverware every single day, and I’m assuming you probably do, too. But is it really as clean as you think it is? Sure, you pop them in the dishwasher after eating and you use the best dishwashing detergent money can buy. Good enough, right?
Over time, silverware gets a little gunky. If you look hard, you’ll notice your flatware is kind of foggy. Or at least not as shiny as it was when you first bought it. That’s a buildup of hard water and tarnish. By deep cleaning your flatware once every few months, you’ll always be eating with the cleanest utensils possible and they’ll always look as good as new.
First you’ll start by filling a big ol’ pot with water and pop it on the stove to heat to boiling.
Easy enough, right? See, I told you it was easy.
Line The Sink
While you’re waiting on the water to boil, plug the sink drain and line the basin with aluminum foil.
Yes, I realize this sounds crazy. But there is a method to my madness.
Build Your Natural Cleaner
Sprinkle in quite a good amount of baking soda (to clean the flatware) and iodized salt (as a safe abrasive cleaner) directly onto the foil. Then pour in a little bit of distilled vinegar and stir it around with your hands. (Don’t use a spoon, it will rip the foil) You can pop on some dishwashing gloves if you’d like.
This will activate the baking soda and form a thick paste.
PS: You can use leftover vinegar for my DIY Streak-Free Glass Cleaner Recipe!
Add All Of Your Silverware
Plop all your silverware right on top of your paste.
This is also a good time to take the divider tray out of the drawer and wash it, as well as wipe down the inside of the drawer. You’d be surprised how many crumbs end up in there. I still have no idea how this happens, but it’s very frustrating.
Carefully Pour In Boiling Water
Be very very careful when pouring in the water. Make sure you pour away from you, not towards you. There’s going to be an enormous amount of steam, so don’t worry if you need to take a break halfway through to keep from overheating your face. (Or fogging your glasses and not being able to see what you’re doing. That was my problem!)
Once you’ve emptied the pot of water into the sink, just let it hang out for a bit.
I let mine sit for 15 minutes, but you can do more or less depending on how dirty your flatware is. If you’ve owned them for twenty years and never done this before, you should probably let them hang out for thirty minutes.
Remove Silverware From Water
Again, be super careful here. The water is still hot.
Use tongs (silicone lined tongs would have been better but mine weren’t long enough for this) and remove the silverware from the water to the other side of the sink.
If you only have a single basin sink, you can move the silverware into a large roasting pan or large pot.
Rinse With Cold Water
Rinse the silverware with cold water to remove the cleaning mixture and lower the temperature so you can touch them.
After you rinse them, just let them hang out in the sink while you lay out a large bath towel onto the counter.
You’ll want half of the towel on the counter and half of it hanging off, like the photo below.
Lay Out The Silverware In A Single Layer
Move the clean silverware to the towel in a single layer. Then just flip the other end of the towel up and over the utensils and lightly rub them dry. This is way easier than drying each individual one.
Don’t skip this step! If you don’t dry them, you’ll end up with water spots and they won’t look as clean and shiny as they could.
Empty Sink Water
After the sink water has cooled, you can pull out the foil and empty the water.
By lining the sink with foil, it acts as a transfer for the tarnish on the utensils. You can see by my foil sheet how the ickiness just moves right onto the foil. Gross, but pretty cool.
**You’ll be even more grossed out when you look at the other side of the foil and see how dirty your sink was…
Repeat Every 3-6 Months
To keep your flatware nice and clean, and to prolong the life and shine of them, you can repeat this process every three to six months.
It only takes about thirty minutes and it’s a cool science project for your kids to join in on.
Like this post and want to clean more? Check out how to clean your dishwasher here.
On a major cleaning kick? You can see all of my cleaning tips and tutorials in this collection.