Washing silver immediately after use helps prevent tarnish. Tarnish is caused by sulfides from food, contact with rubber or smoke and gas in the air. If food is left on silver for periods as short as one hour, it can stain sterling. Be especially wary of foods such as mayonnaise, vinegar, and eggs. If you cannot wash it immediately, rinse thoroughly, but do not leave to soak.
Most sterling flatware, except for knives, may be placed in the dishwasher. For best results, remove flatware before the drying cycle begins and dry throughout with a soft, cotton cloth. When you use the dishwasher for cleaning, use a mild, non-citrus detergent, do not overcrowd the flatware baskets, and take care not to place sterling in direct contact with stainless steel.
If washing by hand, put a rubber mat or dishtowel in the bottom of the sink to prevent contact between the silver and any metals that are a part of the sink.
Use a soft cloth, mild detergent, and hot water to clean silver. Avoid all citrus detergents as they can cause rust spots on silver handles and blades. Never use abrasive pads or steel wool to remove debris.
Dry silver immediately after washing with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.
Avoid placing silver on hot surfaces such as heating elements, or near open flames.Polishing
Before beginning, wash pieces per recommendations above to clean off all debris. For example- if you are trying to remove candle wax from candlesticks- simply run the soiled area under hot water. Remove wax with your fingers, and avoid using knife blades to remove wax.
Dry each piece thoroughly before you begin to polish.
Apply a top grade silver polish in a gentle, circular motion, using a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid using "dip" polish and electrolytic cleaners as they contain harsh chemicals.
Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
Wash and dry each piece thoroughly to remove any access poish.Storage
Sterling, when not being used for extended periods, should be stored in a silver chest or drawer liner that has a tarnish resistant lining, or in felt bags.
Do not wrap silver in plastic food wrap or use rubber bands to secure the silver as plastic wrap and rubber bands can permanently bond to and discolor sterling silver.