Silver is a precious metal that, like gold, creates exquisite pieces of jewelry and/or other ornaments. They are highly valuable and durable. While silver isn’t corrosive like iron, it does damage and tarnishes easily when exposed to the sulfides in the air. As a result, silver pieces need constant maintenance.
That is where a silver polishing cloth comes in handy. It’s a cloth specially designed to clean and polish silver, restoring it to its original shine. But what makes the cloth so special? In this post, we will be looking at what the silver cloth is made of, as well as, how it works or is used.
What Is A Silver Polishing Cloth Made Of?
As mentioned, a silver polishing cloth is specially designed to restore silver’s original shine through cleaning and polishing. It’s a faster and more affordable way of cleaning your silver. That is because of how it’s made.
A silver polishing cloth is generally a two-ply soft flannel made of 100% cotton sewn together. Its interior is treated with good quality tarnish inhibitors as well as cleaning and polishing compounds. This allows it to clean and buff out tarnish faster, and it’s also more affordable. The outer part of the cloth is made of soft microfiber that traps and retains any dirt from your silver. You can purchase the silver polishing cloth. Some of the popular brands are Goddard’s and Champion supplies.
Alternatively, you can make the polish cloth at home by soaking a clean soft square flannel cloth in a mixture of water and liquid silver polish and cleaning agents. Some people use sour milk instead. Squeeze out the excess liquid with gloved hands and let it dry. Once dried you can use the cloth to polish your silver as needed and then store it in a ziplocked bag.
What Chemicals Are in Silver Polishing Cloths?
The silver polishing cloths are said to be pretreated with non-abrasive chemicals. These are a mixture of anti-tarnish inhibitors and silver polishing agents.
Most tarnish inhibitors used for silver are said to contain a mixture of mercapto esters and amine salt. They clean off the tarnish and prevent the silver from tarnishing easily. As for the silver polishes, the majority of them contain sodium bicarbonate which is great in dealing with discoloration.
That is why when making the silver polish cloth at home, soak the flannel cloth in a solution containing ammonia or baking soda and vinegar (or lemon juice). These chemicals help in easily removing the tarnish off your silver ornaments.
How Does Silver Polishing Cloth Work?
When using a silver polishing cloth, start with the inner part of the cloth containing the polishing chemical compounds. Softly rub your moistened silver jewelry or ornament using the interior of the cloth. If your jewelry has intricate designs or creases that are hard to reach, you can use your nails or a toothpick to press the cloth into those tight spaces.
You’ll notice the cloth turning black in the sectioned used to rub the silver. This is because it is taking away the sulfides from the silver that are causing the tarnish.
Once the tarnish has been removed, rub the silver using the outer part of the fabric. This removes any remaining dirt on the silver. It also buffs and polishes it to make it shinier. The whole process requires patience and effort. The cloth is mostly suitable for thin layers of tarnish.
How to Use A Silver Cleaning Cloth Correctly?
While using the silver cloth, there are certain precautions you could take. To begin with, never moisten the cloth at any point of the polishing process with any form of liquid. The cloth has already been pre-treated with the necessary polish and anti-tarnish agents. Moisten the surface of the silver you wish to polish instead.
Additionally, after frequent use, the cloth will appear dark from all the tarnish. You should however not wash or launder the cloth. Since its pretreated, washing it will remove all the chemicals meant to help with polishing the silver.
The dirt on the cloth doesn’t however, affect the polishing property of the cloth, so you can keep using it or get a new one.
Alternatively, to lengthen the use of the cloth, you can fold it into small sections. After every polishing session, refold the cloth to use a clean section. That way you can use the cloth for several sessions before needing a new one.
Can A Silver Polishing Cloth Be Washed?
No. You should never wash a silver polishing cloth. Washing it destroys the polishing agents woven into the fabric of the cloth. Afterward, the cloth will be useless when it comes to polishing the silver. It is, however, still reusable even with the dirt on the fabric. The dirt doesn’t affect its polishing and cleaning abilities in any way. On average, a polishing cloth should be reusable for at least two years before you need a new one.
If you do notice that the cloth is no longer polishing properly it’s better to get a new one. At this point, you’ll notice the fabric starting to peal or form small fabric balls like in sweaters. Additionally, while polishing fold the cloth into sections so you only use a section per session. Once you’re done, keep the folded cloth in a sealable plastic bag.
Can You Use A Silver Polishing Cloth on Gold?
Yes, it is possible. While yellow and rosy gold doesn’t tarnish easily unless exposed to certain chemical compounds, white gold does tarnish over time especially for low karat gold. You can use the inner silver polishing cloth to remove the tarnish and the outer cloth to buff and polish any scratches on the gold. You will see an improvement; however, it will not be the brilliant original shine the gold had when it was new.
Note that you should avoid using a silver polishing cloth on gold plated or gold vermeil pieces. Polishing using the cloth will strip away the thin layer of gold. Use a soft cotton cloth instead.
Can You Use A Silver Polishing Cloth on Platinum?
Yes, it is possible but not effective. Silver’s main problem is tarnishing, which is why the silver polishing cloth was specifically designed to remove the tarnish and restore luster. Platinum on the other hand doesn’t tarnish. It becomes dull over time due to scratches from the constant wearing. The metal is also too hard to polish alone at home.
To properly restore the original shine of platinum and buff out all the scratches, it’s recommended that you visit a professional. You could also use a lint-free cloth to remove dirt and clean platinum. You don’t need a silver polishing cloth for this.
Can You Use A Silver Polishing Cloth on Brass or Copper?
Yes, you can. Like silver, brass and copper tend to tarnish and lose their luster. When oxidized copper forms copper sulfide among other compounds. The silver polishing cloth is designed to remove the tarnish from such metals especially by removing the sulfide from the metal. Hence, using a silver polishing cloth on copper and brass could be effective.
You may, however, need to do more work on the bras and copper unlike with the silver. The trick is, first clean the copper or brass pieces with warm water, mild soap, and a soft brush. Once the metal is clean and dry, you can finish up by polishing using the silver polishing cloth.
Can You Use A Silver Polishing Cloth on Stainless Steel?
Yes, it is possible. Unlike silver, stainless still doesn’t tarnish nor does it corrode. It does, however, get scratches and dirt. Hence, it requires frequent buffing and polishing as well as cleaning. The silver polishing cloth is made of non-abrasive polishing compounds, which aren’t meant to strip the silver when polishing. Steel is a harder metal compared to silver. So, it should be safe to use the silver polishing cloth on it.
A great tip, however, is to use the cloth after cleaning the stainless steel and removing the dirt. That way it will take less effort. Also, while rubbing the cloth on the surface of the steel, be gentle and try to follow the gradient of the metal. This will prevent deeper scratches that would require professional buffing.
Can You Use A Silver Polishing Cloth on Diamonds?
No, it is not advisable. While a diamond is a hard gemstone, it is not recommended to use any chemicals it especially on rough diamonds. The chemicals may end up doing more harm than good. Because the silver polishing cloth is pretreated with chemicals, it may not be a good idea to use it on your diamond.
If you wish to restore the shine to your diamond, the easiest way is to clean it using a soft brush and seltzer water mixed with mild soap. To re-polish your diamond it’s recommended to have it done by a professional jeweler.
When it comes to polishing and cleaning silver, you’ll save more money by using a silver polishing cloth. It’s a faster and easier method, plus the cloth is reusable for a long period if used properly. What’s more, you can use the silver polishing cloth on other metals, although it may not be as effective on gold, platinum, and stainless steel.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.