How to clean the tarnished silver you’ve inherited
Everyone tells you NOT to clean or polish old, tarnished silver or it will ruin the value of the piece. If your item is a valuable antique, you obviously don’t want to do that. However, on everyday, modern silverplate or sterling, feel free to polish away and use it regularly! Actually, if you use your silver regularly and wash and dry it regularly, it won’t need polishing; it will stay pretty shiny.
Old items can be cleaned, but for the most part, that should be done only by a professional or you risk damaging the item. Here’s a gentle way to clean silver that won’t harm your piece: Fill a dish with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. Dry with a soft cloth so the item doesn’t spot. If that doesn’t work and your item dates from the 19th or 20th century, you can use a commercial cleaner or polishing cloth, available at a jewelry store, but never use the harsh silver dips (often sold in grocery stores or on TV) that will damage your piece. And do not put it in the dishwasher. Do not use baking soda (it’s abrasive). If it is older than that, or you suspect it might be, show it to a person who deals in antique silver and ask for advice.
P.S. What are the worst substances that cause tarnish? Sad experience has proven to me that eggs, lemon, mayonnaise, and mustard are all toxic to silver. After my silver touches any of those, I need to polish it right away.