Removing tarnish from silverplate

I don’t know anything about silver. I mean, I know what it is – but as far as how that translates into how beautiful items for the home are made, how to identify them (and, more importantly, how to spot the imposters), and how to care for them? I don’t know anything.

So it was with some trepidation that I purchased this huge bowl at the Goodwill recently. It had two things going for it: the price, $4.99. And its shape – I was looking for a console bowl. It’s also quite large – about 10 inches across, and about 6 inches high. I used it as the vessel for our Christmas Day centerpiece, tarnish and all.



Right this second, my local Goodwill seems to have hit the motherlode on items apparently made of silver – there are creamers, trays, chafing dishes, tidbit trays, and more, and all tarnished – some worse than others – just like this bowl. After doing some research online, I think that my bowl – an example of holloware – is the Georgian pattern by Sheffield Silver Co. and is likely silverplated copper with a tin-clad bottom.

Anyway, I know tarnish generally equals “patina,” and patina is good… but I wanted to at least see what the bowl would look like without the patina. While shopping for actual silver polish, I came upon a product called Tarn-X, which claimed to be a wipe on/wipe off product for removing tarnish from several kinds of metal. Worth a shot, I thought.

I decided to try the product on a smaller item first – this letter opener started out in life as a dinner knife in the “Queen Bess” pattern by Oneida.



I opened the bottle of Tarn-X, poured a little into the cap, and used a Q-tip to rub it gently over the surface of the knife handle. I was surprised by two things: first, Tarn-X STINKS.


Seriously, rotten eggs mixed with hair perm chemicals or something – I am not kidding, it’s truly God-Awful.

And second, it worked! WOW, it really cleaned the tarnish right off! With virtually no effort on my part!



So, stench aside, I decided to move on to my Sheffield bowl. I would pour some Tarn-X onto my cloth and wipe it onto the surface, but it seemed to take some effort to remove the tarnish on the larger piece. That was okay – I wouldn’t call it strenuous work by any means. Then inside the bowl, I poured a little of the product directly in and swirled it around, and it was truly an immediate result – the tarnish disappeared before my very eyes. When swirling started to get too close to the outer edge of the bowl (I didn’t want to slosh this nasty-smelling stuff ANYWHERE), I simply wiped the whole thing out with my cloth – and used a Q-tip to get into the crevices of the design. Here’s the result, after maybe 10 minutes of very minimal effort:




I still need to apply a polish or glaze to slow future re-tarnishing, but I think both pieces look fantastic.

I’m not necessarily one to endorse a product, but I can tell you for sure that Tarn-X worked as promised on the items I was cleaning.

It stank, really really bad… but it worked, really really fast. I’ll definitely use it again, but I might plug my nose.



I’m linking my bit of silverplate victory to the “What’s It Wednesday” party over at Patti & Paula’s lovely blog, Ivy & Elephants. Please click through for more fabulous ideas!


More soon,




3 thoughts on “Removing tarnish from silverplate

  1. Tarn-X is one product that I’ve not yet used, but I’ll definitely give it a try. Usually I’ve worked with a paste polish, but there are a few pieces of my silver which are very difficult to clean, so maybe the tarn-x will work! Glad I read your post.

  2. Cynthia, thank you for stopping by! Yes I was actually looking for a paste polish when I found this first (okay I admit I was just too lazy to go to another store! LOL) so decided to try it. Apart from the smell, I was impressed! Hope it works for you!

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