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Taking Proper Care of Delicate Metal Objects

June 25, 1992|JANET LOWE

Every metal smith has stories about the mistreated items brought in for repair. "If only," the artisan laments--if only the owner had a better idea of how to take care of precious pieces.

Here are some of the do's and don'ts.

* Never store silver or other metal objects in plastic. Metal is like skin. It is porous and needs to breathe. Plastic wrapping can cause condensation and discoloration.

* Do store silver in old sheets, dish towels or other clean, soft, woven fabric.

* Don't put rubber bands around silver or around the material in which it is wrapped. The rubber band will deteriorate and the chemicals in the rubber can permanently stain the silver.

* Do wrap the silver loosely and tuck the ends around the object.

* Avoid leaving food on silver or other delicate metal tableware overnight, or letting flatware soak in water or soap suds. Wine, salad dressings, cranberry sauce, tomatoes, detergents and other acidic matter will stain the metal. Salt left in a shaker will corrode the top to the container.

* Do remove food and lightly wash silver immediately after it is used. Store salt and pepper shakers empty.

* Do not use homemade cleansers or anything abrasive to clean silver, brass, etc. These cleaners do more harm than good, including scratching or removing the finish.

* The exception is baking soda. Make a paste of the baking soda and use it to clean silver. It will not polish the metal, but that can be done with a polishing cloth. Most stores that offer household goods carry metal polishing cloths.

* Polish silver or other metals frequently. When people wait too long to polish, it takes so much work that they become discouraged. If the film is wiped off silver and it is rinsed about every six weeks, it will keep its shine with little effort.

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