It's quick, easy, relatively clean, requires almost no elbow grease and is kind to your silver too!
This method is suitable for both sterling silver and all types of silver plate, but is particularly good for electro plated items.
Why? Because electro plated silver has only a very very thin layer of silver on it, and this is removed by commercial silver cleaners like Silvo. So if you clean silver plate with Silvo constantly, eventually you'll literally clean the silver right off, exposing the base metal.
I'll use a couple of my Lewbury silver plate pieces to demonstrate. Another advantage of this method is that it is safe to use with bakelite and doesn't leave tell tale residue in crevices like silver cleaners do.
And as you can see it needs a clean. I'd have preferred to have some filthy pieces to show a more drastic result, but this is what I have on hand today.
Firstly, line a bucket with some alfoil, shiny side up.
Next, fill it up with very hot tap water and throw in a small handful of bicarbonate of soda.
Place the items to be cleaned in the bucket. It is important to ensure that each item is touching the alfoil.
If your items are too big to be completely submerged, that's ok, you'll just need to turn them around after about 15 minutes so all areas are cleaned.
The result after 20 minutes. If you look at the salt and pepper shakers on top, you can see quite a difference.
There's no set amount of time for this, but I've found through experience that 20-30 minutes is good.
When you take your items out of the bucket, rinse them under clean water. I then place them on a clean cotton tea towel or rag. And this is what your foil will look like-gross!
You'll usually find a whitish film on your silver. This will simply wipe off with your rag. Wipe all items thoroughly now. If there are some dirty spots remaining, give those areas a firm rub. They'll often come off, but if they don't, just repeat this process again.
Naturally, silver that hasn't been cleaned for a long time or is black will take a bit more work than my Lewbury; the worst silver piece I've ever had was an Art Deco teapot that was green and black- I had to do this 3 times, then I used Silvo in a just a couple of spots to make the finish absolutely perfect.
Et voila! My Lewbury babies back in situ, and looking an awful lot better.