Easily Revive Tarnished Flatware and Trophies
We’re sharing how to easily revive tarnished flatware and trophies today!
Any time I go out treasure hunting, I’m always drawn to certain pieces.
Rusty scales, chippy wood, brown and white transferware, ironstone, baskets, vintage trophies, monogrammed silverware, and French linens make me swoon every single time.
Decorating with Vintage Trophies…
While it might take some digging at first vintage flatware, silverplate trays, and trophies are so much fun to decorate with.
Basically, you can use them to hold teacups and add interest to bookshelves…
on equestrian-inspired tablescapes like the one we created for the Kentucky Derby.
or to add charm to your vanity.
Thrifted Finds: Tarnished Trophies and Flatware…
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to find three trophies in the same week!
The varied shapes were awesome.
But I could barely read the inscriptions because they were so heavily tarnished.
Around that same time, my Mom and I also found a set of flatware that was monogrammed with an LM.
They immediately reminded us of my childhood home, Loblolly Manor.
Consequently, even though they were also heavily tarnished we decided to take a chance.
Once we got home, I started looking for a simple way to take the tarnish off.
One of my late grandmothers used a mix of salt, baking soda, aluminum foil, and hot water to clean several of her silverplate pieces.
So, I decided to try the same solution to revive our tarnished flatware and trophies.
Given they were thrifted finds, I didn’t have anything to lose anyway.
Overall, it took a bit of trial and error but they came out better than I expected.
Here’s a look at our experience on how to revive tarnished flatware and trophies…
A Word of Caution Before You Start…
Just a word of caution before we get started. I’m not a silversmith nor do I have experience restoring antique items like flatware or trophies.
The pieces I’m sharing in this post were all relatively inexpensive finds we scored at estate sales, thrift stores, or outdoor antique events.
I would not use this method on any of our family’s heirloom silver pieces. We use Wright’s Silver Cream or take them to be professionally cleaned.
Above all, remember to do your research and use your best judgment if you decide to try this technique.
There are jewelers, silversmiths, and qualified craftsmen at most reputable jewelry stores, and auction houses that can restore heirloom pieces for you.
Revive a Tarnished Flatware and Trophies Supplies:
- Mild Dish Soap (We use the original blue Dawn)
- Microfiber Cloths
- Teapot or Kettle (to heat water)
- Long Handled Tongs
- Aluminum Foil
- Baking Soda
- Wright’s Silver Cream (a few of ours needed additional polishing)
- Silver Cream Sponge or polishing cloth
Revive Tarnished Flatware and Trophies Steps:
Gather your supplies and make sure you do this project in a well-ventilated area.
Wash your pieces using a mild dish detergent and a lint-free or microfiber cloth. Sometimes what looks like tarnish is actually just dirt and grime.
Line your clean sink with tin foil. Make sure the stopper is plugged in so you don’t lose any water.
Using caution and care, add hot water to your sink. This is a key element as it needs to be near boiling.
The amount of water you need depends on the sizes of your tarnished flatware and trophies.
Creating A Solution Bath…
After you have hot water in the sink, add salt and baking soda.
Again, the baking soda and salt to water ratio will depend on the size of your pieces.
If you’re doing something small like forks you might only need 2 tablespoons of each.
But if you’re doing something big like a trophy you might need approximately ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of salt.
Submerge the flatware or the trophy in the solution bath.
Make sure they are touching the aluminum foil and are covered by the hot water.
Allow the pieces to soak until you see the tarnish come off.
Some of mine took about 15 minutes and others took about 30 minutes to revive tarnished flatware and trophies.
Drying the Flatware and Trophies…
Once the flatware or trophies appear tarnish-free, use caution, care, and a set of tongs to remove the pieces from the water as the water will still be hot.
Rinse each piece with warm water and dry completely with a lint-free or microfiber cloth.
Things to Keep in Mind When Reviving Tarnished Flatware and Trophies…
Depending on the condition of the tarnished flatware or trophy, the tarnish may not all come off.
It may even turn a little yellow.
When that happens, I follow up with Wright’s Silver Cream or use a silver polishing cloth.
It’s much easier than spending hours trying to knock years of tarnish off.
Just be sure to read all the directions on the back of the Wrights bottle or container.
This process definitely takes a bit of patience.
Additionally, it also started smelling really bad in our kitchen (like rotten eggs) which is another thing to keep in mind.
All in all, though, I’m excited about the way we were able to revive our tarnished flatware and trophies.
These budget-friendly pieces turned out nice and maintained a bit of patina too.
Bonus, I can actually see the names of the events, the years the trophies were given out, and the names of the recipients too.
Let us know what fun thrifted finds you’ve scored lately in the comment section below!
Other Vintage Inspiration to Explore:
How to Create a Vintage Trophy Finish
Easily Paint and Age a Silver Serving Tray
How to Clean Vintage Pillowcases
Hey CoCo – First of all, your trophies are gorgeous! Secondly, thanks for sharing your cleaning method. We have not heard of using tin foil in the sink. Your grandmother is very resourceful and smart. We have a couple of trophies that need some cleaning and can’t wait to use this suggestion!
Thanks so much ladies! There definitely something about the combination of the tin foil, the baking soda and the hot water that has those bits of tarnish running scared. Hugs for a happy day, Coco
Wow Coco! These look fantastic! And you know I never thought to look for trophies as interest pieces for my bookshelves! Thank you so much for the decorating tip 🙂
Angeline, I love vintage trophies! They’re not always easy to find so I’m constantly keeping my eyes peeled for them. Can’t wait to see what you do with your bookshelves. Hugs, CoCo
Coco, I love all your vintage trophies and your tips are fabulous! I haven’t tried the baking soda trick so that looks awesome. Have a great day xo Lisa
It’s definitely a natural way to clean vintage trophies, Lisa and give those beauties a shine. Hope your day is awesome too, Coco
This works great on higher grade silver plate, but is fairly destructive on lightweight pieces I have found. In fact, it totally melted the seams of some Indian silver goblets I had. I wouldn’t use it on anything I truly cherished. If it’s a thrift store find you don’t mind ruining, go for it!
Thanks so much for letting us know about this, Teddee, we really appreciate it. I am so sorry that happened to your Indian silver goblets. As I shared in my post, I don’t know if I would try this method with my family’s silver but these trophies came from various thrift stores and were purchased for around $20. Your experience is a great reminder for all of us that we need to use our best judgment to decide if we want to try this method based on the quality of the silver and sentimentality of our vintage pieces. All the best, CoCo
Love your vintage trophies!! Great finds! I’m got a few pieces of my own to try this own. Love that this is inexpensive (gotta love a cheap box of baking soda) and no harsh chemicals!! Thanks for sharing!
Angie, I hope this works for you too! Just make sure the silver isn’t anything that’s heirloom quality. I would definitely take those to the jewelers. All three of these were inexpensive so I had nothing to lose by trying it. I swear baking soda is like a cure all. I bought a bigger box just this weekend 🙂 Hugs, Coco
Hi, Coco! I just wanted to let you know you are a LIFE-SAVER!! My daughter was awarded a trophy for Music Performance two years ago, and it has been proudly sitting on our living room shelf since then. She has now been asked to return it to the Music Committee, but it had become sadly tarnished over the period. I did an online search of how to restore a tarnished trophy and came across your blog. I must admit I had my doubts but reasoned that trying your method couldn’t possibly make things worse, and what did I have to lose? Well!! I tried it today and Voila!! The trophy came out looking even better than when my daughter received it! I can’t possibly thank you enough for getting us out of this scrape. She can now happily return the trophy. I am only sorry I didn’t do a before/after set of photos!!! Thank you so much, again!
That is so exciting to hear, Mrs. Thelma, happy to help! Congratulations to your daughter on her music performance and win too. While I wish she could have kept the trophy, I know her talent is still going strong and it’s always good to share the love. Music makes everything about our lives so much sweeter. I wouldn’t know what to do without it! Thanks so much for dropping by and hope your week is a special one, CoCo
Hey CoCo – this was a great post. I have a whole bin of silver plate flatware down in my basement and I have been dreading having to polish each piece individually. This method sounds like a good way to remove most of the tarnish on multiple pieces in one fell swoop – and then – if needed follow up with with silver polish cream. Definitely going to give this a try!
Thanks for sharing this method. This seems so much easier than what I normally do. I will try this!
Great tips. I definitely need to do this. Hugs to you, my friend.
I have a bowl and a tray I absolutely love, but could definitely use some sprucing up. Thanks for this post!
I love your beautiful trophies CoCo – you have a fabulous eye for thrift store finds! I agree with Anna that this would be a perfect method for a batch. Thanks for the great tips, and hope you’re having a lovely week!
I have several silver pieces I have been wanting to use and have not because I dread cleaning them! I’m going to pin this and try it! Thank you so much for the info! All of your silver pieces and trophies look so nice! Happy Day!
They turned out beautifully CoCo. I love monogrammed silverware, I had wanted to pick up a few pieces several years ago at an auction, and my husband said that is not our initials. I said I know, but I love them. He just shook his head, men… they never seem to understand our need for all of the pretty things. When we cleared out his parents home, I had to let go of so many trophies, but brought several home with me from the 30’s-50’s. I couldn’t resist! Thank you for sharing.
Such great information, CoCo! I actually have a box of old trophies that belong to my dad…just gathering dust in the basement. Time to spruce them up! Thanks for the information and inspiration!
Wow!! How neat!! That’s like magic. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing at Home Imagined this week, CoCo!!
Such a great tip. I’ve pinned and I’m sharing on Sunday.
Great tips CoCo! I go between wanting silver polished and then tarnished. The good thing is if it is polished, it won’t take long to tarnish again! Thanks for your tips! I’m excited to tell you that this post will be featured in Tuesday Turn About Link Party this week! Thanks so much for linking up and we hope to see you this week! Pinned 😊
This is great information for all of us who love silver! Thank you for sharing it. I’m featuring it this week on Farmhouse Friday. Hope your spring is going well. pinned