Cleaning silver | Perfect and good are not enemies

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Cleaning silver

Cleaning silver. Option #1 - the sink

In my experience, the barriers to using silverware generally involve the issue of cleaning/polishing and the perception that silver is finicky and high-maintenance. Over the course of the last couple of years I’ve been trying to dispel that impression.  Cleaning silver should’t be the measure which determines whether you use it or not.

Silver is more durable than we think and it can safely go in the dishwasher provided you take a few commonsense precautions -> Silver in the Dishwasher.

Cleaning silver: Focus on the problem

Having said that, let’s focus in on the problem (silver is difficult to clean) not on which solution you choose to deal with it (dishwasher vs. hand-washing). Finding the approach to cleaning silver that works for you is the goal.

Over in the Twitterverse several weeks ago a few tweets flew back and forth regarding silver in the dishwasher. Among the various participants in the exchange was one Twitter friend who said that she still can’t bring herself to put her silver in the dishwasher.  However, I know from prior conversations with her that she uses her silver frequently, and then prefers to hand-wash it.

Here is the crucial point, for that person, hand-washing is not a barrier to using and enjoying her silver.

It doesn’t matter how she is cleaning silver, because for her the positive aspects of using her silver far outweigh any negatives that might be associated with hand-washing.  It may even be that she finds hand-washing a pleasant task in and of itself.  Several friends have told me they find it very zen to do the dishes after a meal.

Too much fuss

cleaning silver

Cleaning silver. Option #2 the dishwasher

My advocating use of the dishwasher is not directed to those who don’t mind (or even positively enjoy) hand-washing.

It is directed to those who rarely, if ever, use their silver because they feel it is too difficult to deal with.

It is to those who still have their silver tucked away in storage, or who look at silver and think ‘how lovely, if only it weren’t so high-maintenance’, just give using silverware a try. You have nothing to lose…not even the convenience of your dishwasher.


Don’t let perfect (hand-washing) become the enemy of good (dishwasher).

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3 thoughts on “Cleaning silver | Perfect and good are not enemies

  1. IvetteNo Gravatar

    So true. I do enjoy hand washing my sterling after a lovely dinner, it’s part of “playing with my toys” as far as I’m concerned. But I know many who simply never mind don’t use their silver, they simply don’t have any! I get that “doesn’t that tarnish???”

    In today’s era of lovely silver foam, it’s even far less maintenance to polish the silver than it was in the “old” days when I had silver polishing as one of my chores, and I thought my hands would fall off from the polishing and my nose explode from the stinky smell.

    Just this weekend I noted “oh my! it’s time to polish all the silver or Nan will have me for lunch.” Took no time at all, and the instant gratification is marvelous.

    I think the cleaning/maintenance issue will loom large with the crowd on May 6th, btw….


  2. Elisabeth BallNo Gravatar

    What a coincidence because I’ve been muttering this aphorism the past several weeks, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Pertains to silver too. Thanks, Nan!

  3. ElizabethNo Gravatar

    I too love hand washing my silver. A few forks and knives are no big deal to do each night. My grandmother used to say if you have beautiful things it is a joy to care for them. I get to appreciate the front and back of each piece as I clean them. I too feel like I am playing with my toys.

    (I even like polishing them the old fashioned way)

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