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Polishing and cleaning sterling silver

Hi guys!

I’ve been finding that when I try and get my pieces very clean after polishing there’s always some black residue left. Does anyone have any suggestions for something I can do to keep it perfectly clean after a polish?


Goop! Cleans your hands while it cleans your jewelry. I just bought a gallon of it. Make to get the kind that doesn’t have pumice in it…Rob

Make “sure” to get…The eyes are going, or maybe it’s the brain.

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Thank you either way I appreciate your help :smile: I just ordered some!

I usually clean my hands first and then dry them as water washes goop away. Once your hands are dry, squeeze a little goop into your hands and work it into the jewelry piece, scrub with an old toothbrush, rinse and you should be good to go. I don’t own a steam cleaner, if I did, it might take the place of goop…Rob


Sigh. Polishing compounds really like to stick to silver and leave drag marks. Even if you remove the dragged on compound in the sonic You will often find unpolished haze marks where the compound was.
When polishing silver if I want a perfect finish without compound drag lines I do what I call a “Wet Buffing.” I use Wrights silver polish, Twinkle, or Herman’s silver polish. After using tripoli I throughly clean the piece in my sonic and dry it with cotton only. No paper towels, no finger rubbing, no Kleenex even. Then I mount an unstitched flannel buff and apply a very small amount of rouge. Now here comes the messy part. I make a thin-ish slurry of silver polish and coat the piece. While it’s all wet and drippy with a coating of polish paste on it I then buff on the wheel while I repeatedly add more moisture to the piece. In the old days Kerosene was used as a polishing lubricant. The smell was awful. Though a watery soapy solution works I find the silver polish does a better job. It’s messy but then jewelry making is a messy business anyway. After rinsing be sure to only use cotton to dry.


Rob- I wouldn’t use a tooth brush on a silver mirror finish. The bristles will leave scratches.


Jo…Thanks for pointing that out. I forgot to mention that the toothbrush should be well used and I follow up with a light rouge polishing…Rob

I forgot to mention that the cups are beautiful. Would you be willing to share your polishing procedure. I am especially interested in how people might use different papers or abrasive pads. I just bought a set that go from 1,200 - 20,000 grit, but have yet to use them. Thanks…Rob


Jo, Thank you so much for your history on what really works. I really appreciate other views.

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If you feel the need to use a brush a soft, goat-hair washout brush is soft enough to not leave scratches.

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I am curious if a steam cleaner will remove the deep polishing dirt that gets stuck in the heavy twisted bracelets that my family has made for over 80 years. I don’t own one, but will if it will work. We have always used a hot solution of sudsy ammonia and water and more recently with a little touch of Dawn added. I discovered that goop easily removes this dirt, especially if brushed with a soft brush. In the end whatever removes the dirt and leaves the high finish is the solution that the OP and I are looking for. Post cleaning the piece can be touched up with a quick spin on the rouge wheel. Any thoughts are appreciated…Rob

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Try to soak them in Ammonia, (the perfumed one is easier on the nose(, works wonders and dissolves All the polishing vax residue.

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I use plain old Dawn dish liquid, the same that I use in my tumbler. I’ve had good results with a kids extra-soft toothbrush, but if you want to be extra careful you might try using an irrigation syringe to do a miniaturized “pressure wash” on the piece with warm soapy water. You can get the syringes on Amazon, or at pharmacies.


Hi Jo!

I wish I could get Wrights in my country… Do you get it locally or do you have to order it? I seem to recall it wasn’t easy to find in my visits to the States years ago–even in NYC!

I still use kerosene as a polishing lubricant :-). I touch a fingertip to it and gently dab it on the metal and I also use an unstitched soft buff. The kerosene and the bit of rouge remaining on the piece usually give a good shine with no gunk :-).

Janet in Jerusalem

Janet- How are things in Jerusalem? I hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy.
I order Wrights or Twinkle on Amazon. I get jeffery herman’s silver polish online as well.

Jo…I have never heard or read your description of wet polishing with Wrights, Twinkle or Hermans polish. Thanks for sharing it. I do, from time to time, get the drag marks that you describe, but keep on polishing until they disappear. Maybe they really don’t disappear. I will have to take a closer look under my microscope to see. I know that I need to work on my cleaning operation: new sonic, steam cleaner etc. I also need to install a sink in my shop so that I don’t get yelled at for messing up the kitchen sink. We have always cleaned with a hot solution (sometimes boiling) of ammonia, water and a drop of Dawn and cleaned with a soft brush, rinse and dry with a cotton towel. Thanks again…Rob

Rob- I learned that trick when I did silver restoration. Getting a perfect polish on a large silver tray can be such a bitch. I usually only do the wet buffing if I have a large or flat surface that needs to have a mirror polish.
I also learned then not to use very much compound when using rouge.

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That definitely happened to me yesterday. I’ve been using Luxor compounds on new buffs, had great results. All of a sudden hard to remove dry black gunk is being smeared on everything the buffs touch. I’m guessing way too much compound on the buffs?

Will raking clean the buffs? I read somewhere or saw on a video that one should use a dedicated rake for each compound to prevent contaminating buffs using finer compound with grit from coarser compound buffs.

The few times I tried raking the buffs got really messed up with lots of threads sticking out to make loads of drag marks. : ( I’d love to avoid that.

The buffing machine is my nemesis, but the 4" buffs Luxor specifies are easier for me to deal with.

Neil A