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Tray Shmay, Take Two

After Scott gave our thrifted silver tray a good polishing – twice – with no end to our tarnishing troubles in sight, we asked (pleaded) for your help. And not surprisingly, you all came through with some pretty sound advice. From sharing your own woes (we obviously had no idea that our little thrifted find would be so obnoxious) to offering up cleaning solutions, you took us from this (on the left) to this (on the right):

And after Rae suggested a buff and poly coat, we thought, why not? Our tray was destined to a life of prettifying my perfumes and rotating jewelry – not for displaying food or any other consumables. So, we took her tip, and I kicked it off by starting with Melissa’s natural cleaning solution: baking soda + hot water.

What I used: aluminum foil, baking soda, salt, boiling water and Polycrylic (to prevent oxidation). I needed tongs to retrieve our silver tray from the hot water, and I used a cookie sheet as our container, because sadly, none of our casserole pans were wide enough to contain the tray.

What I did: I lined the cookie sheet with the foil and placed the tray on top. After dusting a generous amount of baking soda all over the tray, I sprinkled salt over the top and carefully poured hot water over everything. It instantly smelled sour (like rotten eggs, blech!), and I could hear it fizzling. Once the fizzle died down, I used tongs to flip my tray over and added more baking soda, more salt and more boiling water. Tip: our cookie tray was far from ideal, as the idea is to submerge your silver entirely in water. See this easy tutorial for more info.

After flipping the tray a few times, the baking soda no longer fizzled, so I assumed it was done. Using the tongs, I pulled out the tray, but a cool water rinse showed that there was still stubborn tarnish lining the inside! I will say, however, that the above solution worked like a champion everywhere else – I’m positive it was the lack of proper containment that caused the inner tarnish ring to stick.

Scott’s aunt swears by Hagerty Silversmith wipes, so I finished up the job by using a lot of these wipes to buff out the rest. (She actually gifted them to us for Christmas after reading our initial dilemma!) After quite a bit of sweat, it did help to get that tray silver – but I had to put some muscle into it. (On a side note, I realize we could have used these wipes for the whole tray, but after the amount of oomph that had to go into using the Hagerty wipes, I’m sold on the soda, salt, foil + water solution. Especially for those intricate details along the tray’s rim.)

Finally, I dusted one light coat of Polycrylic on each side of the tray to prevent future oxidation, being sure to cover the tray entirely.

Because we wanted to make sure our efforts were well worth it, we let that tray hang out on our dresser for a full 3 weeks before coming back with this progress report. And after all this time, that tray looks just as silver as the day we cleaned it – poly, success!

And just for fun, I picked up this soap pump at Target for my lotion. I figured our success could be matched with a little something pretty to show it off, right?

Pre-discovering your helpful pointers, that tray was yellowing the day after a good cleaning, and it was driving us mad. Like, it just flat out looked gold, and we were considering fooling ourselves into thinking that was okay. And that’s just ridiculous; silver – of all things! – shouldn’t make you mad, silly.

At the same time, I don’t think we’ll be picking up (thrifted or not!) more silver anytime soon. Lesson learned.

PS… Thank you so much to all of your re-pins and likes on our Print Shop Pinterest board! Your help is amazing, and it’s really making it clear what you want to see. To keep “voting,” see Monday’s post for all the details!

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