Today we have a guest post from Rahel Jaskow, a home improvement journalist for Networx.com who will share some great ideas for homemade copper and silver polishes. Welcome Rahel!
First, I’d like to thank Bev for giving me the opportunity to post on her terrific website. My name is Rahel Jaskow. I’m a DIY journalist at Networx.com, and I’m a fan of all things frugal, homemade, and made from scratch. I’ve been making my own homemade laundry soap for years, and it was Bev’s posts about homemade laundry soap that drew me to her site like a magnet.
Many of us are trying to live more frugal lifestyles, and with good reason. Our wallets are feeling the pinch during these challenging economic times. And keeping things as simple and natural as possible is good for ourselves, our families, our homes and our planet.
Of course, being frugal doesn’t mean being deprived. We can live frugally and still enjoy having beautiful things around us. We smile every time we see those pieces of Grandma’s silver in the special cabinet that we built ourselves or perhaps had a local carpenter build for us. The same for those gorgeous copper pots that we picked up for a song at a garage sale some years back. But what about frugal and natural ways to keep those beautiful objects gleaming?
As we know, many commercial cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to us and the environment. Fortunately, there are effective natural alternatives. In this post, I’m going to share recipes for natural, low-cost copper polish and homemade silver cleaner.
Cleaning Copper Naturally
When a dear friend of mine decided to downsize a while back, she gave me some beautiful copper-bottom pots. I have always loved copper-bottom pots, and I even enjoy polishing them. But this time, I decided to do things differently. I wouldn’t be buying any harsh, smelly chemicals in order to do the job. This time, I would find out how to do it naturally and at low cost.
During my search for homemade copper cleaner recipes, I saw that all of them had similar characteristics: a weak acid such as lemon juice or vinegar and a mild scrub such as salt, flour or cornmeal, used by themselves or together.
I found a recipe that combined equal parts of salt and flour and as much lemon juice as necessary to make a paste. Then I dipped a cloth into the mixture and started rubbing gently… and was delighted to see that the color and sheen of the copper showed through almost immediately. No foul odor, no harsh chemicals – and best of all, I had all the ingredients I needed right there at home! (OK, maybe I had to buy an extra lemon.) But baking soda and salt? Dirt cheap – and the beautiful, clean, shiny copper was right there in front of me to prove how effective it was.
I’ve seen suggestions to clean copper with things like ketchup, tomato sauce or tomato juice. I don’t recommend it. Tomato creates tough stains – and why should we make more work for ourselves? Also, to me it seems like wasting food. I’d rather enjoy the ketchup with my meal and stick to simpler ingredients that are much less expensive, aren’t actual food items and don’t stain.
My Favorite Silver Polish
A few years ago, I came across a recipe for silver polish that intrigued me. It’s simple, easy to use and requires ingredients that are probably in your kitchen right now. But be warned: it’s not for every silver piece, such as intricate pieces with patinas or jewelry with amber. For those items, I’d invest in a jeweler’s cloth, which is inexpensive, reusable and takes up hardly any space. I’ve had my jeweler’s cloth for more than twenty years and it’s still going strong.
When I want to clean a silver piece (actually, I clean several at once), I put a square of aluminum foil, shiny side up, on the bottom of a bowl or baking pan that holds enough water to cover the piece. I put one tablespoon each of baking soda and salt on top of the foil. Then I boil water, pour it into the pan, put the item into the water (carefully!) and leave it there until it cools. Then I remove the item, wash and rinse it, and buff it dry with a soft cloth. It comes out gorgeous! In order for this recipe to work, the water must cover the entire silver item, and at least part of the item must be in contact with the aluminum foil at all times.
And that’s how to clean copper and silver naturally, easily and frugally!