Because Grandma's flatware should always be clean and sparkly.


Had you ever thought to use your good silverware every day? Neither had I. That is until my grandma offered for me to use her silverware when I was getting ready to move into my first apartment. As a hostess with the mostest, she had a set of silver-plated flatware to spare, and I was not about to turn down such an offer.

She assured me that it was perfectly safe to run her flatware in the dishwasher with the rest of my dishes. Admittedly, I was hesitant to use it at first. Silver was, in my mind, one of the things that you only pulled out for special occasions.

Old pieces of silver cutlery
Credit: Getty Images

Innumerable dishwasher horror stories ran through my head, but I followed my grandma's advice. Grandmothers know best, of course.  

Sure enough, her silver-plated flatware has survived the dishwasher with barely any tarnishing. I'm just now noticing a bit of yellowing, and that's after several months of regular use.

Turns out the fear of regularly using our good silverware was a precautionary measure, but still a perfectly valid one. I did a bit of research to be sure I was caring for the silver plate in the best way possible. Although Replacements, Ltd. does recommend hand washing silver, my dishwasher method hasn't fooled me yet. There are just a few caveats to automatic dishwashing to protect the finish on the flatware.

First, you should use a dishwasher detergent that's acid-free. Acids like citric acid can wear down silver plate since it is a thin coating of silver over another metal. 

Be sure that stainless steel utensils are not in the same load as silver plate flatware when washing in the dishwasher. If they're in the dishwashing cycle together, they can have a chemical reaction, which could leave stains and rust marks on both sets.

Also, if you're not planning on running the dishwasher immediately, be sure to give the flatware a good rinse as prolonged exposure to salty, fatty, or sulfide-rich food (like eggs, mayonnaise, and seafood, among others) can damage the finish.

It's important to note that this method for silver plate washing is not best for your sterling silver and hollow-handled pieces, which should never be placed in the dishwasher, according to Replacements, Ltd. Silver Tableware Care page.

When you need to polish your silver plate, a polishing cloth should do the trick after a few good swipes, according to my grandmother. If you have extensive tarnishing, a silver polish is the best option.  

Although it's higher maintenance than stainless steel flatware, I've found it quite fun to use "fancy" flatware every day. Plus, according to Replacements, Ltd. using silver everyday has its benefits: "Silver's finish actually improves with daily use, what better reason to use it regularly."