Pretreated silver polishing cloths bring shine back to your silver because of the tarnish-cleaning compounds that are woven into them. These compounds are sometimes referred to as jeweler's rouge, so you may hear the cloth called a jeweler's rouge cloth. Since minute polishing particles are woven into the fabric, do not launder a pretreated silver polishing cloth. Washing it may damage the compounds and affect its ability to clean silver.
When you want to launder your silver polishing cloth, check its label or packaging first for recommendations. Most silver polishing cloth manufacturers agree that cloths are usable without washing for a long time after they first appear to be dirty.
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The dirt you see on a pretreated polishing cloth is just the tarnish that has been wiped away from your silver. Tarnish on the cloth can appear yellow, brown or -- in severe cases -- black. Even with the tarnish smudges, your silver polishing cloth is still an effective cleaner. With average household use, a silver polishing cloth lasts about two years without any need for laundering. You'll know when it's time for a new silver polishing cloth when the one you have starts to pill, or develop little fabric balls like sweaters do.
Pretreated Cloth Care
Fold your cloth into quarters and use a small section at a time to polish silver. Once an area becomes dark gray or black, fold the cloth again and clean with a fresh section of the cloth. Store silver polishing cloths in their original packaging or in a resealable plastic bag.
Washable Polishing Cloth
Cloths that have not been pretreated with jeweler's rouge can be washed, but these cloths must be used in conjunction with a silver polish liquid or paste. Cloths that are 100 percent cotton, such as soft cotton flannel pieces or a cloth baby diaper, are good choices if you are not buying a pretreated silver polishing cloth. For best results, wash these cloths separately to avoid exposing other laundry to the polishing chemicals.
You can also clean silver with a variety of household ingredients that you may already have in your cupboards without having to use chemical compounds. For best results, wash silver in warm, soapy water first before polishing.