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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989

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Cleaning & polishing gold plated flatware

Quickstart:

- This thread discusses how-tos, and successes & failures in Cleaning & Polishing Real Gold Plated Flatware; the most important note is that, with rare exception, it's not dishwasher safe!
- Thread 6773 covers all other Q&As about gold plated flatware.
- "Dirilyte", "Dirigold", & "Thai bronze" flatware are bronze-ish or gold-ish in color but are very different from gold. Please search the site for discussions about them.



Q. I have been given gold plated flatware and has not been opened from the serving box in about 20 years.
Is there something I can use to polish it?

KITTY COLLUM
- Ocala, Florida
July 8, 2024


A. Hi Kitty,
The gold plating on the great majority of gold plated flatware is quite thin. So, rather than heavy use of metal polish, I'd suggest the aluminum foil and washing soda routine ...

Line the bottom of a non-metallic sink or dishpan with aluminum foil. Add a solution of hot washing soda [on eBay or Amazon affil links] or Spic and Span [on eBay or Amazon] , and place your gold plated silverware on the aluminum foil for just a couple of minutes.

This doesn't remove plating, but does convert metal oxides & sulfides back to metal (it's most often used on silver, because silver tarnishes).

Then wipe with a silverware cloth [on eBay or Amazon affil links] . And only if this doesn't work well enough, then polish with any metal polish like Maas [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , Wenol [adv: Wenol on eBay or Amazon affil links] , Flitz [adv: Flitz on eBay or Amazon affil links] , or whichever one you have on hand.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩



Q. Hello: I purchased a set of flatware that was stated "gold plated." I really did not believe it was gold plated but the pieces were entirely a gold color and I loved the look. However, after just one washing in the dishwasher they appear to be pitted in some cases and just marred in others. I can not seem to get the spots off the flatware that was put in the dishwasher. I like the flatware and want to know did I do something wrong. Will the flatware never look right again? I don't know if putting them in a dishwasher was a mistake. I also wonder what they are really plated with to give that gold color. Thanks for any suggestion. Diane.

Diane M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Tustin, California, USA
2000


A. I have been looking for gold plated flatware. As I survey the various brands, one precaution stands out: DO NOT wash in a dishwasher with a "lemon" dish soap. Perhaps that is what the problem is. I believe the lemon ingredient must mar the flatware.

Jean A
- Chico, California USA


A. I believe the gold flatware should not be washed in the dishwasher at all. It will definitely pit if it comes in contact with stainless while washing in the dishwasher. I have cared for my flatware under this assumption and it has held up well.

Joan H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Kirtland, Ohio
2001


A. Hi Diane. With gold costing more than $1000 an ounce, your skepticism about gold plating is understandable. However, the explanation is that gold plating can be almost unimaginably thin, a few millionths of an inch -- in which case one trip through the dishwasher can spoil it. Sorry :-(

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Seeking a shop to restore fading gold-plated flatware

RFQ: Hi, I purchased some discontinued gold plated flatware from a pottery outlet and had no instruction for how to care for it. I obviously washed everything wrong because most of the coloring has faded off of my flatware.

Does anyone know if there's a place I can send or take it to have the color restored.

These pieces were so beautiful when I bought them, and deserve to be restored to their original beauty. Thanks for any help available!

G. Decatur
- Richmond, Virginia, United States
2000

Ed. note: Sorry, this RFQ is old & outdated, so contact info is no longer available. However, if you feel that something technical should be said in reply, please post it; no public commercial suggestions please ( huh? why?)



? Can you give me a little more guidance as to exactly how you "washed" the flatware? And, any idea what the base metal is? The more clues you can give, the closer a guess might be:)

I've seen sterling items which were very lightly gold plated take on a very lovely tarnish at times - I wonder if that's what you were looking at?

Nick Boltuch
Rostand Mfg Co - Pennsylvania


A. Hi G. The gold plating on affordable stainless steel flatware is very very thin and quite soft and often does does not survive even a single trip through the dishwasher. Sorry.

It can certainly be replated, but plating is labor intensive and gold is very expensive, so you may find that the cost of replating is more than what you paid for the flatware. Sorry.

It is possible to gold plate sterling silver, of course, but I think the overwhelming majority of such flatware is stainless steel rather than sterling silver.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. I have just bought a set of "gold" flatware at an auction and it needs polishing. It looks tarnished just like regular silverware. I have tried cleaning it with silverware polish but it does not clean it up - is there anything on the market for this type of flatware - or perhaps a brass polish? I don't want to ruin it by trying too many products. I would appreciate an answer from anyone who has polished with good results.

Thank you.

Victoria S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Calgary, AB, Canada
2001


Silver & Gold Polishing Cloth
silver_polish_cloth2
on eBay or

Amazon

(affil links)

A. Hi Victoria. When you put "gold" in quotes because you don't know what it actually is, unfortunately neither does anyone else -- it could be Dirilyte or similar bronzeware (which many people love, but will never become gold colored), it could be a titanium nitride PVD finish as often used on gold colored plumbing fixtures (inexpensive, usually durable enough for a dishwasher), or it could be a thin and fragile plating of real gold. It could be on a sterling silver, nickel-silver, stainless steel base or even a brass base. Apologies, but it's just impossible to guess.

I'd probably try the aluminum foil and washing soda approach used to remove tarnish from silver -- it won't hurt gold plating -- and follow that with light wiping with a gold polishing cloth. If it does nothing, the finish is probably not real gold plating or is too worn to restore without replating.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




sidebar

Ed. note: Many duplicative threads were started over the years, asking questions already answered on other threads, so we've now combined them all :-)

Gentle Readers:

This meeting place welcomes Q&As, photos, history, & interesting tidbits -- but it's not a consultancy.

Please engage with others

• When people show interest in each other's situations, the forum is informative & fun !

• When people just introduce their own issues, displaying no interest in others' postings, it can quickly become a string of unanswered questions smiley

Q. I also have recently purchased gold-plated flatware, and it also has developed some marring in the finish here and there. I knew not to use any citrus-y dish soaps, and have used only good old-fashioned Ivory. Sure would like to know how to get those little dark stains off the finish.

Thanks!

Patrick Cremeens
- San Diego, California, USA
2002


Q. I was just given a set of gold plated flatware and I was wondering how to clean it if it is ever used for eating purposes. I do not have a dishwasher, but I would like some advice of what dish soap to use or whatever works. I would greatly appreciate if someone could give me advice on this.

Thank You,

Charity G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Bethany, Oklahoma
2002


Q. I have a set of gold plated flatware by International, made in China. A couple of the pieces seems to have some tarnish & some spots, how can I safely remove this? Also, what is the proper way to clean after each use & store. This set came with a velvet lined flatware chest. This is a service for 12!

Thank You,

ELAINE DAVIDSON
N/A - GRASS VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, USA
2004


Q. Please advise how I can properly clean a set of gold plated flatware.

Thank You in advance,

Daniel W.Block
hobbyist - Gainesville, Florida
2005


Q. What was the answer to the cleaning gold plated flatware question?

William M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Fairborn, Ohio
2005


Ed. note: When people say that there have been no answers, that might have been true of the thread they were viewing at the time, but please read the suggestions nearer the top of this page.



thumbs down signI bought a beautiful 120 piece set of Gold plated flatware too, from QVC. But after using it once, last Thanksgiving, and washing is gently by hand, it got blackish tarnish marks on every piece. Needless to say, I called QVC but they didn't know why this happened -- so graciously took it back. Since then, I have talked to five other people that had the same experience. I won't purchase another set even though my dishes have a gold accent around them. Oh well.

Laura Etten
- North Tonawanda, New York
2005


thumbs up sign Thanks, Laura. Gold trim on your dishes won't last forever in a dishwasher either, but at least it's covered with ceramic glazing so it will last far longer than the thin bare gold plating on the flatware.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. How can I polish tarnished gold plated flatware? I have just purchased a set of tarnished gold plated flatware. How can I polish it? How can I keep them from getting tarnished? Do some foods tarnish the pieces more than other foods?

Donna Hanley
student - Bethel, Alaska
2005


Silver Anti-tarnish Strips
silver_tarnish_strips
on eBay or

Amazon

(affil links)

A. Hi Donna, I would expect the same storage bags and storage strips that are used for silver would work for gold plated flatware by keeping corrosives out of the atmosphere. For removing the tarnish, see if the aluminum foil plus washing soda trick discussed in topic 4785 helps you. The advantage of this over polishing cloths is that it doesn't remove any of the gold. So maybe do the aluminum foil first, then lightly rub with a gold polishing cloth?

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. My Husband put my Gold plated silverware in the dish washer. When they came out they were very discolored. I'm afraid they I will never be able to get them back to their shiny gold color. What do I do?

Ivonne Mayberry
Housewife - Westerville, Ohio
2006


Q. I noticed that there wasn't any answers to the questions for cleaning gold plated silverware. Please let me know the best cleaner to use. I have Wenol [adv: Wenol on eBay or Amazon affil links] metal cleaner. I cleaned a fork and I guess I rubbed a little too much and on the back started wearing away the gold. Thank you,

Joy Chandler
hobbyist - Staten Island, New York
2006


A. As a daughter of an owner of a large set of gold plated flatware: it is to be washed by hand with mild dish soap. We use Ivory or Dawn to wash.

A. Allure
- Atlanta, Georgia


A. In response to cleaning gold plated flatware, I have had the same problem finding an answer. Everybody I know who owns a set puts it in the dishwasher and it is fine or hand washes it. The most important thing is to dry it due to spotting. They also said it was easier to maintain than silverware. Don't quote me this is just from other friend's experience.

Susie Mack
- Kent, England




Q. Cleaning the gold flatware with water and a little vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon affil links] will damage the flatware?

Erika Fernandez
- Houston, Texas, USA
2006


A. I hope this helps someone. Gold plated flatware should NEVER be put in a dishwasher. If it's true gold plating over silver plate or sterling the best way to clean it is to wash it by hand using warm water and mild soap and then, if it isn't shiny enough, take a small amount of baking soda [in bulk on eBay or Amazon affil links] on a damp and very soft cloth or sponge and gently rub the flatware. This will brighten the gold without undo wear. The key is gentle. Even with baking soda if you rub too hard you can scratch the gold surface.

K.P. O'Neil
- Santa Monica, California




Stains on gold plated flatware after automatic dishwashing

Q. I am looking for answers about cleaning spots off of gold plated flatware. Mom always told me to hand wash it, dry it immediately and keep each piece separate while being stored. I deviated this Christmas and put it in the dishwasher. I just assumed that it was not clean and ran it through a second time. I tried hand washing and using one of those soft "scrubby" pads, but the white looking spots won't come off. Mom told me I could try her favorite silver polish brand - Hagerty silversmiths' polish, but it didn't make any difference. I'm going to try to get answers from the Towle company that made it.

Paula T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.A.
December 30, 2008


A. Hi Paula. Sad to say, gold plating on most flatware is not only soft, it's very very thin -- maybe 30 millionths of an inch at best. Think about that number: it means light gauge aluminum foil is about 20 times thicker. Twice through the dishwasher plus a scrubby pad and metal polish, there is probably no gold left in the whitish spots, so you're seeing the underlying stainless. Sorry to have to tell you.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. Has anyone tried Tarn-x tarnish remover [on eBay or Amazon affil links] ? Does anyone know if Tarn-x would damage it?

Shawn Roberts
- milwaukee, wisconsin
October 17, 2015


A. Don't!
Tarn-X can be really aggressive stuff for tough jobs, but inappropriate for gold plating.
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. I have a set of Oneida silverware that has just a touch of gold on the base of each piece. It is about to become my every day silverware. What will happen if I put it through the dishwasher?

Karen Piveral
- Arlington, Texas Usa
June 16, 2017


A. Hi Karen. The gold will probably wear off in very short order. Don't.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. I have purchased a set of gold plated flatware and the plating seems to be okay but there is some type of sticky residue on the metal. Hot water and dish soap have not helped. Can you give me an idea what else I might use that would not harm the plating?

Beth

Beth Marks
Retired - Tipton, Indiana
November 26, 2017


A. Hi Beth. If you purchased the flatware new, surely the manufacturer can tell you what is going on. If you bought it used, and the seller can't/won't/isn't available to tell you anything, then it's a big world, and hard to guess why the flatware has a sticky residue or what it might be, or even whether the coating is an essential part of the finish. Is it possible that it's actually Dirilyte or similar bronzeware? Dirilyte came with a BP ("bonded protectant") lacquer coating which most people eventually try to remove.

If it is in fact a deteriorating lacquer coating, or residue from a previous owner's poor attempt at epoxy or polyurethane coating, I'd probably start by trying to clean it with rubbing alcohol, then I'd try acetone [on eBay or Amazon affil links] . If they didn't work, I'd probably try Aircraft Stripper; none of these are acids or alkalies, nor abrasives, so none should hurt gold plating or any other metals.

Be aware that acetone is highly flammable, and that aircraft stripper is truly noxious stuff requiring goggles [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , chemical gloves [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , and outstanding ventilation (outdoors).

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


thumbs up sign  I have had Goldware for years. I ALWAYS hand wash it in Dawn and immediately dry with a soft cloth then set out to air for maybe an hour. I had a beautiful silverware chest but just sold it. I always stored my Goldware in the closed chest. My Gold coffee and tea set is spotting and dull so I will attempt to clean with a mild solution of baking soda. I would never use acetone to clean a sticky spot. Try Goo Gone [on eBay or Amazon affil links] which dissolves most any sticky residue then wash immediately with mild soap and water. Mine is 25 yrs old and looks like new. Never put in the dishwasher. I am also religious about keeping every other piece at least in the original plastic wrap to keep it from scratching. If they rest on each other they are more likely to scratch if not kept protected. Take a little extra care and it will be beautiful for years.

CANDI VETAL
- TARPON SPRINGS, Florida U.S.
January 27, 2018


A. I agree with Candi, NEVER use chemicals on your silver or gold utensils. If it's something sticky, I'd try rubbing a little butter on it with your finger. That should loosen it up and you can wipe it off with a paper towel. Do that a couple of times until you get it off of there and then wash it with warm soapy Dawn, rinse and dry.

Mrs Lisa Oliver
collector - Central Coast California
September 18, 2019


A. Thanks Candi! Thanks Lisa! ... although I personally believe that rubbing alcohol, acetone, and aircraft stripper will have no effect on gold or other metals, but only on organic stuff like lacquer coatings and adhesives.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Are you missing a piece or two?

Oneida Golden Duet Flatware
flatware_oneida_golden_duet
on eBay

(affil links)

I opened up the set this past Thanksgiving and found that a few of the pieces had a darkened color to them. How do I get this off? And tell me how to care for my beautiful flatware? Thank you!

Jan Swallows
Retired RN - Ringgold, Georgia, USA
February 25, 2018


Silver Polishing Cloth

on eBay or

Amazon

(affil links)

A. Hi Jan. Silver polish or a silver cleaning cloth should work. I would expect the aluminum foil plus washing soda trick discussed in topic 4785 to work as well, and without causing wear like polishing does.

But you should probably store it in a storage box in silver storage bags or with anti-tarnish strips. They probably work similarly, but the bags would presumably lessen scratches.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Q. Hi Everyone,
I bought gold plated flatware. The site I bought it on says it's dishwasher safe which was very important to me since this is intended to be our everyday flatware. But then I got the instructions for care and was blown away. I wasn't sure if this was generic for the brand and their 'fancier' silverware and haven't received a response from them when I asked.
How do I care for everyday flatware that is gold plated.
Thank you,
Lauren

Lauren Cohen
-NYC, New York
May 4, 2018


A. Hi Lauren. You have to demand an answer from the supplier; they have dozens of different flatware lines and nobody but them knows what they sold you in order to give you care instructions.

As already mentioned on this page, if they were actually gold plated, you certainly should not put them in a dishwasher!

However, if they were advertised by the manufacturer as 'dishwasher safe', I suspect that there is actually no gold on your flatware, that what you actually have is stainless steel flatware with a "gold tone" PVD finish (titanium nitride). I think it's entirely possible that such a finish can resist dishwasher cleaning. If you go to a hardware store or big box home improvement store you will see gold colored drill bits -- they are not gold, they are titanium nitride, and a finish that can hold up on a drill bit, will hold up on flatware, at least for a while :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Are you missing a piece or two?

Cosmos Gold Plated Flatware
flatware_cosmos_gold
on eBay

(affil links)

Q. Hi, I recently found my mother's Cosmos brand stainless silverware from Japan. It's gold with a bamboo pattern on the stems. Can I use them for everyday use and can I put them in the dishwasher with today's detergent? I also have spoons and other things that say 24K gp, can I put those in the dishwasher with regular detergent too? Or is there a gentle detergent made for gold silverware? Thanks,

Victoria Wells
victoria wells designs, inc. - Wayland, Massachusetts USA


A. Hi Victoria
I'd fill a dishpan with hot water and mild dish detergent and let it sit for half an hour before cleaning it with a soft sponge. Then I'd rinse in very hot water and pat dry rather than rubbing dry.

But as F. Scott Fitzgerald noted, "The rich are different from you and me" ... ... on the one hand there is the gold plated flatware our readers have been talking about, and on the other hand there is the gold plated flatware offered by places like Gracious Style which is sold as 'dishwasher safe' because the gold plating is so thick that it will take a lot to wear it all away. The soup ladle was $13,345. the serving spoon & fork were $10,670 each. This is vermeil or better, and the plating is probably at least 100X thicker than most people here are talking about; even then, with gold costing over a thousand dollars an ounce, I wouldn't put it in a dishwasher and lose gold with each load :-)

"" -

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Are you missing a piece or two?

Towles
"Newbury Thread"
Flatware

flatware_towles
on eBay

(affil links)

Q. I purchased stainless steel flatware with a gold inlay around the edges -- Towles Newbury Thread. The gold looks like it's turning orange. I wash with Dawn soap in sink. Is there anything I can do to restore the gold inlay? Thank you.

Dee Cara
- Southampton, NJ
September 23, 2023


A. Hi Dee,
Sorry, but I don't think you'll hear good news on this. Gold is extremely chemical resistant; not much can discolor it or color it. If it's orange, the gold plating is probably pretty much worn off.

You can try Goran Budija's 'ammonium citrate' suggestion for turning orange-ish or pink-ish brass back to yellow-ish, as described on thread 35145 but no promises.

Replacements seem to be readily available on eBay and other places however.

Towles Newbury Thread flatware on eBay (affil. link)]

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




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