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Ask Martha: Protective Cloth for Silver

Q: What is the name of the cloth you use to cover your silverware to protect it from tarnishing?
-- Kristen Anderson,
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Martha uses kenized cloth, which is 100 percent cotton flannel that has been treated with zinc, to protect her silver from tarnishing. Zinc acetate converts to zinc carbonate during the process of treating the fabric, and it is this harmless chemical that discourages tarnish from forming. The cloth forms a barrier over the silver, keeping away sulpher, salt, or other caustic elements in the air.

You can line the drawers of your silver chest with the cloth, place the silver on top, then cover it with another piece of cloth. If you prefer, you can make individual bags or pouches for special pieces. Kenized cloth will stay effective for about twenty years, but if it gets dirty, it should be replaced sooner, as it should never be washed or even get wet.

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