When I was looking for something else on a shelf in the basement, I found a coffee can full of cutlery. I have no idea when or how they got there, but upon closer review, I discovered all the pieces were silver! They were completely black with tarnish, but I knew that could be fixed. Today I brought a handful of knives upstairs, researched ways to easily clean tarnished silver, then did the actual job.
The picture on the left is the knives when I started. Some of them had beautiful details on the handles that were obscured by the heavy layer of tarnish. I knew I could take an entire afternoon sitting at the kitchen table using elbow grease, a bottle of silver polish, and rags to shine them, but I was looking for a lazy way to do it. I found a How To Clean Anything book on my bookshelf. It had several ideas, but I decided to try the "aluminum foil, baking soda, and salt" method. According to the book, a chemical reaction between the baking soda and foil would remove the tarnish from the silver.
Cover the bottom of a pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, add enough water to cover the knives (about 3 inches), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil, add the silver, and boil it for three minutes.When the time was up, I removed the knives one at time and buffed them with a soft cloth. A LOT of the tarnish came off, but not enough. I used baking soda and water to rub off the rest of the tarnish. It must have been loosened by the first process, because it came off quite easily. Here's a picture of my shiny knives right before I put them away in the chest in the dining room. Since I usually polish all the silverware before I use it, I'll remove the last of the offending tarnish then.