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  • How to Clean Jewelry: 6 Jewelry Cleaning Tips

    September 28, 2021 7 min read

    cleaning jewelry with toothbrush

    Clean jewelry is a sign that each necklace, pair of earrings, or ring you own is special to you, but knowing how to clean your gold ring versus your silver necklace isn’t always obvious. The more a piece of jewelry is loved and worn, the quicker it loses its shine. Residue from daily beauty products or elements in the atmosphere make your gemstones cloudy, dirty, and lackluster. The good news is, dirty jewelry isn’t damaged. You can use common household items to make a DIY jewelry cleaner that’s just as effective as a professional cleaning. We’ll share six of the best ways to clean your jewelry so it can reclaim its sparkle. 

    The best way to clean jewelry

    Although it sounds all too easy, soap and water are the most versatile and effective jewelry cleaner combo. This method of jewelry cleaning works for all types of jewelry and metals--from diamond earrings to a gold necklace. The simpler the concoction, the safer your jewelry. No matter what piece of jewelry you’re cleaning, we recommend that you try soap and water before resorting to chemicals or more abrasive materials. 

    1. Clean jewelry with soap and water. 

    Dawn dish soap is safe and effective at cleaning jewelry. Just add a few drops to a warm basin of water and let your jewelry soak for 15-30 minutes. Then remove it from the basin and gently brush with a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush to get grime out of the grooves. Finally, rinse and dry. 

    2. Use jewelry cleaner.

    A jewelry cleaner is another simple and trusted method. You have many options when purchasing cleaner or making it yourself:

    1. Jewelry cleaner liquid is a gentle cleaner that removes residue and restores shine to gold, platinum, and gemstones. 
    2. Silver polish removes tarnish from silver jewelry and protects against future tarnishing by adding an anti-tarnishing shield. 
    3. An ultrasonic cleaner is great for cleaning jewelry in bulk. Its ultrasonic vibrations generate bubbles that remove debris and other particles from jewelry. However, this cleaner is not a good option for softer gems, antique jewelry, or frequent cleaning. When used excessively, it can damage your jewelry. 
    4. Homemade jewelry cleaner can be a cost and time-saver. Many cleaners are simple to make and use. Some of our favorites are listed in the tips below. 

    Other jewelry cleaning tools

    In addition to a jewelry cleaner, whether store-bought or homemade, a few other materials will help you in the cleaning process. 

    • Jewelry polishing cloth to buff and shine your jewelry at the end of every cleaning
    • A bowl or shallow basin to soak jewelry in 
    • Soft towels to dry jewelry on 
    • Soft, unused toothbrush with no toothpaste residue that could scratch the jewelry

    Sterling silver hoop earrings

    How to clean silver jewelry

    Solid silver jewelry is too soft to wear, so most is an alloy, or silver mixed with a small percentage of other metals for strength. This silver alloy is called sterling silver. The other materials mixed in are what cause the silver to tarnish. Most silver rings, earrings, and necklaces are made from sterling silver. You have several options for removing tarnishing in addition to silver polish.

    3. Clean silver jewelry with Coke or a carbonated beverage.

    You can clean silver jewelry with a Coke, seltzer water, or another carbonated drink. The bubbles from the carbonation adhere to unwanted particles and remove them. Let your jewelry soak in a bowl of carbonated liquid for about ten minutes. Then, remove the jewelry, brush it with the toothbrush, rinse it, and lay it out to dry. 

    Can you clean silver jewelry with toothpaste? 

    Yes, cleaning silver jewelry with toothpaste is another option, but the toothpaste must be white not colored, a paste not gel, and without any whitening agents. First, put a dab of toothpaste on a cloth and wipe your jewelry. Rub your jewelry with the cloth, and then rinse and buff the items.

    Can you clean silver jewelry with baking soda? 

    You can use baking soda on silver, but use it gently since it is abrasive. Line a container with aluminum foil and lay down the jewelry. Pour boiling water over the jewelry, then add a couple tablespoons of baking soda. Let it soak until you see tarnish vanishing.

    9 Tab Gold Necklace 

    How to clean gold jewelry

    It’s best not to use the same cleaning method for gold rings, earrings, and necklaces as you would for silver jewelry. Gold is soft and cannot tolerate abrasives or harsh chemicals, including toothpaste, baking soda, ammonia, or Windex. The lower the carat of gold, the more metals are mixed with it and the more it can withstand a little harsher cleaning. 

    4. Clean gold jewelry with beer.

    The acidic hops in beer make a great grime-cleaner for gold jewelry. But be sure to use a light brew so the beer doesn’t stain. Simply dab a cloth in the beer and rub it onto the jewelry. Then, rinse and dry. 

    Cleaning gold jewelry with water

    Cleaning gold jewelry doesn’t require much--boiling water alone will do the job. Place your jewelry into a bowl of boiling water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Then remove leftover grime by brushing it with a soft toothbrush. 

    How to clean white gold jewelry

    Genuine white gold jewelry can be cleaned the same way as gold jewelry. Nickel is added to gold as a bleaching agent to make it white. However, most jewelry marketed as “white gold” is actually sterling silver plated in rhodium. Rhodium jewelry does not need cleaning--it needs replating by a jeweler once a year. Frequent cleaning will actually wear the rhodium-plating down. It’s important to know specifically what kind of metal your jewelry is made of before applying cleaning products. 

    How to clean metal jewelry 

    Metal jewelry including copper and brass is not fine jewelry and can withstand more acidic cleaners, but very harsh chemicals can break down metals. So for metal jewelry it’s best to use natural cleaners. 

    5. Clean metal jewelry with a lemon and salt scrub. 

    You can either cut a lemon in half, salt one of the halves, and rub it on to your jewelry, or apply the lemon juice and salt directly onto the jewelry. Afterward, rub the jewelry with a soft cloth.

    Diamond and sapphire ring 

    How to clean rings with stones 

    Rings with stones have an additional element to consider when choosing the best way to clean them. You must consider taking care of both the band and the gemstone. An ultrasonic cleaner works well for hard gems like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, but soft gems are too delicate for the ultrasonic cleaner. Because soft gems are porous and fragile, they also should not be cleaned with ammonia, abrasives, or boiling water. Cleaning with shampoo and a soft brush is best for softer gemstones. 

    6. Clean a diamond ring with Windex. 

    If you want to restore the sparkle to your diamond ring, a little Windex and hydrogen peroxide will do the trick. Windex is safe to use on silver, gold, and platinum bands but is not safe for copper. Combine the Windex and hydrogen peroxide in a 50/50 mixture and soak the ring for about 10 minutes. Then, brush with a soft toothbrush, rinse, and dry. This method removes bacteria from hard gemstones, but it can damage soft gems. So if your ring is not a diamond, ruby, or sapphire, check the gem’s hardness before exposing it to these chemicals. 

    Can you clean your diamond jewelry with ammonia? 

    You can use ammonia for a deeper clean, but not regularly. Cleaning jewelry with ammonia frequently will damage the gold, silver, or other material of the setting. It’s fine to use on occasion but never okay to use with platinum or soft gemstones. If you decide your jewelry needs a deep clean, mix ½ tsp of ammonia with 1 cup of water and soak the jewelry for a minute or less. Don’t let your jewelry soak longer than a minute. Once you remove the items, be sure to rinse them well. 

    Jewelry care tips 

    • Place jewelry in a strainer while soaking when you are cleaning small items. This makes your work easier when it’s time for the jewelry to dry. 
    • Have a jeweler inspect your gemstone jewelry once or twice a year to ensure the setting or material is not damaged. 
    • If you are unsure about your gemstone’s hardness, check with your jeweler before using a cleaning method that could damage a soft stone.  
    • Wear your gold and silver jewelry often to prevent it from tarnishing.  
    • When you’re not wearing your jewelry, put it in a jewelry storage case to prevent scratches and tarnishing. 
    • Don’t leave jewelry on when swimming, sweating, showering, cleaning, or cooking. All involve chemicals or activity that will harm your fine jewelry. 
    • Put your jewelry on after doing your makeup and hair to avoid smearing or spraying your jewelry with a harmful substance.  
    • Keep a lint-free diamond cloth handy to keep your diamonds looking shiny. 

    Tips for cleaning different types of jewelry

    • Cleaning earrings: Earrings can be small and easy to lose, so when cleaning them, keep them in a strainer that is then submerged in the cleaning liquid. 
    • Cleaning necklaces: Necklace chains are often difficult to clean because of all their tiny grooves. Using a soft toothbrush will help remove small dirt particles within the chain links. 
    • Cleaning rings: Rings usually have two (or more) main parts, the metal band and the gemstone. Make sure whatever cleaning method you choose is suitable for the metal material and the stone. Or, be sure to clean one part separately from the other. 

    How often should you clean your jewelry? 

    Every fine jewelry owner should clean their jewelry lightly once a week and clean it deeply twice a month. Depending on how often you wear your jewelry, we also recommend that you get it professionally cleaned once or twice a year. With a busy schedule, it may be difficult to remember routine cleanings. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, consider purchasing rhodium jewelry. It requires replating once a year (or less often if you don’t wear it daily), but you don’t need to clean rhodium to retain its shine. Rhodium is nickel and corrosion-free, so you don’t have to worry about it changing colors. Choose from our unique rhodium jewelry or read our rhodium FAQ to learn more. 

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