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How To Clean Jewelry

How To Clean Jewelry

how to clean jewelry

Your jewelry is important to you and you want to keep it looking good. There are so many reasons jewelry can be meaningful, and so, there are just as many reasons to keep it in its best condition. Keeping your jewelry clean also prevents skin irritations and allergies: gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry can cause allergic reactions when the outer layer of gold wears off, exposing an inexpensive base metal that can stain the skin. For more information about how to clean different kinds of jewelry, check out our Complete Guide For How To Clean Jewelry.

There are 3 main rules of cleaning your jewelry:

(1) Know what your jewelry is made of. Sterling Silver? Solid gold? Gold-plated? Knowing the metal exterior and metal core materials of your jewelry item will ensure you get back that sparkle and shine!

(2) Determine if your jewelry needs a professional clean or a DIY home cleaning. Most of your jewelry items can actually be cleaned with simple, household products! However, engagement rings, wedding bands, and antique family heirlooms should more than likely be taken to a professional cleaner.

(3) Know how to properly store your jewelry to prevent further damage and tarnish.

How To Clean Jewelry At Home

Luckily, most jewelry items can be cleaned with everyday products you can find in your home! You don’t always need a fancy jewelry cleaner to get your treasures shining: home remedies for cleaning jewelry can work just as well! A little time + the right ingredients = beautiful bling.

Here are some easy cleaning tips for jewelry items of any base metal:

how to clean jewelry at home

  • Scrub with toothbrush Sometimes all you need is a little friction to scrape off dirt and debris that has accumulated in your jewelry’s indentations. The tiny bristles make it easy to access the hard-to-clean nooks and crannies of your jewelry items. Wet the toothbrush and carefully scrub the jewelry. Rinse with water, wipe clean with a microfiber cloth, and let dry before putting away.
  • Soap and water image

  • Soap + Water The classic mixture of soap and water might be the only thing you need to get your jewels back to sparkling. Both easy and effective, this method is great for stones of porous material (like pearls or opals), gold and platinum jewelry. Combine 2 cups of water and 3 drops of gentle laundry detergent or dish soap. For the pearls and opals, simply let them rest in the soapy water for just a moment before scooping them out, drying them off (make sure they are completely dry!), and then storing them. For the gold, you can use a soft-bristle toothbrush or a cloth to wipe away excess dirt or buildup.

  • Multipurpose Antibacterial Cleaner Pour a few inches of the liquid cleaner into a small, glass bowl. Add jewelry and let sit for 5 minutes. You should be able to see dirt and grime fall from your jewelry item in those 5 minutes. Next, remove jewelry and gently scrub with a soft bristle toothbrush. Rinse under cool water, pat dry with a clean cloth, let dry before putting away.
  • Antacids image

  • Antacids The antacids you take for heartburn can also work to bring back the sparkle to your gems! Fill a glass with warm water, place 2 antacid pills in the water, and wait for it to fizz and bubble. Place jewelry into glass and let sit for a couple of minutes. Remove jewelry, rinse with cool water, dry with a soft cloth, and let dry before storing the jewelry item.
  • Aluminum foil image

  • Aluminum foil + Bleach-free powdered laundry detergent This method utilizes a chemical process known as ion exchange. Line a small bowl with aluminum foil. Fill the bowl with hot water and mix in a tablespoon of bleach-free powdered laundry detergent (not a liquid), like Tide. Place jewelry in solution and let sit for 1 minute. Rinse and air dry before storing.
  • Vinegar image

  • Vinegar Cleaning jewelry with vinegar is a simple and easy way to bring your gems back to life! Soak your jewelry items in a mixture of a ½ cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda for 2 - 3 hours. After the time is up, rinse under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

  • DIY Techniques for Silver or Gold

    baking soda

  • Baking Soda
    • To remove tarnish from silver jewelry, make a thick paste with ¼ cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water. With a damp sponge, gently apply the mixture to your jewelry. Rub, rinse, and buff dry.
    • To polish gold jewelry, cover the jewelry items with a light coating of baking soda, pour vinegar over it, and rinse clean.
    • Note: This method is best suited for silver or gold jewelry. However, do not use this method with gemstones or pearls as it could damage the finish and remove necessary glue.

    boiling water

  • Boiling Water
    • Hot water is a cheap and easy way to wipe away all that dirt and debris from your hard metal jewelry! The steam and heat from the boiling water cause buildup to loosen from the jewelry, making it easy to wipe away.
    • First, boil water. Place your jewelry items in a heat-proof container, then slowly pour the boiling water over the jewelry items until covered. Let jewelry sit for a few minutes, until the water has cooled. Remove jewelry from bowl, wipe away grime with a clean cloth, and let jewelry dry before putting away.
    • Note: This technique is best used for silver, gold, platinum or diamonds. This technique should not be used for pearls, opals or other gemstones.


  • Ammonia
    • To brighten up your gold and silver jewelry, immerse them in a solution of ½ cup clear ammonia and 1 full cup of warm water. Let them soak for approximately 10 minutes. Gently wipe clean with a soft cloth and let dry before storing.
    • Note: Do not use this technique with pearls because it could dull or damage their fragile exterior.
    how to clean silver vs gold

    How To Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry

    Knowing how to clean sterling silver jewelry correctly is important, since this metal is susceptible to tarnishing. Silver jewelry is tricky because you want to clean it, but also prevent tarnish from coming back (as much as possible!). Though there are techniques you can use to clean your sterling silver jewelry, these techniques won’t necessarily prevent tarnish from coming back. So, in addition to the techniques listed above, try the following to know how to clean tarnished jewelry!

    Products to help you clean silver:

  • Anti-tarnish storage bag
  • Jewelry-Cleaning Cloth or a Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
  • Silver Jewelry Cleaner

  • Techniques that prevent tarnish:

    weiman silver polish

  • Weiman Silver Polish: this product is well-known in the jewelry industry as a recommended product to keep tarnish from coming back.
  • Put a small amount of the polish on a clean cloth.
  • Rub polish on jewelry item in an up-and-down motion. Do not rub in a circular motion as this can highlight the fine scratches on your item.
  • Alter the spots you use on the cloth to clean the jewelry, so as not re-deposit tarnish back onto it.
  • Rinse in warm water and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

  • To prevent silver from tarnishing:

    anti tarnish bag

  • Store each item of jewelry in its own anti-tarnish bag
  • Place a piece of chalk in your anti-tarnish bag to remove excess moisture
  • When wearing your jewelry, put it on after you have put on perfume or lotion to prevent it from attaching to your silver
  • Wear it! The friction of actually wearing the silver jewelry helps to prevent tarnish, so the more you wear it, the more it will shine!

  • How To Clean Gold Jewelry

    In addition to the above listed techniques, there are a few other important tips to keep in mind when cleaning gold jewelry. Gold is a very soft metal, so be sure to clean your gold jewelry items with great care. Also, keep in mind that gold-plated jewelry items are even more susceptible to damage due to the thinner layer of gold that is coating the outside layer of the jewelry item.

    Therefore, when cleaning your gold jewelry, determine whether it is solid gold, gold-plated, or gold-filled to know how much care is needed when cleaning your jewelry item. For gold-plated jewelry items, it is recommended to use simple, safe methods.

    For instance:

  • Dilute 2 drops of mild dish soap in warm water
  • Dip gold-plated jewelry into the mixture
  • Remove piece from the soapy water and rinse it with clean, warm water
  • Gently rub the item with a polishing cloth to restore the gold-plated item’s shine

  • how to clean solid gold vs gold plated

    Professional Cleaning

    There are certain items that are best taken to a professional jeweler for a professional clean. While the majority of your jewelry items can be cleaned with regular, household items, there are other items you want to be a little more careful with. These items include:

  • Engagement rings
  • Wedding bands
  • Antique heirlooms

  • These items should be taken to a jeweler every 6 months to 1 year in order to keep them looking their best. Regular check-ups with your jeweler will also serve to identify loose stones or any damage that needs to be addressed.

    engagement rings

    So, what’s the process?

    When you take your jewelry items for a professional cleaning, you can expect:

  • An initial inspection, which could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the jewelry item. This inspection is done to ensure that all of the gemstones are present and secured.
  • Next, the jewelry items are polished and buffed on a high speed wheel. This process removes the exterior scratches and abrasions, restoring your jewelry item to its original smoothness.
  • Depending on the material of the piece, the jewelry item is then subjected to a soak in an ultrasonic bath, or a light brushing with mild, soapy water. The ultrasonic cleaning method uses ultrasound vibrations to agitate a liquid, causing the fluid to vibrate at a high rate. This dislodges any excess debris and particles from the metal and gemstone. Note: It is not required for all gemstones to undergo the chemical cleaning solution and the ultrasonic vibrations. Gems can vary greatly, so it is important to ask your jeweler if your items can be placed in a sonic cleaner or if a jewelry cleaner can be used on them.
  • The final step is a steam cleaning to make your jewelry shine like new! The jewelry item is placed under a powerful jet of stream, which gets rid of any last remnant of grime.

    How To Store Your Jewelry

    Now that your jewelry is sparkling once again, you want to make sure you know how to properly store and care for your jewelry. The way jewelry is stored actually affects the way it looks! By storing in cool, dry places, you can minimize the damage done to your jewelry so that it continues to look great and last longer! Proper jewelry storage is especially important for silver jewelry to keep them from tarnishing.

    Simple tips for proper jewelry storage:

  • Gold is a relatively soft and malleable metal can be scratched or dented easily. To avoid this, keep your gold jewelry items stored separately in soft, dry cloth bags, or in the original box it came in.
  • plastic bag

  • Silver jewelry should be kept absolutely, 100% dry. Silver pieces should be stored in a tarnish-proof cloth, away from exposed air.
  • Don’t let silver items touch rubber (such as a rubber band), because the sulphur within the rubber will cause the silver to tarnish.
  • Store individual pieces of jewelry in closed, plastic bags. Get as much of the air out as possible: with the air removed, the metal won’t be able to oxidize and tarnish.
  • anti tarnish strips

  • Add an anti-tarnish strip to your jewelry’s bag: these absorbent strips will suck out moisture and other culprits that could cause your jewelry to tarnish.
  • Store all jewelry in cool, dry places. The quickest way to tarnish or damage your jewelry is for it to be exposed to moisture and liquids.
  • sunshine cloth

  • When putting your jewelry items away for the night, give them a quick wipedown with a Sunshine cloth or other jewelry cleaning/polishing cloth.  
  • Put on jewelry after you have sprayed perfume or applied lotion so that the chemicals in the perfume or lotion do not interact with your jewelry’s metal. Wait until your skin is dry before putting jewelry on.
  • Remove jewelry when exercising, swimming or bathing to avoid placing your jewelry items in contact with moisture or liquid.


    (For more information about how to clean different kinds of jewelry, check out our Complete Guide For How To Clean Jewelry.)