A DIY Guide on How to Clean Jewelry

Someone wiping down jewelry with a microfiber cloth

Whether you own a collection of various types of jewelry or a few special pieces, there will come a time when you need to clean them. Tarnish and daily wear dulls the shine of precious metals and fades the sparkle of your favorite gems. But it’s not practical to take your jewelry to a professional every time you need to enhance the shine. Instead, you can occasionally clean your jewelry at home between wears or before putting them away for storage. With the right supplies and a simple guide, it’s easy to learn how to clean jewelry at home.

Supplies for Cleaning Jewelry

When learning how to clean jewelry, one of the most important concerns is the types of cleaners and supplies you need for various items. Gathering some simple supplies can help you clean most types of jewelry in a short time and with little effort. Before you get started, check your cabinets for these household supplies:

  • Mild Dish Soap
  • Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Strainer
  • Clean Makeup Brush

5 Things to Avoid When Cleaning Your Jewelry

Before you get started learning how to clean your jewelry at home, it’s important to understand the behavior you should avoid. Certain cleaners and supplies can damage soft metals and the stones in your favorite jewelry. Unfortunately, there are many myths about how to clean jewelry that can lead to damage. Here are five things you should avoid when cleaning your jewelry.

  1. Avoid using paper towels to dry your jewels since they can scratch soft metals.
  2. Never use household cleaners to clean your jewelry. Harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia can permanently damage your jewelry.
  3. Skip the use of ultrasonic cleaners at home. They work by causing vibrations that can loosen stones from the settings.
  4. Avoid using soaps with moisturizers. They can dull jewelry by leaving a film.
  5. Never use abrasive powdered cleaning products like toothpaste and baking soda to clean your jewelry. It can cause tiny scratches.

Pro Tip for How to Clean Jewelry

Many jewelry cleaning methods suggest soaking to loosen dirt and grime. Avoid soaking costume jewelry since stones are often glued in place and soaking can soften the glue.

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How Often Should I Clean My Jewelry?

How frequently you clean your jewelry depends on how often you wear it and the elements it is exposed to. You should always clean your jewelry when you notice the pieces are losing their natural shine and sparkle. You should have your jewelry pieces professionally inspected and cleaned once or twice a year to avoid damage that can occur with age.

How to Clean Diamond Rings

Cleaning a ring with a toothbrush and soap solution

Your rings are the diamond jewelry pieces you need to clean most often. If you wear them daily, they’re exposed to a variety of elements and grime. You want your engagement ring to never lose its sparkle, so it’s essential to provide a routine cleaning schedule every couple of weeks. Take these steps to clean your diamond rings.

  1. Mix a cleaning solution of very warm water and dish soap.
  2. Put your ring in the solution and allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes.
  3. With a soft-bristled toothbrush, very gently brush the stone to dislodge remaining dirt and grime.
  4. Rinse the ring thoroughly in warm running water.
  5. Repeat as needed.

Pro Tip for How to Clean Jewelry

Residue makes your rings look and feel dirty. Remove your rings before exposing your hands to cooking oils or thick lotions to reduce how often you need to clean your rings.

How to Clean Silver Jewelry

Your silver jewelry sparkles and shines when it’s clean. Unfortunately, it shows all of the blemishes on it when it’s dirty. Depending on how tarnished your silver is, you can choose from a few methods of cleaning. Try one or more of these methods when deciding how to clean jewelry made of silver.

Soap and Water

Mix a solution of dish soap and water. Instead of soaking your silver jewelry, dip a cloth in the soap and water solution, and rub the silver to remove tarnish. Rinse thoroughly under cool, running water, and buff it dry with another soft polishing cloth.

Silver Polish

If you’re facing extensive tarnish, a good silver tarnish will dissolve and remove tarnish while leaving a protective shine to keep your jewelry clean longer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Jewelry Wipes

If you don’t like the messy side effects of liquid silver polish, silver wipes are a good alternative. These disposable multi-layer cloths often have one side to wipe away tarnish and the other to leave a gleaming, protective shine.

Pro Tip for How to Clean Jewelry

If you love wearing your silver jewelry, here’s an excuse to wear it more often. Wearing silver jewelry causes friction, which wears away tarnish before it has the chance to build up.

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How to Clean Gold Jewelry

Your gold jewelry can be cleaned together in batches. However, if you have several pieces to clean, you may not want to clean your entire collection at once. Take these steps when cleaning gold jewelry pieces.

  1. Mix a solution of dish soap and warm water.
  2. Place small items in a strainer and place the strainer in the solution. Put larger pieces directly into the bowl.
  3. Let jewelry soak for about five minutes.
  4. Swish items around before removing them from the solution.
  5. Lay jewelry pieces out on a soft cloth, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently remove grime from crevices.
  6. Put small pieces back into the strainer and rinse them under running water. Rinse larger pieces separately under running water.
  7. Buff each piece dry with a soft cloth.

Pro Tip for How to Clean Jewelry

White gold is typically plated with rhodium for the bright white finish you love. If you’ve thoroughly cleaned your white gold jewelry and it still appears dull or yellowish, it may be time to have the piece re-plated.

How to Clean Gemstones

Your collection of jewelry has a variety of stones. Luckily, most types of gems are fairly resilient and can be cleaned in the same fashion as gold jewelry. These tips from the International Gem Society can help you choose how to clean your jewelry with gems so they sparkle without causing any damage.

  • Know your gems. Before cleaning, you should determine the types of stones in your jewelry. Some are sensitive to heat or react strongly to harsh chemicals.
  • Avoid the harsh chemicals in commercial cleaners. Ammonia and other chemicals are dangerous to sensitive gems.
  • Use a toothpick. A toothpick can be used to gently dislodge dirt from crevices and the area surrounding the prongs. Work patiently and gently to avoid damage.
  • Avoid changing temperatures mid-cleaning. Rinse your jewelry in temperatures similar to the soaking solution to avoid radical temperature changes.

How to Clean Antique Jewelry

It’s essential to take special care when cleaning antique jewelry. Often, fine antique jewelry is more delicate than modern pieces. Avoid wearing antique jewelry when you’re completing strenuous tasks or around harsh chemicals. Take antique jewelry to a professional for cleaning when possible. Otherwise, clean gently with mild soap and water, but avoid soaking.

How to Clean Pearls

It’s essential that you take special care when cleaning pearls. Since they’re porous, pearls can easily lose their luster. They can also be damaged easily. When possible, have your pearl jewelry cleaned by a professional jeweler. When you take on a DIY cleaning session for pearl jewelry at home, follow these tips to learn how to safely clean your jewelry with pearls:

  1. Never soak pearls since the process can weaken the string.
  2. Lay strands of pearls on a soft cloth for cleaning.
  3. Clean each pearl gently with a clean makeup brush dipped in a soap and water solution.
  4. Dry pearl jewelry gently with a damp cloth.

How Should I Clean Jewelry for Storage?

If you intend to store your jewelry for a period of time, then it should be carefully cleaned first. However, it’s not necessary to use a special method of cleaning. Decide how to clean jewelry pieces one by one as recommended above. Humidity and dampness are what cause most jewelry to tarnish. Ensure each piece is completely dry before placing them in the proper storage container or jewelry box.

Learning how to clean your jewelry at home is a simple process that can save you money and extend the life of your favorite jewelry pieces. Getting in the habit of routinely cleaning your jewelry will help you ensure your jewelry always has that sparkle that makes it look brand new.

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