If you want to clean your jewelry and get it back to looking its best, we have good news: the best jewelry cleaning methods are also the easiest. The hardest thing about cleaning your jewelry is actually avoiding the many things that can cause you to accidentally damage your jewelry. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up all our top jewelry cleaning tips to help you keep your jewelry safe while you restore its shine. Here are 6 jewelry cleaning tips everyone should know.
Tip #1: Use the At-Home Soap and Water Method
The easiest, safest, and most effective way to clean jewelry at home is with the gentle soap and water method. To clean your jewelry using this method, you’ll need warm water, dish soap, a small bowl, a soft toothbrush, and a soft cloth. Gather your materials and follow these simple steps:
- Make a cleaning solution. Add warm water and a few drops of gentle dish soap to your bowl. You want your water to be warm, since that will help loosen build up, but you don’t want it to be hot, since that can have a negative effect on certain jewelry materials. Don’t use moisturizing dish soap, which can leave a film on your jewelry.
- Soak your jewelry. Place your jewelry in your cleaning solution. Let it soak for 20 minutes.
- Gently scrub your jewelry. Remove your jewelry from your soapy water solution and carefully scrub it with your soft toothbrush. For jewelry that features very soft gemstones, such as pearls or opals, use a new makeup brush instead of a soft toothbrush.
- Rinse your jewelry. Rinse out your bowl, then refill it with fresh warm water. Rinse your jewelry in your bowl. You can also choose to rinse your jewelry under running water, but be sure to plug your drain before doing so. You don’t want to have to call a plumber.
- Dry your jewelry. Dry your jewelry using a soft lint-free cloth, like a jewelry cleaning cloth or a glasses cleaning cloth. Alternatively, you can set your jewelry in a safe place and let it air dry. Don’t use paper towels to dry off fine jewelry, as they’re often harsh enough to scratch precious metals or softer gemstones. For stranded jewelry, like a classic pearl necklace, always lay the jewelry down until it’s completely dry to avoid stretching wet thread.
- Repeat if needed. If your jewelry still looks dirty or dull, repeat steps 1 through 5.
Clean frequently worn jewelry at home weekly. Clean infrequently worn jewelry on an as-needed basis.
Tip #2: Get Regular Professional Cleanings
Getting your jewelry professionally cleaned from time to time is a crucial part of jewelry care. A professional can deep clean your jewelry in a way that’s simply not possible at home. Even more importantly, a jeweler will also inspect your jewelry when they clean it. This will help you avoid things like loose prongs, which can cause you to lose a gemstone.
How often should you get your jewelry professionally cleaned? Most jewelers suggest getting professional cleanings at least once a year. Jewelry pieces you wear every day, including engagement rings and wedding bands, should be professionally cleaned at least every six months.
Tip #3: Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Many of the chemicals found in common household cleaners can damage jewelry. Chemicals can discolor or even disintegrate precious metals and can damage gemstones. Even the chemicals in everyday beauty products, like hairspray and perfume, can be too harsh for soft or porous gemstones, such as pearls or turquoise. Some common chemicals can also rapidly tarnish sterling silver jewelry, causing you to have to spend a great deal of time rubbing off tarnish with a polishing cloth.
Chemicals to avoid when cleaning your jewelry include bleach, chlorine, acetone, and bromine. It’s also best to avoid exposing your jewelry to harsh chemicals during regular wear. Take off your jewelry before cleaning or cooking, or wear gloves for protection. Remove jewelry when you’re applying lotion, perfume, or hairspray. Always take off your jewelry before getting into a swimming pool or hot tub that has been treated with chlorine or bromine. Chlorine is particularly bad for gold jewelry, as it leaches out other metals in gold alloys, causing gold jewelry to become brittle.
Tip #4: Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Gold and other precious metals are easy to scratch, and so are the softer gems used in many gemstone jewelry designs. To avoid scratching your jewelry, don’t use abrasive cleaning products, such as baking soda, toothpaste, powdered cleaners, and scrubbing pads. Stick to non-abrasive cleaning methods if you want to keep your jewelry smooth and scratch-free.
Tip #5: Use Proper Care for Every Part of Your Jewelry
Each gemstone and precious metal is a unique material that requires special care. Consider the care needs of every part of your jewelry before you clean it. For example, if you have a necklace that’s made of rose gold, diamond, and amethyst, take care not to expose it to something that would harm any of these three materials. In this instance, you would want to follow all the standard jewelry care tips, then keep in mind that the amethyst in your necklace has a few special care requirements. Amethyst should not be exposed to steam or high heat.
Another thing to consider is how to store different jewelry materials. If you have a variety of jewelry designs, you don’t want to simply throw everything in the same jewelry box compartment. If you have diamond jewelry, keep it in its own compartment, away from more delicate jewelry it can scratch. If you have jewelry that has specific temperature or humidity requirements, you may need to keep your jewelry in more than one place. For instance, pearl jewelry needs moisture or it will crack, while sterling silver tarnishes in the presence of moisture. If you keep these two types of jewelry in the same environment, one will suffer, so they should be kept separately.
Your jewelry will have distinct cleaning and storage needs depending on what you have in your collection. Take some time to research your jewelry’s materials so you can keep it looking beautiful for decades to come.
Tip #6: Skip At-Home Ultrasonic Cleaners
Ultrasonic cleaners work by vigorously shaking your jewelry. This will get it clean, but can also damage it. At-home ultrasonic jewelry cleaners can cause jewelry settings to loosen, putting you at risk of losing a stone. Ultrasonic cleaners can also damage a wide range of gemstones, including pearls, opals, tanzanite, coral, amber, onyx, turquoise, lapis lazuli, topaz, tanzanite, any heat-treated stone, any highly included stone, and any stones that are touching each other within their setting.
Since there are so many ways at-home ultrasonic jewelry cleaners can damage jewelry, it’s best to avoid them entirely. There are gentler cleaning methods that work wonderfully and don’t come with such a high level of risk. Soapy water and a soft brush are truly all you need.