5 Ways to Clean Your Jewelry

Jul 10, 2018

If you wear a piece of jewelry often, it’s bound to get dirty.  Soap residue, dead skin, lotion, makeup–all kinds of things can buildup on your pieces.  And over time, the grimy residue can keep your jewelry from looking its best.  So how do you clean it?

Cleaning Tarnished Metals. There are a lot of household products that you can use to clean tarnished silver, gold and platinum.  Non-whitening toothpaste, baking soda, Dawn dish soap, but I think the best way to keep your jewelry is sparkling is with a tarnish cloth.

This $9 cloth will clean all of your jewelry with no harsh chemicals and no mess.  All you need is elbow grease.  If you have heirloom pieces that you don’t wear often, I recommend spending a little money on an anti-tarnish pouch to keep them in.

For Quick Touch Ups.  I keep a Diamond Dazzle Stick in my bathroom drawer to touch up the diamond earrings that I wear every day.  The gentle cleaning solution and flexible brush head let you snake around prongs and settings to get to where the real grime lives.  It’s a great product for those days when you just need a quick fix.

Cleaning Delicate Gold Pieces.  Cleaning small, delicate pieces of jewelry can be a real pain.  All the tiny crevices make it tough to get them really clean.  The best way to clean them involves Dawn dishwashing liquid (the gentlest), a bottle of club soda (not La Croix), a small wire-mesh strainer, and a soft toothbrush.

Simply mix the club soda with the dishwashing liquid in a large bowl.  Place the pieces into the mesh strainer and soak for five minutes.  Remove each piece and lightly scrub with the toothbrush before rinsing a bowl of clean tap water.  Dry with a soft cloth.

Be Careful with Pearls.  Pearls are porous, so cleaning them is a delicate dance.  First off, you should never soak your pearls to get them clean, only wipe them with a soft, damp cloth.  If they’re really dirty, you can use a clean paint brush and some mild dish liquid to spruce them up.  Second, the oils from your skin can weaken the silk thread that holds your necklace together, so professionals recommend taking them to a jewelry once-a-year for inspection and possible re-threading.

Dishwasher Safe Jewelry Cleaning. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but one of my friends swears by this product so much she gives it to newly engaged women as a gift.  So set aside all concerns about it getting lost or damaged, because she swears that even with years of weekly cleanings, she’s never had a problem.

The Aquasonic Wave Jewelry Cleaner is a mesh container that holds eight pieces of jewelry at a time. Your jewelry fastens in place and gets a jewelry-store quality clean.  My friend loves nice jewelry and used to own one of those bulky countertop jewelry cleaners to keep it all sparkling.  She is adamant, that this dishwasher basket gives her the cleanest jewelry without the work.

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  1. Mary G. says:

    Yes to Dawn! I clean my engagement ring weekly with warm water, a little dish soap, and a soft toothbrush. The before and after is always amazing. I can’t imagine putting it in the dishwasher, no matter what the reviews.

  2. Kate says:

    I have a close friend who is a jeweler and the following method is what she recommends: Add a bit of Mr.Clean to a bowl of warm water and put jewelry in and let soak for a few minutes. You can scrub the jewelry with a soft or old toothbrush. To rinse, place jewelry in tea strainer ball and hold under warm running water (this way there is no chance of you losing them down the drain when rinsing!)

  3. JBINDC says:

    Possibly amateur question here, but can these methods be used on costume jewelry as well? Some of my favorites are from Macy’s, Loft, JCrew, or the like – and are not “real” – and I would like to keep them clean as well. Can I use the same Dawn, warm water, and toothbrush routine on those? Thanks for the helpful tips, as always!!

    • Belle says:

      So you never want to soak costume jewelry, because there may be glue involved. I would say to use a toothbrush, a little bit of Dawn and water, and a dry cloth.

  4. Jules says:

    I have the same question as JBINDC. I have some fun ‘accessories’ that have what I assume are cheap metal parts. But they are getting real dirty, almost black. How to best revive them?

  5. Chelsea says:

    My mother sold fine jewelry for years. The dawn/club soda method is all she recommends, but she uses hot tap water instead of club soda.

  6. J says:

    For costume jewelry, it depends on the metal. If it’s stainless steel, I’ve never had a problem with the Dawn and warm water. If you’re not sure, I would spot test the back of a necklace. If it doesn’t go well, I use a very slightly damp microfiber cloth and clean the best I can. I also use a can of compressed air to dry in the nooks and crannies…probably more so with my costume jewelry because I’m afraid of rusting or something grosser!

  7. Delia says:

    You can bring your jewelry to a knowledgable jewelry store, and they will clean it for you and tell you the best way to clean it at home. Most of the time it’s free. A complicated cleaning job, or a large number of pieces, may incur a charge — just ask ahead of time.

  8. LAura says:

    Do you have any advice on cleaning watches? Especially in the summer I’m not sure how to keep them sunscreen-free – especially the leather bands.

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