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How to Clean Jewelry for a Lasting Sparkle

Pearl necklace.

​Fine jewelry is the ultimate highlight and the perfect finishing touch to any outfit, and it demands extra care to keep its pristine condition. Unsightly blemishes on your accessories capture all the wrong kinds of attention. Before heading out on the town, a quick check and thorough cleaning will guarantee that you make the best impression and avoid embarrassment.

Maintaining your precious trinkets doesn’t have to be complicated, but oversimplifying the process will create plenty of problems. The various metals and gems are delicate and don’t always tolerate similar cleaning solutions. If you don’t know how to clean jewelry, you could take the wrong approach and permanently mar one of your most treasured heirlooms.

Your prized possessions demand the highest-quality care if they’re to sparkle and shine to the fullest. Learn how to keep them safe and stunning with these tips on cleaning jewelry correctly.

How to Clean Gold Jewelry

Oft-worn gold jewelry can develop a dull finish over time. Exposure to body oils, perfumes, lotions, makeup, and other everyday substances will cause gold to lose its luster, so you may need to clean it about once every 1–2 weeks if you use it frequently.

Cleaning gold is easy, but there are only a few ways to do it safely. Like silver, gold is a soft metal that even the most mildly abrasive materials can easily damage. Many everyday cleaning supplies like baking soda and paper towels can scratch gold if you aren’t careful. And while gold isn’t one of the most reactive metals, chlorine and other halogens can rapidly dissolve it. Bleach is off-limits, and you’ll want to take off your rings when you jump in the pool or hot tub.

You can opt for a gentle jewelry cleaning product that will remove dirt and residue without wearing down the gold finish. Meanwhile, a polishing cloth is handy for buffing out occasional light scratching and tarnish.

In a pinch, you can often refresh your gold pieces with a DIY jewelry cleaner that works just as well as a commercial product. Follow these steps to clean your gold jewelry with everyday household ingredients:

  1. Mix a few drops of mild dish soap with a cup of warm water in a small bowl
  2. Soak the gold jewelry for 5–20 minutes, cleaning one piece at a time or taking care to keep separate pieces from touching
  3. Gently scrub the jewelry as needed with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  4. Rinse each piece under cool water, using a strainer to hold small gold items
  5. Pat the jewelry dry with a clean, soft cloth

How to Clean Silver Jewelry

A polishing cloth is one of the quickest methods for cleaning silver jewelry with layers of dirt and tarnish. Polishing can cause gradual silver degradation, so you should only do it sparingly. Because sterling silver jewelry tarnishes more readily than pure silver, you may want to employ gentler techniques. To preserve your jewelry, the best tarnish remover for silver is a hot water bath with aluminum foil and baking soda.

A simple mixture of warm water and mild soap will make a sufficient jewelry-cleaning solution for everyday dirt and grime. Soaking your jewelry in a white vinegar bath for 2–3 hours can also loosen dirt and clear light tarnishing. Use a soft brush to gently scrub away lingering dirt and residue after soaking. Finish up by rinsing the jewelry with cool water and drying it with a clean cloth.

How to Clean Gemstones

As the most valuable market of any jewelry, diamonds deserve extra TLC to look their best. Gemstones on most fine jewelry stay married to a shining gold or silver base, and fortunately, the same general cleaning considerations apply.

Abrasive cleaners are often harmful and unnecessary for cleaning delicate gemstones. To clean your diamonds and other hard gemstones, soak them in your blend of warm water and mild soap. Wipe clean with a lint-free cloth, checking for loose stones as you work.

How to Clean Pearls

Pearls scratch easily, and the thin layers of nacre will readily chip with an overpowered cleaning solution. They need delicate treatment, ideally nothing more than a gentle wipe-down with a clean cloth after wearing. If you store and wear them properly and take them to a professional cleaner annually, you won’t need to worry about dirty or damaged pearls.

In those rare instances where your pearls need a deep clean, you’ll only need a few drops of mild dish soap in warm water. Dampen the corner of a clean cloth with the solution, and gently wipe down the pearls. Avoid wetting the silk string as you work, as it could damage the thread. Rinse by wiping with another cloth dipped in water.

Properly storing your pearls will prevent the need to regularly wash them or replace the string prematurely. Let your jewelry sit in a ventilated jewelry box away from your other pieces. Don’t hang the necklace, as it can stretch and weaken the silk thread.

How to Clean Costume Jewelry

You can clean costume jewelry the same way you clean fine jewelry. A little dish soap in water is all you need to restore the shine to most materials, but you can take the safest route by researching the particular types of gemstones and metals in your pieces.

The primary consideration in cleaning costume jewelry is avoiding hot water. If the water is too warm, you could melt the adhesive holding the stones in place.

How to Maintain Your Jewelry

While proper cleaning can retain the shimmer and sparkle in your favorite jewelry, a few wise habits will help you prevent damage and wear so you can go longer without maintenance. Follow these tips to keep your jewelry in the best possible shape:

  • Put on jewelry after makeup, perfume, lotions, and other accessories
  • Remove jewelry before bathing, swimming, gardening, cleaning, or any other activity that might subject them to harm
  • Take off rings and other jewelry before going to bed to prevent stones from loosening
  • Wear jewelry regularly to keep pearls moist and prevent tarnish
  • Schedule a professional jewelry cleaning at least twice annually

You can also try ultrasonic cleaners on certain jewelry for a professional-level clean. An ultrasonic cleaning machine uses high-frequency sound waves in a detergent solution to loosen hard-to-reach dirt, oil, and grime, making your jewelry cleaner than ever. But soft gemstones and pearls can easily break down in an ultrasonic cleaner, so following the cleaning guidelines for your equipment and jewelry is critical.

Find the Best Cleaning Help Using Anita’s

Clean jewelry is supposed to go on full display for all to see. But when cleaning the house takes up every second of your free time, you don’t get many chances to wear your favorite accessories out on the town. When you’re ready for a break from the ongoing responsibility of a tidy home, let a local cleaning expert take over by booking with Anita’s. Schedule a house cleaner with our team today to get reliable help when you need it most!


Anita's Housekeeping Editors