How to Clean Your Jewelry at Home

by Kiley Schiffman

Life happens. With constant competing priorities and engagements, there are always things which slide down the to-do list. Too often those simple tasks which get pushed to the side involve some of our most prized possessions. Jewelry cleaning is an essential part of the upkeep of your valuables, but making the time to stop at the jewelry store isn’t always the most convenient option. Your daily routine can lead to buildup on your jewelry. Lotion, soap, dust, and dirt can bury into the settings and clasps of jewelry and leave them looking dull and lifeless. From the pieces you wear every day to those you only bring out on the most special occasions, it’s a safe statement that all of your jewelry could use a good polish and cleaning. The good news is that you can clean much of your jewelry at home. While we recommend regular interval cleanings by a jeweler, there are several do-it-yourself tips and tricks that can bring back the sparkle you love on your favorite pieces of jewelry.

Silver

The best way to clean tarnished silver and prevent your pieces from re-tarnishing as quickly is to use a good silver polish. Silver polish contains ingredients that dissolve and remove tarnish while leaving behind a protective coating which seals out dust and grime that leads to tarnish. Liquid polishes are easily able to soak into all the nooks and crannies, but they can be messy. Using a silver polish wipe is a quick alternative that conveniently cleans while avoiding any mess. You can also clean your silver with a few things found in your kitchen. Mixing a few drops of dish soap with warm water in a small bowl provides a simple cleaning solution. Dip a cloth in the solution and rub silver jewelry to remove tarnish. Rinse the jewelry with clean cool water (don’t forget the drain stopper before rinsing) and buff to dry with a clean cloth. For more tarnished pieces, mix one-part water to three-parts baking soda and apply the paste to your jewelry with a lint-free cloth. After a few moments, rinse your jewelry very well in cool water and dry with a clean soft cloth.

Gold and Gemstones

Cleaning gold and gemstones is best done by a professional jeweler, but there are a few things you can easily do at home between cleanings to keep your pieces shining bright year-round. For solid gold pieces such as bracelets, chains, and earrings, set your jewelry into a gentle bath of dish soap and warm water. Be sure to place smaller pieces into a strainer to keep them together and then place into the solution for five minutes. After removing your gold jewelry from the soap solution, use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the links and crevices of your jewelry to dislodge dirt and grime. Rinse your pieces with cool running water and pat dry with a clean lint-free cloth. Gemstones are cleaned in almost the exact same manner, except the dish soap is mixed with seltzer water. The carbonation helps to loosen debris trapped in the settings of gemstones or under the facets. Soft toothbrush bristles dipped in clean water to rinse and scrub the gemstones helps to remove the loosened debris. Rinse under cool water and dry with a soft lint-free cloth to keep your gold and gemstones looking new between professional cleanings.

Pearls

Pearls are difficult. They require care and a gentle hand. Pearls are also extremely porous, which means with a buildup of dirt they can easily lose their luster. In order to clean pearls with care, we recommend a professional cleaning, but if you must clean them at home, here are a few things you can do to keep them looking like new. Never soak your pearls. Soaking can cause the string to weaken and possibly break, damaging the integrity of your pearl strands. Start a home cleaning by laying your pearls on a soft cloth. Dip a clean small makeup brush into a mixture of warm water and gentle shampoo. Use the brush to gently go over each pearl softly brushing clean to remove any buildup. Rinse the pearls with a clean, well-rung damp cloth and then place the strand flat to prevent any stretching caused by hanging.

While there is no substitute for having your valuable jewelry cleaned by a professional to help maintain the luster and shine to which you are accustomed, these easy at-home strategies provide a simple clean between professional cleanings. Taking care of your jewelry will keep it looking its best for years to come.