How to Clean and Polish Your Jewelry

Jewelry cleaner

Your jewelry makes a statement, whether it’s an elegant evening piece or a simple accent to your everyday ensemble. But even the most gorgeous pieces can lose their shine over time, thanks to dirt, skin oils, residue from soaps and detergents or tarnish from exposure to air. Luckily, there are a variety of products on the market designed to clean and polish jewelry and bring it back to its original glory.

Many cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can damage or dull precious metals and stones, but some are also formulated to be gentle enough for use on even the most delicate gems. Look for products that are free of sulfates, parabens and fragrance, and avoid those containing alcohol, as this can dry out your pieces. If you have a more delicate collection, consider using a cleaner that’s safe for use with pearls and other porous gemstones.

A jar of liquid cleaner is one of the cheapest options, and it’s effective for most types of jewelry. Most brands have easy-to-follow directions that involve submerging a piece of jewelry in the solution and then scrubbing it with a soft brush. Some also include a lint-free cloth for polishing after the jewelry is completely dry.

Liquid cleaners can be a little messy, but some are formulated to minimize the mess. This product from Brilliant, for example, comes with a dipping tray so you can set your jewelry to soak in the formula for up to three minutes without having to hand-dip every piece. It’s also ammonia-free, so it’s suitable for most gemstones, although the strong smell might not be ideal for those who prefer a scent-free option.

Those with a larger jewelry collection may want to invest in a steam cleaner that can tackle multiple pieces at once. This product from Brilliant, for example, heats up quickly and can provide up to 15 minutes of continuous steam or steam bursts. It comes with a basket, polishing cloth and tweezers for holding the jewelry securely.

Some people swear by a homemade cleaner made from baking soda and warm water, but we’re not convinced it’s worth the mess. The abrasive baking soda can scratch up your metal, and the instruction to scrub with an old toothbrush might lead to bacteria growth. If you do decide to try this technique, remember to rinse and dry each piece of jewelry thoroughly before putting it away. Moisture breeds odor-causing bacteria, and some materials, like silver, can tarnish quickly if they’re not completely dry before storage.