There’s a good chance you have jewelry that needs cleaning—from the daily bling you wear to those stately pieces you only wear for special occasions. But if you scrub too hard or use the wrong kind of cleaner, you could damage delicate materials like pearls and opals or scratch up precious metals. So we turned to the experts for tried-and-true methods to safely clean every type of jewelry, from opulent gemstones to everyday staples. Whether you’re looking for an ultrasonic cleaner, a jar of cleaner with a cloth or a machine designed to clean gemstones and metals, we’ve got the best products (and the techniques) to get your jewelry sparkling again.
The simplest way to clean jewelry is to fill a small bucket with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, then let your pieces soak overnight. You can also swish them around in the solution to dislodge stuck-on grime. After soaking, gently brush, rinse and dry with a soft toothbrush or a lint-free polishing cloth. This method works well for earrings, necklaces and bracelets, but it may not be as effective on rings with thick bands or heavy clasps.
Another easy option is to buy a commercial jewelry cleaner. Most of the brands we surveyed sell an all-in-one kit that contains a jar of cleaning solution with a cloth or small brush. Most are safe for many kinds of metal and stones, though you’ll want to check the label to make sure a product is suitable for your particular pieces.
Many commercial cleaners are available in a range of concentrations, from liquid to concentrated to abrasive. The strongest formulas can remove years of build-up with minimal scrubbing. The abrasive solutions are great for jewelry with heavy scratches or tarnish, but they’re not recommended for pearls, opals and other porous stones that need more gentle cleaning.
If you don’t want to invest in a commercial jewelry cleaner, you can try making your own solution at home. A simple mixture of warm water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent will work for most pieces, but you’ll need to be careful with delicate gems. For example, you shouldn’t mix a homemade solution with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar.
You can also use regular glass cleaner to scrub away light stains on your gemstones and metals. Just be careful that you don’t mix the cleaner with acids or abrasives, as they can harm your jewelry. A clean, soft-bristle toothbrush is a good choice for tackling tough spots and getting into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. You can even use it in conjunction with some of the other jewelry cleaners on our list to achieve an especially deep clean.