Jewelry gets dirty from everyday wear and tear, dust, fingerprints, and even your own natural oils. While scrubbing and soaking can clean many metals and non-porous gemstones, some materials require special care. Whether you have an organic stone or a rare piece of antique jewelry, it’s best to avoid harsh chemicals and home-cleaning techniques that could damage the material.
Jewelry cleaners are available in a variety of forms, from liquid soaps to ultrasonic cleaners, which use sound waves to gently scrub pieces clean. Most come with recommended use lists to help you determine what types of gems and metals are safe to clean with them. Depending on the jewelry you own, you may also want to consider storage options to protect your treasures from scratches and dents.
We consulted jewelry experts to share their tried-and-true methods for cleaning everything from your everyday gold earrings and rings to your most stately heirlooms. Some of these tricks will keep your jewelry looking its best, while others can help you get it back to its original luster.
A simple solution of warm water and mild dishwashing soap is safe for most gold, silver, and other metals. To give your items a good cleaning, place them in a small bowl of soapy water and let them soak for a few minutes. Use a soft brush to scrub away any stuck-on grime. Rinse your pieces thoroughly, and dry them with a soft cloth.
For more serious stains, you can use a mixture of witch hazel or vinegar with baking soda. Pour the solution over your jewelry, allow it to soak for a few minutes, then scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse. This method isn’t ideal for plated jewelry, pearls, or other porous stones, and the baking soda can scratch delicate surfaces. It’s also slightly abrasive and might damage some gemstones and metals, so it’s best reserved for very dirty pieces.
Most jewelry cleaners are made with ingredients that are safe for most jewelry, and some can even be used to clean glass, mirrors, and stovetops. However, be sure to read the ingrediants of any product before using it on your precious gems and metals. Some are made with ammonia, which can be harmful to some materials. Others contain bleach, which can discolor some gemstones.
Many jewelry cleaning products are available in stores, including ultrasonic cleaners and steam cleaners. For quick and easy cleaning, you can also try dipping your jewelry in a specially formulated solution. This will remove the majority of tarnish and built-up dirt with minimal scrubbing. We like Brilliant’s jewelry cleaner, which is ammonia-free and safe for most metals and non-porous gemstones, as well as being gentle on skin.