How to Clean Your Jewelry Safely and Effectively

Whether it’s a platinum ring handed down to you by grandma or a copper pair of earrings that were gifted from a loved one, jewelry gets dirty. Oil and dander from your skin, dust from the air and build up from hand and dish soap are just some of the things that can leave your precious jewelry dull and lacking in shine. Cleaning your jewelry regularly can help lift this debris and keep your jewelry looking its best.

Choosing the right method for cleaning your jewelry is important, as different types of jewelry require delicate handling and can be easily damaged by rough rubbing or harsh chemicals. In addition, certain jewelry can react differently to the same substances, leaving behind irreparable discoloration and tarnish.

A quick online search will reveal a long list of DIY at-home cleaners for jewelry, but not all are created equal. In fact, many of these recipes or old wives’ tales are likely to cause more harm than good to your jewelry. The most common culprits include vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and ammonia. These products are often abrasive, acidic or toxic and can damage everything from soft stones and plated metals to softer materials like pearls and opals.

While some of these homemade solutions may seem appealing, the easiest and safest way to clean your jewelry is with a simple solution of water and non-abrasive detergent. Soaking your jewelry in this solution will lift the most dirt and debris, but it will also leave your pieces sparkling bright with their natural luster.

If you have a bit more time, try using a gentle sonic cleaner. These devices use a stainless steel tank with generator powered ultrasonic transducers. When activated, these vibrate at an extremely high frequency (above the threshold of human hearing) and create trillions of microscopic bubbles. These bubbles implode against surfaces immersed in the solution, blasting away dirt and grime that has built up over time. Unlike abrasive scrubbers, this method of cleaning is effective on all jewelry from stud earrings to large necklaces and even hard-to-reach crevices.

When shopping for an ultrasonic cleaner, make sure to consider the size of the tank and frequency. Look for models with a larger capacity to accommodate your larger items of jewelry and choose a frequency that is appropriate for your specific needs. Some cleaners also offer bonus features, such as degassing functions to remove trapped air, a sweep function for uniform cavitation energy and a UV-C sterilization feature. This can be especially helpful for more delicate or expensive jewelry that requires extra care and attention.