We know our prized pieces of jewelry deserve to retain their high shine and beauty, yet it can feel daunting to clean them properly. That’s why we decided to clear things up with the perfect DIY recipe for cleaning your jewelry at home.
Over a matter of months or even weeks of use, you may notice that your favorite pieces of jewelry lose their luster. During typical use, gemstones and precious metals pick up a layer of natural oil from your skin. Dirt and dust gather on your once-brilliant jewelry, blocking light that would otherwise reflect and refract in stunning ways. Additionally, wearing jewelry during yard work, household chores, or other laborious tasks increases the negative effect.
If you’re like us, you already know of a few pieces from your jewelry box that require a good cleaning. But how often is this process necessary?
How Often Should You Clean Jewelry at Home
For the most part, it’s up to you how often to clean your jewelry. For example, it’s perfectly safe to wipe down often-used pieces like wedding sets daily, as long as you use a lint-free, soft microfiber cloth. This will reduce the number of times you have to break out the bowl and toothbrush for deeper cleanings.
For those comprehensive cleanings that really make your jewelry shine, we recommend a monthly cadence. But don’t be afraid to go full monty on pieces you intend to wear before a big night out or important event, even if it means breaking this schedule. Assuming you use our safe DIY jewelry cleaner recipe below, this will not harm your pieces and will drastically increase the period of time between trips to your jeweler of choice for professional cleanings.
Every six months or so, you’ll find that even the best natural jewelry cleaning method won’t take off stubborn dirt wedged under prongs and settings of gem-laden jewelry. That’s when it’s time to see a knowledgeable gemologist, whose methods are more powerful but riskier to try at home.
What Not to Do When Cleaning Jewelry at Home
While most people understand that the magnificence of their jewelry relies on pristine beauty, actually cleaning those precious pieces can feel daunting. Whether afraid of damaging a priceless heirloom or causing harm to costly diamond earrings, this hesitation is warranted. There is a clear set of bad practices to avoid at all costs.
Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals
Some might attempt to speed up the jewelry cleaning process by employing household cleaners, however, common formulas often include chemicals that are detrimental to precious metals and some gemstones. Anything involving chlorine, bleach, or acetone is especially dangerous for your jewelry, but it’s best to stay away from using any and all household cleaners to be safe.
Don’t Use Manual Abrasives
Precious metals like gold and silver are relatively soft and will easily take on scratches if abraided by the rough side of a sponge, an old, grimy toothbrush, or similar gritty tools. When in doubt, don’t use it! The only manual tool you should allow in your DIY jewelry cleaning kit is a new, very soft toothbrush.
Don’t Use an Ultrasonic Cleaner
An ultrasonic cleaner is a tub-like device that sends ultrasonic waves through a container of liquid that houses a piece of jewelry. The result is sparkling clean jewelry, but the risk is that the vibrations involved can cause stones to become loose or even fall out of their settings.
While this is the preferred method of professional gemologists, their ultrasonic cleaners are of a higher caliber than consumer-grade models and they have the knowledge to ensure nothing has been jostled loose before returning a piece to a customer.
There may be no harm in using an ultrasonic cleaner on purely metallic jewelry, like a men’s wedding band, but due to the high cost of these machines and the risk posed to other jewelry in your collection, it isn’t worth using.
Don’t Work Over an Open Drain
Ever tried using a drain snake to fish out a precious heirloom with a value that eclipses your car payment? If not, try to keep it that way — not that we’re speaking from experience. Small, detailed, and wet jewelry can be devilishly slippery and it just isn’t worth working over an open drain. Instead, use a large bowl and station yourself far from any places where jewelry could slip and be lost.
How To Make Your Own DIY Jewelry Cleaner
There is a quick and easy way to clean jewelry that produces great results and doesn’t break any of the rules above. To ensure no damage occurs to your jewelry, we have two versions of our recipe depending on what you plan to clean.
For cleaning silver and sterling silver jewelry, salt and vinegar are gentle and effective cleaning agents. But because they are mildly abrasive, it is recommended to switch them out for dish soap when cleaning pieces with softer metals, such as gold, or gemstones. Doing so could erode the metal or polish of the gems. If you are unsure of the composition of your jewelry or it’s a priceless heirloom passed through generations, air on the safe side.
With that covered, breathe new light into your gems and precious metals with the following DIY jewelry cleaner recipes below.
DIY Jewelry Cleaning Recipe for Silver
So you’ve decided to clean silver or sterling silver. Here is exactly what you need and how to get through every step of this simple and rewarding process.
What You’ll Need
- A Small- to Medium-Sized Bowl
- Aluminum Foil
- Baking Soda and Salt
- Warm Water
- A New, Soft Toothbrush
- A Lint-Free Microfiber Cloth
- Set out your bowl. Work in a safe place away from drains, cracks, or other dangers to your jewelry. Our ceramic cereal bowls are perfect for the occasion.
- Line your bowl. Cover the inside surface of the bowl with a large piece of aluminum.
- Fill the bowl with hot water. Make sure to add enough water to submerge the silver you plan on cleaning.
- Add Baking Soda and Salt. About two tablespoons of each ingredient are enough. Mix into the water to dissolve. When combined with the water, these ingredients activate in a chemical reaction that pulls tarnish from your jewelry and onto the aluminum foil.
- Place your jewelry in the solution. Allow them to soak for three to five minutes.
- Retrieve the jewelry. Inspect it for progress. If satisfied, place it on a lint-free cloth to allow it to dry. Do not wipe off the residual solution.
- Repeat, if necessary. If more cleaning is required, repeat the process from step 5. Consider professional intervention if tarnish remains after two soakings.
DIY Jewelry Cleaning Recipe for Non-Silver
If you want to clean jewelry made with gemstones and precious metals other than silver, the process will be slightly different than the above. Here is how to go about it.
What You’ll Need
- A Medium to Large Bowl
- Dish Soap
- Warm Water
- A New, Soft Toothbrush
- A Lint-Free Microfiber Cloth
- Set out your bowl. Work in a safe place away from drains, cracks, or other dangers to your jewelry.
- Fill the bowl with hot water. Make sure to add enough water to submerge the jewelry you plan on cleaning.
- Add a few drops of dish soap. Swirl the mixture until the soap dissolves.
- Place your jewelry in the solution. Allow your pieces to soak for 20 to 40 minutes. Because there is no chemical reaction taking place with the dish soap as there is with the salt and baking soda, soaking times will be longer and may vary.
- Retrieve the jewelry. Wipe it dry with a lint-free cloth, such as a microfiber towel. Using paper-based products will result in loose fibers stuck in prongs, settings, and other details of the pieces.
- Inspect your work. If your pieces look clean, wipe them dry with a lint-free cloth.
- Repeat if necessary. If stubborn dirt remains, repeat the soaking process.
- Brush away dirt. After the second soak, use a fresh, soft toothbrush to gently scrape away dirt in problem areas. Once you’re satisfied, finally wipe the pieces dry with your lint-free cloth.
That’s all it takes to clean your jewelry at home and save yourself another errand. For more informative how-to guides and household hacks, head over to our blog.
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