Jewelry should shine, but exposure to dust and dirt, lotions and soaps, even air and moisture can dull your favorite pieces over time and rob them of their shine.
Fortunately, most items in your jewelry box can be cleaned without going to a professional jeweler. Restore tarnished silver and dull gold to their old ones, get gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires that shine again, and give these pearls a lustrous appearance again.
When your bling has lost its, well, bling, check out these proven DIY cleaning methods from the experts at the Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab. Just take the right supplies (and a little elbow grease) to get started.
How to clean silver
The best way to clean tarnished silver coins and Keep them from tarnishing so quickly with a good silver polish, like the Good Housekeeping Seal Weiman Silver Polish, which contains ingredients that dissolve and remove tarnish while leaving a protective coating to prevent new tarnish from forming.
Liquid polishes can be a bit of a hassle to use, especially if you’re in a rush, so wipes (like the ones below) can be a more convenient alternative. Specially treated multi-layered cloths, which have one side to clean and remove tarnish and a second for shine, are also a good option.
3 DIY silver cleaning tips
If you don’t have silver polish on hand and need to clean the silver ASAP, try one of the DIY methods below. Just know that these treatments won’t stop the tarnish from coming back, and silver experts warn against using them too often (if at all). For silver plated jewelry, avoid excessive friction to avoid wearing out the finish.
- Use dish soap: Mix a few drops of dish soap, such as Dawn Ultra Liquid Dish Soap, with lukewarm water. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and use it to rub the silver in to remove the tarnish. Rinse with cold water and dry with another soft cloth.
- Try baking soda: For a more intense tarnish, mix three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the paste with a soft, lint-free cloth. Work it into the crevices and twist the rag as it picks up the tarnish. Rinse well and dry.
- Take toothpaste: Just as the mild abrasives in toothpaste remove stains from your teeth, they can also remove silver tarnish. Apply a dab of white toothpaste (no gel) to the tarnished silver and rub very gently with your finger or a soft cloth. Then rinse well with lukewarm water and buff to shine with a soft cloth.
How to clean gold
Give solid gold bracelets, chains and earrings a gentle bath in a solution of a few drops of dish soap and a little lukewarm water. Put small jewelry in a colander before placing them in the solution; large pieces can go straight into the bowl to soak for about five minutes. Rotate the items, then remove them, lay them on a soft cloth, and run over crevices and chain links with a soft toothbrush to loosen the dirt in them. Return the small pieces to the colander and rinse everything under running water. Dry with a soft cloth.
How to clean gemstones
Precious and semi-precious stones, such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires set in gold, are easily restored to the shine. You can use the same instructions as above for cleaning gold, but instead of using plain water, mix the dish soap with seltzer water. In tests by the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, carbonation helped loosen the soil and remove debris trapped in decors and on veneers.
Brush stones and settings with a soft toothbrush; then, soak them in clean water to rinse or place the pieces in a colander and rinse under running water. Buff dry and admire the shine.
To clean rings on the go, keep a jewelry cleaning stick in your purse. You will find them at Connoisseurs and Baublerella. Simply twist the wand to release the cleaner and use the tip of the soft brush to brush away dirt and grime. Rinse well and see your gems shine!
How to clean pearls
Because they are so porous, pearls can easily lose their shine. Whether they are real, cultured, or fake, you need to clean them with care. Rule number one: never soak the beads as this may weaken and break the string.
To gently clean the beads, first lay the thread on a soft cloth. Dip a small, clean makeup brush into a mixture of lukewarm water and a little shampoo, and brush over each bead. Finally, rinse the pearls with a clean, well-wrung damp cloth. Let the wire dry flat to prevent the rope from stretching.
This no-soak treatment also works well for turquoises and opals (which are also porous stones). Special pearl care kits, like this one from Town Talk, include cloth cleaner sachets and a polishing cloth.
How to clean costume jewelry
Dab a cloth in a soapy solution of dish soap and water and gently wipe off any stains or dirt. Then rinse with a cloth dampened in clear water. Pat dry and place the pieces upside down so that moisture does not penetrate into the decor. Because stones are often glued rather than fixed, do not soak costume pieces in water or the glue may come off and the “gems” may shatter.
How to properly maintain your jewelry
- Remove the rings when washing your hands, applying cosmetics, cleaning the house or applying lotions to keep the settings free of dirt.
- Do not wear jewelry while swimming – chlorine and salt water can damage it.
- Wipe the beads with a soft cloth after each wear to remove body oils and perfumes that may turn them yellow.
- Don’t let the money sit in your jewelry box – wear it! It becomes brighter as it wears (friction slows tarnish). When not wearing it, store the parts in a tarnish-resistant bag.
- Have your precious jewelry checked regularly by a reputable jeweler to ensure the stones are in good condition and the settings are secure.
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