How to Clean Your Jewellery at Home (Without the Hassle)
Jewellery is made to be worn. Personal, stylish and the perfect way to effortlessly elevate a well-worn outfit – it’s important to clean your jewellery right.
Maybe you’re adding a flourish to your workwear; maybe you’ve got a statement piece, saved for that big occasion. Maybe it’s from that special someone and you can’t bear to take it off. Whether for style or sentimental reasons, for many of us, jewellery is a part of everyday life.
Crafted from the finest precious metals, it is normal for the appearance of gold and sterling silver jewellery to change over time. Whether this is through tarnishing or the accumulation of dirt, many everyday products (such as soap, perfume and water) can cause jewellery to lose that brilliant, box-fresh shine. So, to make sure your gold and silver keep that Breakfast at Tiffany’s look, it’s important to clean it regularly.
With each year, ultrasonic jewellery cleaners, such as the RS Pro, are becoming more affordable. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy solution and don’t want to fork out, look no further than these two simple methods for cleaning jewellery at home.
Preparing to Clean Your Jewellery
Don’t know a shank from a setting, a bezel from a solitaire? Not to worry, you don’t need to be a professional to clean your jewellery right. With a wipe and a scrub using a few items found around the house, your gold and sterling silver pieces will have that box-fresh gleam you first fell in love with. However, so that your jewellery gets the best clean possible, we recommend checking the following before getting started.
Knowing the metal type of your jewellery is key. Precious metals can react differently when exposed to water, soap and chemicals. This means that if you use the wrong method, your pieces could come out uncleaned or worse, damaged. So, make sure to research the metal type of your jewellery before cleaning.
If your tarnished jewellery contains gemstones, be careful when cleaning as certain gemstones can react negatively to soap and other chemicals. Opals, pearls and turquoise are porous and are particularly susceptible to damage when exposed to water. So, we advise against soaking gemstones in water when cleaning.
Now that we’ve outlined what to check beforehand, read below for two simple methods for cleaning your jewellery at home. These methods are can be used for solid yellow, white and rose gold as well as sterling silver pieces:
1. Soapy Water
This method is ideal for:
One of the most popular ways to clean solid gold and sterling silver jewellery is by using soapy water. Whilst this method may sound straightforward, to make your jewellery truly glow follow the steps below.
For this method, you will need:
The soapy water cleaning hack is highly versatile and can be used for many different jewellery types. However, to ensure your jewellery comes out looking its best, we recommend adjusting this method depending on if you’re cleaning precious metals or gemstones. Read below to find out more:
How to Clean Your Jewellery with Soapy Water
Fill two bowls with warm water, mixing one with a few drops of mild washing up liquid. The bowl with washing-up liquid is for cleaning and the second bowl is for rinsing.
Place your gold or silver in the washing bowl and allow it to soak for up to 15 minutes. This will remove any dirt stuck to the surface of your jewellery.
With small or fine jewellery, such as earrings and thin chains, it can be difficult to find them in the soapy solution. To make cleaning this kind of jewellery as easy as possible, we recommend using a sieve to place them in the bowl. This also makes rinsing much easier.
After soaking, gently rub your jewellery with your fingers or the non-abrasive, lint-free cloth. For hard-to-reach areas, use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
After removing the dirt, rinse your jewellery in the bowl with plain, room temperature water. Once rinsed, gently pat the jewellery to dry it. A non-abrasive, lint-free cloth is perfect for this process.
Once any noticeable moisture has dried, give your jewellery a further wipe with a microfibre cloth. This will remove any watermarks and leave your pieces with a stunning shine.
How to Clean Your Gemstones with Soapy Water
The process for cleaning gemstones is very similar. However, instead of using still water, mix the washing up liquid in sparkling water. Sparkling water is more effective than standard tap water at removing debris, so it’s perfect for targeting impurities lodged in the small settings and facets of your gemstone.
Once dipped into the sparkling water solution, remove and brush the gemstones and settings with a soft toothbrush. To finish, rinse your jewellery in running water.
Whilst this method is appropriate for most gemstones, it cannot be used for opals, pearls and turquoise due to their porous nature. To clean opals, pearls and turquoise, first place the gemstone on a soft cloth. Dip a small, clean makeup brush into a mixture of warm water and mild washing up liquid, gently working over the gemstone. Once this has been done, rinse the gemstone with a clean, well-wrung damp cloth.
2. Bicarbonate of Soda
This method is ideal for:
One for the Bake Off fans: for heavier tarnishing and dirt, try using bicarbonate of soda. As well as for achieving a fluffy victoria sponge, bicarbonate of soda is ideal for deep cleaning solid gold and sterling silver jewellery.
For this method, you will need:
How to Clean Your Jewellery with Bicarbonate of Soda
Line the interior of the glass bowl with aluminium foil, with the shiny side of the foil facing upwards.
Add each tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and salt to the bowl. Then add hot water, making sure that the powders dissolve completely and that the water is deep enough to fully submerge your tarnished jewellery.
Place your jewellery in the mixture and leave it submerged for a few minutes. As time goes by, flakes of black and yellow will begin to float away from the piece. This is sulphur, the substance which causes oxidation and tarnishing. As the sulphur is attracted to aluminium, these flakes will float towards the sheet lining your bowl. Unlike the ‘soapy water’ method, you don’t need to scrub clean your jewellery as the chemical reaction with bicarbonate of soda is powerful enough to remove the tarnish without contact.
When the tarnish has come away, take your piece out of the bowl and rub it gently with a microfibre or lint-free cloth. Finally, rinse in warm running water and dry thoroughly with your cloth.
How to Clean Gemstone Jewellery with Bicarbonate of Soda
Whilst this soaking technique is ideal for deep cleaning solid gold and sterling silver, it is best not to submerge gemstone jewellery as it can risk making gems loose in their settings. Instead, just apply the bicarbonate of soda mixture as a paste.
To create your bicarbonate of soda paste, mix the bicarbonate of soda with a small amount of water.
Wet the jewellery and apply the paste with a soft, lint-free cloth, working it into the hard-to-reach sections of your jewellery. As you turn the cloth, it will pick up any dirt. After rubbing away the dirt, rinse and buff dry with a soft cloth.
As well as being ideal for gemstones, this method works as a quick deep-cleaning alternative for precious metal jewellery.
How to Keep Your Jewellery Clean
After using one of these methods, there are a number of ways to keep your gold and silver shining. To keep your jewellery looking fresh, we recommend the following five tips:
1. Avoid wearing in the shower
You should always avoid wearing your solid gold, sterling silver or gemstone jewellery in the shower. Chemicals used in shower gels, shampoos and conditioners can negatively affect your jewellery over time. If solid gold jewellery is worn in the shower, it will gradually become dull, losing its original shine. This also applies to gemstones. Likewise, if sterling silver jewellery is worn in the shower, it is very likely to tarnish. So, before showering, we recommend removing your jewellery, ensuring it is away from any excessive humidity.
2. Spray perfume before wearing your jewellery
You’d be forgiven for thinking that jewellery and perfume are a match made in heaven. After all, almost every perfume ad features someone spraying their desired eau de parfum on a jewellery-laden neck. However, in spite of this, you should always spray perfume before putting on your jewellery. This is because the oils and colour dyes within perfume can cause precious metals to become dull, lose their sheen and potentially tarnish.
3. When cooking, take any rings off beforehand
Wearing your jewellery whilst cooking can lead to unexpected tarnishing. This is because steam emitted whilst cooking can turn into condensation, settling on your jewellery. If this condensation is not quickly wiped away, it will lead to tarnishing. So before cooking, make sure that any rings or bracelets are put to one side.
4. Remove jewellery before exercising
Similar to cooking, wearing jewellery whilst exercising can cause it to tarnish. Sweat is the main culprit here: as a byproduct of exercise it can make its way onto your jewellery and stay there. As sweat is a solution of salt and water, if left on your jewellery it will very likely cause tarnishing.
5. Separate your jewellery into metal types and store in a dry place
Like the previous two points, the key tip here is to avoid moisture. If your jewellery is going to be stored for days to weeks at a time, we recommend storing it in a cool, dry place away from different metal types. If jewellery of different metal types is not separated when stored, it can lead to a chemical reaction occurring between your pieces that will cause tarnishing.