DIY Clean Jewelry: Restore Shine to Your Treasures Safely

DIY Clean Jewelry

From my grandmother's vintage necklace to the ring I bought on a memorable trip, my jewelry is a tapestry of cherished memories. However, daily life, from the creams I wear to the very air around me, often dims their brilliance. But here's a secret: with a little DIY magic in the comfort of my own home, I've discovered ways to breathe life back into these sentimental pieces, making them gleam just as they once did. Join me as I share some of my personal tips and methods to restore that beloved sparkle.

Understanding Your Jewelry: Material Matters

Before cleaning your jewelry, it's imperative to recognize and understand the specific materials from which each piece is made. Precious metals, various gemstones, and pearls all possess unique characteristics and sensitivities.

For example, while gold can easily be scratched, sterling silver is prone to tarnishing, and delicate pearls can be damaged by chemicals and even the natural oils on your skin. Being aware of these distinctions ensures that each jewelry item receives the appropriate care, preventing potential damage and preserving its beauty and value.

The Importance of Cleaning Jewelry

Choosing to clean your jewelry at home, rather than relying solely on professional services, offers a multitude of benefits for both your treasured pieces and yourself:

  1. Preservation of Aesthetic Beauty: Over time, jewelry can accumulate dust, grime, and oils from the skin, which can cause it to lose its luster. Through regular cleaning, you're ensuring that each piece retains its original sparkle and allure.
  2. Extending the Lifespan of Your Jewelry: Daily exposure to pollutants, sweat, and natural body oils can be harmful to various jewelry materials. Dirt and grime, in particular, can act as abrasive agents, leading to faster deterioration of the jewelry's surface. By cleaning your pieces regularly, you minimize this wear and tear, thus prolonging their lifespan.
  3. Maintaining and Potentially Enhancing Its Value: This point is particularly relevant for pieces with significant monetary or sentimental value, such as heirlooms or investment pieces. By keeping them in top condition, not only are you ensuring they look their best, but you're also safeguarding their market or personal worth.
  4. Promotion of Skin Health: Wearing unclean jewelry can pose risks to your skin. Residue or build-up on jewelry can lead to skin irritation, allergic reactions, or even infections, especially in piercings. Regular cleaning ensures that your jewelry is free from irritants, making it safe and comfortable to wear.
DIY Clean Jewelry

Safe DIY Clean Jewelry Methods for Common Materials

Gold and Gold-Plated Jewelry

  • Dish Soap Bath: Start by mixing a few drops of mild dish soap in a bowl with lukewarm water. This will create a gentle cleansing solution that won't harm your jewelry. Submerge your gold or gold-plated pieces in this solution for approximately 20-30 minutes. This soaking process will help to loosen any accumulated grime or oils. After soaking, take a soft-bristled brush, preferably a toothbrush, and delicately scrub the jewelry to remove any residual dirt. Ensure that you rinse each piece thoroughly under cool running water to wash away any soap remnants. Finally, pat dry using a lint-free soft cloth, making sure no moisture remains.

Silver and Sterling Silver Jewelry

  • Baking Soda Scrub: Tarnish is a common issue with silver and sterling silver jewelry. To combat this, prepare a cleaning mixture using 2 parts baking soda to 1 part water, creating a thick paste. Gently apply this paste onto the tarnished areas of your silver pieces using your fingers or a soft cloth. Then, using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub the jewelry to help lift and remove the tarnish. It's essential to rinse your jewelry thoroughly under running water to ensure no baking soda residue remains. Pat dry with a soft cloth.

Gemstones (Including Diamonds, Rubies, Sapphires, and more)

  • Dish Soap Bath for Gemstones: Just like the method recommended for gold, create a solution with a few drops of mild dish soap and lukewarm water. Place your gemstone jewelry into this solution, letting it soak for approximately 20-30 minutes. The soaking process will help to dislodge any debris or oils from the gemstone's surface. Post-soaking, use a soft brush to gently scrub around and under the gemstones. Remember to rinse each piece under running water to remove soap traces and then pat dry.


  • Moist Cloth Technique: Pearls are organic gems, making them especially sensitive to chemicals, moisture, and excessive handling. To safely clean pearls, you don't need any soap or solution. Simply dampen a soft cloth with fresh water and tenderly wipe over each pearl, ensuring you don't drench them. Once cleaned, lay the pearl jewelry flat on a soft surface to air dry. This positioning prevents any undue stress on the string, ensuring it doesn't stretch or weaken over time.

Platinum Jewelry

  • Mild Dish Soap Bath: Similar to gold, platinum benefits from a gentle cleaning approach. Prepare a mixture by combining a few drops of mild dish soap with lukewarm water. Submerge your platinum items in this solution for about 20-30 minutes. Use a soft brush to gently scrub any intricate areas, then rinse the jewelry thoroughly under cool running water. Dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Costume Jewelry

  • Wipe Down: Due to the varied materials and finishes often found in costume jewelry, it's best to avoid soaking. Instead, take a soft cloth lightly dampened with lukewarm water and gently wipe down each piece. For jewelry with crevices or intricate designs, a soft brush can help remove accumulated grime. Always air dry costume jewelry completely before storing to prevent any moisture damage or rust.

Turquoise and Other Porous Gemstones

  • Dry Cleaning: These stones are highly susceptible to damage from moisture and chemicals. Rather than soaking, use a soft brush to gently dust off any dirt or debris. If necessary, a slightly damp cloth can be used, but ensure that the stone is dried immediately afterward.

Warning: Materials to Avoid

If you're taking the initiative to clean your jewelry at home, it's paramount to be informed about the substances that can potentially harm your treasured pieces. Here's a more detailed look at materials you should steer clear of:


While toothpaste is a popular makeshift cleaner, it is not recommended for jewelry. Many toothpaste formulations contain abrasive components designed to scrub away plaque. When used on jewelry, especially delicate metals and gemstones, these abrasives can cause minute scratches, diminishing the shine and potentially causing long-term damage.


This potent chemical is known for its disinfectant properties. However, its harsh nature can have detrimental effects on jewelry. When in contact with metals, especially silver, bleach can corrode and tarnish them. Furthermore, it can dramatically alter the color and appearance of some gemstones, causing irreparable damage.

Acids (such as vinegar or lemon juice)

While natural acids like vinegar and lemon juice are often hailed for their cleaning properties, they can be disastrous for certain jewelry materials. Such acids can etch the surface of many gemstones, making them appear dull or cloudy. Pearls, in particular, are highly susceptible to damage from acids, given their delicate organic composition.

Ultrasonic Cleaners

These machines, which utilize ultrasonic waves to clean items, can be effective for certain types of jewelry, but they are not universal cleaners. The vibrations they produce can inadvertently loosen prong settings or other fixture types, putting your precious stones at risk of falling out. Additionally, certain gemstones, like opals, pearls, and emeralds, can be damaged by the intense vibrations, causing internal fractures or surface blemishes.

Baking Soda

This common household item is frequently used in DIY cleaning solutions. However, while baking soda can clean tarnished silver when used correctly, it can be too abrasive for other jewelry materials. If not used with caution, it can scratch softer metals and many gemstones.


While alcohol can be an effective disinfectant, it's not always suitable for all jewelry types. It can strip away the natural oils from pearls, making them dull. Furthermore, it might react adversely with certain gemstones, potentially leading to discoloration.

Detergent and Soaps

While mild dish soap mixed with water can be gentle and effective for many pieces of jewelry, strong detergents or heavily perfumed soaps can leave a residue on your jewelry or potentially harm softer gemstones. Always opt for a gentle soap without dyes or strong fragrances.

DIY Clean Jewelry

Guide to Selecting the Appropriate Jewelry Cleaner Based on Material

The longevity and sparkle of your jewelry depend heavily on the cleaning agents you choose. Given the diversity of jewelry materials, a one-size-fits-all cleaning solution simply doesn't exist. Instead, it's vital to opt for cleaners that specifically cater to the material of your piece. Here's an elaborated guide:

  1. Gold:
    • Nature of the Metal: Gold is a soft metal that can easily get scratched or lose its luster when exposed to harsh chemicals.
    • Recommended Cleaner: A mixture of mild dish soap and warm (not hot) water. Create a lukewarm soapy solution, gently immerse the gold jewelry, and swish around. Using a soft-bristle brush can help in cleaning intricate designs. Always rinse with cool water and thoroughly dry with a soft cloth to restore its shine.
  2. Silver:
    • Nature of the Metal: Sterling silver, in particular, has a tendency to tarnish over time when exposed to air and moisture. Using the wrong cleaner can exacerbate this tarnishing or even damage the metal.
    • Recommended Cleaner: A specialized silver cleaning solution is essential. These are formulated to not only clean the silver but also to retard the tarnishing process. Always follow the instructions on the cleaner, and consider using anti-tarnish strips in your jewelry storage for added protection.
  3. Diamonds:
    • Nature of the Stone: Diamonds might be one of the hardest known materials, but they can easily attract grease and lose their sparkle. Moreover, using abrasive or ammonia-based cleaners can damage the setting or the diamond itself.
    • Recommended Cleaner: A gentle degreasing solution is perfect for diamonds. This can be made by mixing lukewarm water with a few drops of mild dish soap. Using a soft-bristle brush, gently scrub the diamond and its setting. It's essential to rinse the diamond piece thoroughly after cleaning to remove any soap residue.

Storage and Maintenance Tips

Once you've meticulously cleaned your jewelry, proper storage and maintenance are critical to ensure they remain in impeccable condition. Here's a comprehensive guide to safeguarding the beauty and integrity of your jewelry:

Store in Separate Pouches or Compartments

To minimize the risk of your jewelry pieces scratching each other or becoming entangled, store each item in its own soft pouch or in separate compartments within a jewelry box. Metals, gemstones, and especially delicate pieces like pearls can be easily scratched or damaged when they rub against each other. Storing them separately also prevents chains from knotting.

Avoid Direct Sunlight and Extreme Temperatures

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can adversely affect the color and sparkle of certain gemstones. Some stones, like amethyst and topaz, can fade or become discolored when left in the sun. Always store your jewelry in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to maintain the vibrancy of gemstone colors.

Limit Exposure to Chemicals and Harmful Agents

Chemicals found in cleaning products, chlorinated water in swimming pools, and even in everyday beauty products like lotions, perfumes, and hairsprays can negatively impact the sheen, color, and overall quality of your jewelry. Always remember to remove your jewelry when undertaking activities that might expose them to these substances.

Regular Inspections by a Professional

While it's great to conduct self-checks, for pieces that you wear regularly, it's wise to have them inspected by a professional jeweler at least once a year. They can identify early signs of wear and tear, loose gemstone settings, or potential issues that might not be immediately evident. This proactive approach can save you from unexpected damage or loss of gemstones in the future.

DIY Clean Jewelry FAQs

Q1: Why is it important to understand the material of my jewelry before cleaning?

Answer: Understanding the material of your jewelry is crucial because different jewelry materials possess unique sensitivities and characteristics. For instance, while gold can be easily scratched, pearls can be damaged by exposure to chemicals or moisture. Knowing these distinctions ensures that each jewelry item receives the appropriate care, preventing damage and preserving its beauty for years to come.

Q2: Can I use toothpaste to clean my jewelry?

Answer: No, it's not advisable to use toothpaste to clean your jewelry. Many toothpaste formulations contain abrasives that can cause minute scratches on jewelry, especially on delicate metals and gemstones. These scratches diminish their shine and can lead to long-term damage, reducing the jewelry's overall quality and appearance.

Q3: Is it safe to use baking soda for cleaning jewelry?

Answer: Baking soda can be effective in cleaning tarnished silver, but it's essential to be cautious when using it on other jewelry pieces. Baking soda can scratch softer metals and certain gemstones if not used correctly. Therefore, it's crucial to exercise care and follow appropriate cleaning guidelines.

Q4: How often should I clean my jewelry?

Answer: The frequency of jewelry cleaning depends on how often you wear your pieces and their exposure to pollutants, sweat, and natural body oils. However, as a general rule, regularly cleaning your jewelry can help maintain its luster and longevity, ensuring it continues to shine and look its best.

Q5: Can I use alcohol to clean my jewelry?

Answer: While alcohol can be an effective disinfectant, it's not suitable for all types of jewelry. For example, alcohol can strip away the natural oils from pearls, making them appear dull, and it might react adversely with certain gemstones, leading to discoloration or damage. Always consider the specific needs of your jewelry before using alcohol as a cleaning agent.

Q6: Why shouldn't I use ultrasonic cleaners for all my jewelry?

Answer: Ultrasonic cleaners use vibrations that can loosen settings, posing a risk of precious stones falling out. Additionally, certain gemstones, such as opals, pearls, and emeralds, can be damaged by these vibrations, causing internal fractures or surface blemishes. It's best to avoid ultrasonic cleaners, especially for delicate or valuable jewelry pieces.

Q7: How should I store my jewelry after cleaning?

Answer: After cleaning, store each piece separately in its designated pouch or compartment within a jewelry box. This prevents scratches and entanglements between pieces. Moreover, keeping your jewelry away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures is essential to maintain their vibrancy and overall integrity over time.

Q8: What should I do if I'm unsure about the material of my jewelry piece?

Answer: If you're uncertain about the material of your jewelry piece, it's always advisable to consult with a professional jeweler before attempting any cleaning. Their expertise can help you avoid potential damage and ensure your jewelry receives the appropriate care.

Q9: Why should I avoid direct sunlight when storing my jewelry?

Answer: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can have adverse effects on certain gemstones, causing them to lose their color and sparkle over time. This can result in fading or discoloration, diminishing the overall beauty and value of your jewelry.

Q10: Can I swim or shower with my jewelry on?

Answer: It's best to remove your jewelry when swimming, showering, or engaging in activities that expose them to chemicals or harmful agents. Chlorinated water in pools and the chemicals in soaps can negatively impact the sheen and overall quality of your jewelry, potentially causing damage and reducing its longevity.


After walking through this journey of restoring and preserving the beauty of my cherished jewelry, I've come to appreciate the profound bond we share with these glimmering pieces. They're not just accessories but repositories of memories, emotions, and stories.

The efforts we invest in caring for them go beyond ensuring their aesthetic allure. It's about respecting the sentiments and legacies they represent. For every ring, necklace, or bracelet we take the time to tend to, we are paying tribute to the moments and memories they enshrine.

From my grandmother's pearls to my latest acquisition, each piece echoes a narrative. As I gently cleanse and store each item, I'm not just safeguarding jewelry; I'm cherishing the stories of my life, ensuring they sparkle brightly for years to come.


Written by Just DIY

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