The dark film that accumulates on your well-loved pieces can be unsightly but can be easily removed. Tarnishing is very common due to frequent wear so we’ve created this guide to show you just how to clean tarnished jewelry. The best part is – you can do it all right at home.
Why does jewelry tarnish?
The tarnish in your jewelry is a layer of corrosion that sits on top of metals.
Pure gold is the only metal that doesn’t tarnish. But gold alloys, which are commonly used in most jewelry, are combined with other metals such as silver, nickel, or copper. These metals naturally tarnish due to sulfur-containing gases in the air. The metals also react to our body oils, sweat, perfume, moisturizers, and other beauty products.
Can all types of jewelry be cleaned using the same method?
No, different types of jewelry require different cleaning methods. For example, you wouldn't want to use the same cleaning method for gold or silver jewelry as you would for pearls and soft stones. Always check the cleaning instructions for each type of metal and gemstone before cleaning your jewelry.
Is it safe to clean jewelry using toothpaste?
While toothpaste can be used to clean certain types of jewelry, it's not recommended for all types. Toothpaste can be abrasive, which can cause damage to some metals and gemstones. It's best to check the cleaning instructions for your jewelry before using toothpaste.
Before we begin - an important tip.
Tarnishing can be fixed with common household items, but beware of chlorine and detergents, which can damage soft metals like gold. To ensure you don’t run the risk of damaging your jewelry, make sure to research the best cleaning medium for your pieces.
Read through this article as we show you the process of properly - and safely - cleaning your jewelry. Let’s get started.
Preparing your materials.
Below, we’ve listed four ways on how to clean tarnished jewelry - and even costume jewelry. It’s important to check which metals and/or stones each method is good for. Prepare your workspace and let’s get cleaning.
How to clean tarnished jewelry at home in four ways:
1/ Clean with dish soap and water.
Dish soap and warm water is the easiest and most accessible way to clean your tarnished jewelry. This method is recommended for silver, gold, and non-porous gemstones.
Here’s what you need: a shallow bowl, warm water, dish soap, a soft brush, and a dry towel.
1/ Prepare a shallow bowl of warm water.
2/ Add a few drops of dish soap to the water.
3/ Mix the water and dish soap thoroughly.
4/ Submerge your jewelry in the mixture while rubbing off any sediments. You can use a soft brush for a deeper clean.
5/ Rinse the soap off your jewelry with water and dry.
2/ Clean with baking soda and water.
Baking soda is another cleaning staple you can find at home. This method is recommended for silver, gold, and non-porous gemstones.
Here’s what you need: a shallow bowl, warm water, baking soda, a soft brush, and a dry towel.
1/ Create a mixture of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part warm water.
2/ Submerge your jewelry in the mixture and use a soft brush to thoroughly clean.
3/ Rinse the mixture off your jewelry with water and dry.
Alternatively, you can also add vinegar. This method is recommended for: silver, gold, and non-porous gemstones. It is important to note that vinegar is too strong for pearls and soft stones.
What you need: a shallow bowl, water, baking soda, white vinegar, a soft brush, and a dry towel.
1/ Prepare a mixture of 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
2/ Submerge your jewelry in the mixture for a few minutes.
3/ Rinse your jewelry with water and dry.
3/ Clean with ammonia solution.
Ammonia is a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning your jewelry. It is effective when used from time to time, but can be damaging when used frequently. This method is recommended for gold and diamond jewelry.
What you need: cleaning gloves, protective gear, ammonia, dishwashing liquid, warm water, soft brush.
1/ Wear your cleaning gloves and protective gear before preparing your mixture. This will protect your hands, eyes, and mouth from being in contact with ammonia. Never use ammonia without proper ventilation.
2/ Create a mixture of 6 parts warm water and 1 part ammonia. You can also add a few drops of dishwashing soap to the mixture.
3/ Submerge your jewelry in the mixture and use a soft brush for a deeper clean.
4/ Rinse with water and dry.
4/ Clean with a commercial jewelry cleaner.
The steps listed above are recommended to use mostly for silver, gold, or diamond jewelry. For more delicate gemstones and pearls, there are great commercial cleaner options in the market from liquid solutions to ultrasonic cleaners.
How do you keep your jewelry clean?
Once you’re done cleaning, LifeStorageBlog recommends the following steps to properly store your jewelry and prevent it from tarnishing:
- Organize and store jewelry by metal
- Separate fine jewelry, costume jewelry, and silver jewelry. Metals react to other metals, so storing them separately prevents tarnishing.
- Store in a clean, cool, and dry place
- Moisture can cause metals to degrade quicker so low humidity levels are crucial to preserve and protect your collection. Dirty jewelry can also cause clean jewelry to tarnish quicker so don’t store them together.
- Silver jewelry is best stored in a box lined with felt. Felt helps absorb excess moisture thus preventing tarnishing. Alternatively, you can store them in a pouch with a silver polishing cloth.
- Diamonds are hard and capable of scratching other stones so they should be stored in a separate container.
- Pearls are also best stored in a box lined with felt. Pearls should NEVER be stored inside a plastic bag or box because plastic causes pearls to deteriorate.
How often should I clean my jewelry?
The frequency of cleaning your jewelry depends on how often you wear it and how quickly it tarnishes. A good rule of thumb is to clean your jewelry every three to six months, but if you notice tarnishing or discoloration, it may be time to clean it sooner. It’s also good practice to have your jewelry professionally cleaned once every year.
Video embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXzJ1iELc3M
A note from Italic.
We know that after investing in quality jewelry, maintaining their shine is your next priority. It’s ours, too. We believe that regular maintenance is paramount, so we’ve created this guide to teach you how to clean tarnished jewelry and to make the process less intimidating.
In conclusion, cleaning tarnished jewelry doesn't have to be a daunting task. With a few simple ingredients and some elbow grease, you can restore your jewelry to its former glory. Remember to always check the cleaning instructions for each type of metal and gemstone, and avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage your jewelry. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this guide, you can keep your jewelry looking shiny and new for years to come. So go ahead and give your jewelry some TLC – you'll be amazed at the difference a little cleaning can make!