“Never let anyone dull your sparkle” sound familiar? It is a quote often stated to many when there is something inspirational going on or some sort of motivational speech coming. Not this time, however, this time we are talking about your jewelry’s sparkle and how you should never let the original sparkle dull.
There are many ways to keep your jewelry looking dazzling and fabulous, most can be done at home and that is what I am going to share with you today. Most of these tricks to get that sparkle back don’t even involve you having to go to the store.
What NOT to do
First, we want to make sure that we are not using anything that is going to harm your beautiful jewelry. Soaking any jewelry for an extended amount of time can ruin the look and finish of your pieces.
Using anything abrasive like a scrubber or hard toothbrush (I use toothbrushes but only the soft head ones), these types of cleaning methods can scratch and really mess up the finish of your jewelry.
There is a lot of chemicals out there that can really ruin your jewelry in every way. I have seen people use ammonia, oils, brillo pads, and more to clean their jewelry.
Some of the basic supplies to cleaning your jewelry at home include (don’t worry we will discuss HOW to use these items in a bit):
Jewelry Cleaning Solutions
Jewelry cleaner, there are several options available for jewelry cleaner in stores and online. These products typically have some sort of solution in them that will clean your jewelry really well. Be cautious however, some of these can damage your jewelry.
Here is a good one that I was using before I found all of the following nonchemical methods to cleaning my jewelry!
Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine
Ultrasonic Cleaning is a really awesome way to clean your jewelry without damaging it or using any chemicals whatsoever! These little machines are mighty, they only need some water and an outlet (sometimes just batteries!) I found one that came highly recommended by many. The Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner with Digital Timer for Eyeglasses, Rings, Coins uses ultrasonic waves to clean your jewelry, you just set the timer and walk away, come back in a few minutes and your jewelry is like new again.
This is an inexpensive and modern way of keeping jewelry clean and is safe enough to use on a regular basis.
A really cool thing about these ultrasonic cleaning machines is that they can clean more than just jewelry, you can drop your favorite shades in there or even your eyeglasses! So it too is a multi-use product.
Did you know toothpaste has many, many uses other than just keeping your pearly whites clean and cavity-free? Seriously though, toothpaste is like Windex, it can clean almost anything!
For jewelry, though it is great because of the ingredients like baking soda and peroxide that are mixed in. Baking soda or peroxide alone will both do wonders for jewelry, but mix them up and that diamond ring will shine brighter than it did on display.
Good old baking soda, great for baking but even better for cleaning and freshness. Put a box in the fridge to keep stinky smells out, mix a little with water and exfoliate your face or use it as a jewelry cleaner.
The secret as to why baking soda works to clean the jewelry and other items so well is that its got a touch of abrasiveness to it, but not s much that it will damage your goods. The only thing that might get damaged is your eyes from the amount of sparkle you’ll get out of your jewelry when it is clean.
“The power of Dawn” (said in my Dawn commercial voice), so much grease and other build-ups of who knows what gets buried deep within all the tiny crevices of jewelry. If you are like me your rings are most vulnerable to this, my rings NEVER come off my fingers unless they are being cleaned, which I then feel naked until they are replaced.
Pressure cleaning your jewelry requires a pressure sprayer, kind of like a blaster. There is a neat trick I found and that is using a Waterpik tooth cleaner for this as a hack method!
I found a really TrioShine 3 in 1 Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Machine on Amazon that not only cleans jewelry but it sanitizes it (and other things too)
Lemon water and cotton pads
Lemon is a fantastic way to clean anything, it is a natural disinfectant and has the acidity levels to give an amazing shine to everything! Almost literally. So grab ya a lemon, some water, and a cotton pad or two and jump down to the “how-to” portion of the post.
Not So Basic
Beer, yes you can use beer for more than just drinking! But you do not want to use just any beer, not even a specialty beer. When cleaning jewelry you want to use a light beer, light beer has fewer hops and that gives it the perfect acidity balance.
Did you know you can use a club soda to clean your jewelry? Club soda is a really inexpensive way to leave your jewelry sparkling clean, even just one can go really far.
Know anyone that has dentures? If so steal one of the cleaning tabs they soak the dentures in overnight. The tab creates a bubbly reaction that helps get deep into the small crevices of your jewelry without damaging it.
There is a brand of soap called Softsoap that you have probably seen in a doctor’s office or dentist’s office. Have you ever washed your hands and then found yourself admiring your rings? Softsoap is amazing at cleaning your jewelry, also a great method to get grease and grime out of the nooks and crannies of the jewelry.
Ketchup is a quick cleaning method to clean your jewelry. If you are getting ready for a party and take a look at your jewelry only to realize that it is dull or looking gloomy? Every house (that I know of) has bottle ketchup either in the fridge or pantry. The acidity from the tomatoes gives a great shine!
What To Do
You can combine many of these tools together to create a piece of jewelry that looks it is brand new. Now you have a general idea of what kind of products you can use to clean your jewelry at home. You probably want to know how to use this stuff right? Read on my friends!
Most people think that you can just toss the product into a bowl, drop in your jewelry and leave it to soak. That is doable for most of these products but some you definitely can not just soak your jewelry in.
Now, before you go diving in and cleaning away at your jewelry make sure you know the metal you are working with, if you are unsure or if it fake skip the next portion of the post and drop down to “Cleaning Costume Jewelry” these are safe ways to clean your fake or unknown metals.
For most jewelry these methods are safe, but for metals like silver, stainless steel, copper and gold or silver-plated metals you will want to avoid some of these. I will make sure to mark them for you if you want to try them.
- Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine
In order to use the Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine to clean your jewelry, you will need an ultrasonic cleaning machine, water, and jewelry. These are really easy to use, you literally fill the machine with water according to the guidelines set it and walk away. When the time is done you dab it with a fresh cloth or paper towel to dry it off. You can also just lay it flat and let it air dry.
***Safe for all jewelry types
To clean your jewelry with some toothpaste you will need a toothpaste with baking soda as an ingredient (most have this) a soft-bristled toothbrush, water, and a paper towel.
Add some toothpaste to the brush, just a little will do and take the brush and use it in the same way you brush your teeth. Gently brushing up and down, left and right, covering the entire surface of your piece of jewelry with the toothpaste, including the inside of the jewelry.
Once you have the entire surface covered let it set for just a couple of minutes, then rinse off with warm water and pat dry with a clean cloth. You want to make sure you get all of the toothpaste off, otherwise, you’ll have a minty fresh piece of jewelry that does not sparkle as much as it could.
***Not safe for silver or gold plated, leather or fabric jewelry. Basically only use it on hard metals like gold that is 10k and under or white gold. Solid silver (.925) is fine too.
- Baking Soda
Baking soda is used almost like toothpaste, you will need some water (a very small amount), a soft-bristled toothbrush, and a napkin or soft cloth. You can also use a bowl or a cup to mix the water and baking soda in, or you can just use your palm.
You will take about a teaspoon of baking soda and add a few drops of water to it until it creates a paste. Once you have a paste consistency you will take the toothbrush and gently scrub all surface area of your jewelry item, making sure to touch the intricate details and get into the tiny spaces.
***Safe for all jewelry types
Using Dawn dish soap is a great way to clean jewelry. Especially rings and even more so for individuals that get their hands greasy or use their hands for work (or hobbies) things like dirt, oil, paint and other debris can get lodged into the tiny crevices of your rings and “the power of Dawn” releases those things with ease!
To use Dawn to clean your jewelry there are two methods:
One: coat the surface area of the jewelry in dawn using your fingers and rub it around, then take a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently scrub the surface area and rinse. Either lie flat to dry or pat dry.
Two: mix Dawn with warm water until it creates some suds and soak the jewelry in for a few minutes when you remove the jewelry rinse and either lie flat to dry or pat dry with a cloth. This method is like a bubble bath for your jewelry.
***Safe for all jewelry types
- Pressure Cleaning
Cleaning your jewelry the pressure cleaner way is pretty easy, but you HAVE to be careful. If you have a delicate piece you do not want to use this method, the pressure of the water can easily send a stone flying.
You will need a Waterpik tooth sprayer or spray gun(here is a good one I found on Amazon), water and a towel. Simply spray your item in spurts, making sure to get all the little spaces and then dry your jewelry with either the towel by patting it or just lying it flat.
***Safe for all jewelry types
For the not so basic jewelry cleaning methods…
You simply need to soak the jewelry in the beer, club soda, denture cleaner (mixed with water of course), soap or ketchup for a little bit, like a few minutes or an hour, I would avoid any longer than that.
Then you remove the jewelry from the cleaner and rinse the item really well with warm water and lie flat to dry or pat dry with a soft cloth. If your jewelry was pretty gunky you can take a soft-bristled brush to it to get all the tiny spaces clean before you rinse it off.
To clean your jewelry with lemon water all you need to do is get a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice (do not use the lemon juice from the bottle, use fresh lemons, you do not know for sure if it is pure or if anything was added to it – better to be safe!) into the bowl add some water to it and drop your jewelry in the mixture, let it sit for a few minutes, then pull it out and take the cotton pad to gently scrub the cleaner on the jewelry, and then rinse it off really well. Once it is all rinsed you will want to pat it dry with a towel.
***Not safe for costume jewelry or soft metals
Cleaning Costume Jewelry
Costume jewelry is typically fake, handmade and sometimes delicate so most of the methods mentioned above are not ideal for it. When it comes to your costume jewelry you want to clean it with a little more care. You might be thinking that costume jewelry isn’t that expensive so why clean it. Well, let me ask you this, would you be upset if you lost any piece of jewelry or it broke?
If you answered yes to that question then you should absolutely clean all of your jewelry, even the cheap costume stuff. I know I care about everything I buy, I sometimes think I have a hoarding problem. If I buy something for myself it is always for a reason, I never buy just because for myself, for my kiddos and hubby I do, but not me. So if I broke or damaged one of my pieces of jewelry I would be pretty upset.
To clean your costume jewelry you will first need to know what type of metal it is, this makes a HUGE difference in cleaning products you will use. You will want to find out if it is sterling silver, stainless steel, silver-plated, gold plated, titanium, tungsten, leather or plastic (talking beads here) and if there is cloth on it. you can see in this picture that I have a gorgeous gem with a gold plated setting but the cording is fabric.
Because of the features of this bracelet, I will need to use one of two methods, Dawn dish soap on both the fabric and the setting with the gem or Dawn on just the fabric and a plated safe product like toothpaste on the gem and setting. I usually just go Dawn, you can never go wrong with Dawn!
For most costume jewelry you will want to use Dawn, Softsoap, baking soda or toothpaste. These are my go-to methods for all of my handmade jewelry. They are not only safe but they are super inexpensive and all of the products can be used for other things around the house too, I love a good multi-tasker!
What about tarnished jewelry?
Do you have some old jewelry that is tarnished, ugly and that you are ready to give away or throw out? Before you go to those extreme measures try some of these methods first. I guarantee one of them is bound to work!
Dawn dish soap is again my first go-to for many reasons. A little Dawn goes a long way, while this process may take some elbow grease you will watch the tarnishing disappear before your eyes! Drop a dab of Dawn in your hand or on your fingers, grab your jewelry piece and rub the Dawn vigorously around all surfaces and stones or gems if there are any.
If needed you can use a soft cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush to help you with this. As you are rubbing your piece like there is a magic genie inside you will see some of the tarnish lift, once you start seeing that you can drop your jewelry into a Dawn bubble bath and let it sit for an hour or two.
After you’ve let them soak for a while you can remove the jewelry and rinse the Dawn off, you SHOULD see a major difference, if not just repeat the process until it is all clear.
Another great way to clean up your tarnished jewelry at home includes a lot of hard work and a polishing cloth, I am not a huge fan of this because it takes forever and is exhausting haha! Basically you polish and polish and polish until it is all gone.
By far the best methods are Dawn dish soap and the lemon water method. See the section above on how to do that. I literally just call for some lemon, water, and a soft cloth to do, super simple! If you combine the two methods by using Dawn first then do the lemoning you will find it more successful.
So you heard some myths…
Let’s those myths right up for you. Most people, especially jewelers will tell you that the best way and the only way you should be cleaning your jewelry is by taking it to a jeweler to have it cleaned. This is false, in every way. While yes, taking it to a jeweler is the easiest and “safest” option it is not always the “best” option.
I for one hate going to jewelry stores, the employees are always way too nice and over salesy. If you are only going in for a cleaning they are going to hound you to spend more money by telling you if you buy this $1000 ring we will clean your current jewelry at no cost. Or they will “clean it at no cost” while you wander around staring aimlessly at the gorgeous products you don’t dare buy for yourself.
The jewelry you have is the bait and you are the prey. Period.
Now, the myths that were probably told to you about cleaning your jewelry at home from a jeweler or someone to take our money include:
Do not use toothpaste! Well, this is true, as I stated above. You do not want to use toothpaste or baking soda on your precious metals (anything OVER 10k and fake or costume jewelry) the minor abrasiveness of both baking soda and toothpaste can and will scratch the surface of your jewelry. Just know what you are cleaning and you are good!
You can not clean your jewelry with alcohol unless it is a beer of course! Now, when I say alcohol I am talking about rubbing or other types of chemically driven products. These contain chemicals (duh) that leave a pretty ugly coating on stones and metals.
These alcohol compounds will not only leave your piece looking foggy and hideous but if you use it on gems like tanzanite and emeralds (two of my absolute favorite stones) it will forever murder them. These gems are made of and oil or water-based and if you use alcohol on they will dry out and crack. I actually had this happen recently to an opal pendant of mine, now I have to fix it.
Last but not least, it should be common sense but one should NOT BOIL jewelry, of any kind, ever. Let me explain, some might think well if you boil this it clean it well, hot water equals clean right? Well, no. not for everything and ESPECIALLY jewelry!
Think of your gorgeous and probably very sentimental pieces like noodles and we all know what happens to a noodle that has been boiled, right? It gets soft as it gets heated. Well, friends how do you think metal is shaped? It is melted and then formed or poured into molds that will make the ring, earrings or chain.
This ridiculousness came from people thinking that the ultrasonic cleaning machines use boiling water, now that you understand why we don’t boil our jewelry you should understand why that would not make sense. A manufacturer of a product made for cleaning jewelry is not going to risk that one.
Ultrasonic machines use ultrasonic waves in the water to push out grime and debris from the jewelry silly people, not boiling hot water. Actually, these machines use very little water and can be used for more than just jewelry, things like eyewear and you would not want to go boiling away at your Ray-Bans would you?
Some individuals also believe that chlorine will clean your jewelry too, this indeed is a MAJOR MYTH, never ever try cleaning your jewelry in straight chlorine, not only will it ruin your jewelry but it can cause your skin some gnarly harm. Also, think about your jewelry the next time you go swim in a pool, even the chlorinated water will cause damage if sitting in it too long.
That’s all folks
Well, folks, there you have it, all of my tips, tricks, and myths about cleaning your jewelry at home. Remember, the best way to clean any jewelry at home is with Dawn, soft cloth or toothbrush and some lukewarm water.
The next time someone tells you to “take it to a jeweler” you can tell them with confidence that you’ve got this!
Happy cleaning – we all know you are going to go binge clean your jewelry to test these methods and that is awesome!
Be sure to check out some other nifty functional craft ideas through our other posts here on Craft-ILY as well as checking out some videos on DIY and How To’s over on YouTube. Look for “Crafting Unedited” to see!