A Jewelry Maker Answers How to Clean Jewelry at Home
Shine, sparkle, glean, vibe; new jewelry has this je-ne-sais-quoi about it. It can breathe life back into an outfit, help you transition to a new look, and fill you with confidence in ways other parts of your wardrobe rarely do.
The sad thing is this effect tends to fade. After a while, that once-new pair of earrings or bracelet becomes dull and it’s on to the next new and shiny piece.
But like I tell my customers: you have a big say in when this happens! By regularly cleaning and maintaining your jewelry, that out-of-the-box excitement and glean sticks around longer.
You also don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive cleaning materials or services. There’s a good chance you already have most, if not all of what you need at home already.
With that said, here’s how to clean jewelry at home!
How to clean silver and gold
With silver, the main thing you have to worry about is tarnishing, which is wear and tear from exposure to air, moisture, or certain chemicals. Gold is more resistant to tarnishing, but more prone to contact-related scratching or damage.
To keep things simple, prioritize keeping silver away from the elements, and gold away from abrasive materials. Besides these differences, cleaning silver and gold jewelry at home looks relatively the same.
Cleaning materials you’ll need:
- Mild dish soap
- Warm water
- Window cleaner
- Soft-bristled toothbrush or a jewelry cleaning brush
- Low-abrasion polishing cloth like this
- Soft, lint-free cloth (think the kind of cloth you’d use to clean your glasses)
Steps for cleaning silver and gold at home:
- Wipe down with a polishing cloth after each use
- More occasionally (like every other week), clean with a soft cloth using a mixture of warm water and dish soap (soak jewelry in mixture for 5-10 minutes for dirtier pieces)
- Remove tougher spots with a soft-bristled toothbrush and window cleaner
- Rinse under warm running water to remove any residue.
- Pat dry with a soft cloth, laying your jewelry on a cloth to let dry completely (if necessary)
- Gently polish with a polishing cloth
See our Turquoise Crescent Moon Necklace.
Maintenance tips for silver and gold:
- Store in small cotton or plastic baggies (snack-size ziplock bags work fine) to reduce exposure to the elements
- Remove jewelry before going into a chlorine pool
- Clean right away after exposure to perfume, sunblock, or heavy sweating
How to clean pearls
Pearls are very delicate and easy to damage. They require a similar cleaning approach as the other jewelry in this list but with a little more gentleness.
Cleaning materials you’ll need:
- Very mild soap (like baby soap)
- Specialized pearl cleaner
- Distilled water (non-distilled water can cause leftover scum on your pearls)
- Soft, lint-free cloth
Steps for cleaning pearls at home:
- After wearing, wash your hands and gently wipe your pearls with a cloth
- For deeper cleans, dampen a cloth with a mixture of soap or a specialized pearl cleaner and distilled water and gently wipe your pearls (avoid using excessive pressure or soaking the pearls in water for long periods of time)
- Gently rinse with water to remove any soapy residue
- Lay your pearls flat on a soft towel and allow it to air dry completely before storing
See our White Pearl Huggies.
Maintenance tips for pearls:
- Store pearls separately in a soft, non-abrasive pouch or in a lined jewelry box to prevent scratching
- Avoid wearing pearls with too much makeup, lotions, body spray, or other cosmetics
- Avoid wearing them on days you expect to sweat a lot
- Don’t shower, sleep, or swim with them
How to Clean Gemstones
There are many different kinds of gemstones, so it’s hard to recommend one way to clean them.
That said, here are couple factors to consider when cleaning different gemstones:
- Porosity: Porous gemstones (i.e. opals and turquoise) absorb liquid easily and shouldn’t be soaked; instead, dip a cloth, toothbrush, or other tool in cleaning solution and rub. Non-porous gemstones (i.e. diamonds and sapphires) better tolerate being soaked.
- Sensitivity: Some gemstones (i.e. pearls) are more sensitive to heat, chemicals, or sudden temperature changes than others. Depending on your gemstone, everything from what cleaning solution you use to what makeup you wear needs to be considered.
To be safe, research how to clean your specific pieces—or even reach out to a professional cleaning service.
As you can see, cleaning your jewelry at home doesn’t have to be an expensive, chemical-heavy process. All you need is a handful of materials—most of them natural—and a few minutes out of your schedule every so often.
I hope the tips above help keep your collection shining bright for years to come. And when you are ready to expand, check out our list of amazing Canadian sustainable jewelry and lifestyle brands to support.
How to clean jewelry at home FAQs
How often should you clean jewelry?
How often you should clean your jewelry depends on how you wear it and its long-term purpose. Regular cleaning (daily, weekly, after each wear, etc.), combined with occasional deep cleans (monthly, quarterly, etc.) will help prolong the life of your pieces, keep their shine, and maintain their value long-term.
What is the best home remedy to clean jewelry?
I’d recommend three at-home remedies to clean jewelry, depending on how strong of a clean is required (the most gentle solution is at the top and the strongest at the bottom):
- Water (ideally distilled)
- Water mixed with a few drops of gentle soap, baby shampoo, or dish detergent
- Vinegar or Windex (research before using these to make sure your specific jewelry can tolerate them)
How do you clean jewelry at home naturally?
Cleaning jewelry at home naturally is as easy as following these steps:
- Dry clean with a polishing cloth
- Wet clean with water, gentle soap, windex (for more stubborn dirt), and a toothbrush or soft, lint-free cloth
- Air dry on a soft cloth
How do you clean jewelry and make it shiny again?
Here’s a checklist for keeping your jewelry shiny and popping for as long as possible:
- Regular cleans, or even cleans after each wear
- Clean hands while handling during cleans
- Soft, non-abrasive cleaning tools, like toothbrushes, scrubs, and polishing cloths
- Natural cleaning solutions, like water, gentle soap, and baby shampoo combined with the occasional use of stronger solutions like dish detergent and Windex
- Gentle handling while cleaning
- Air drying followed by one final cloth polish
- Separate, temperature-appropriate storage
Can I use vinegar to clean my jewelry?
You can use vinegar to clean your jewelry, but it can be too strong for some pieces. To be safe, I’d recommend doing your own research or consulting a professional before using vinegar or other stronger cleaning solutions.