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How (and When) to Clean Your Jewelry

Although it may seem hard to do, routine cleanings can be done with just a few household items.

person cleaning silver jewelry with a soft bristle brush
Leila Barber

While it doesn't get smelly like your soiled shirts or sweaty socks do, your jewelry needs cleaned. In fact, research showed that the insides of rings and the rungs of bracelets don't get clean when on, proving impenetrable to most hand sanitizers and soaps, which means the bacteria will still be there when you put them back on after showering or swimming.

Plus, if you've paid any amount of money for these accessories, let alone a considerable one, you should want them to look their best. Every piece, no matter the quality, loses its shine eventually, and proper upkeep is the only way to make it glisten.

When to Clean Your Jewelry

If you wear your jewelry regularly, you have to clean it regularly. Pieces worn every single day should be cleaned once a week, while pieces worn a few times a week should be retouched once every two weeks.

Regular cleanings are the only thing — besides a velvet-lined storage box, where moisture can be absorbed — that will prevent dullness and tarnish (but tarnish typically only happens to silver jewelry).

How to Clean Gold Jewelry

What you'll need: a bowl, lint-free cloth, warm water, dish soap and a soft bristle brush
  1. First, find a flat surface — with no drains, holes or floor vents — to clean your jewelry. You don't to lose it if you drop it once wet.
  2. In a small, shallow bowl, mix a conservative amount of dish soap with enough warm water to cover your jewelry. Use your soft bristle brush to activate the duo, creating a light lather.
  3. Place the accessories into the bowl, leaving them to sit for up to 15 minutes. This should't done for any longer.
  4. Gently brush the piece in its entirety with the soft bristle brush, ensuring the brush tip is wet each time.
  5. Rinse your jewelry under room temperature water and dry immediately with a soft cloth. Paper towels are too tough and could scratch it. If you let it air dry, water spots could appear on the piece's surface. If they do, they're easy to remove with a lint-free buffing cloth.

    How to Clean Silver Jewelry

    What you'll need: a bowl, lint-free cloth, warm water, dish soap and a soft bristle brush
    1. It's important to know that you clean solid gold and solid silver the same way.
    2. First, find a flat surface — with no drains, holes or floor vents — to clean your jewelry. You don't to lose it if you drop it once wet.
    3. In a small, shallow bowl, mix a conservative amount of dish soap with enough warm water to cover your jewelry. Use your soft bristle brush to activate the duo, creating a light lather.
    4. Place the accessories into the bowl, leaving them to sit for up to 15 minutes. This should't done for any longer.
    5. Gently brush the piece in its entirety with the soft bristle brush, ensuring the brush tip is wet each time.
    6. Rinse your jewelry under room temperature water and dry immediately with a soft cloth. Paper towels are too tough and could scratch it. If you let it air dry, water spots could appear on the piece's surface. If they do, they're easy to remove with a lint-free buffing cloth.

      How to Clean Plated Jewelry

      What you'll need: a bowl, lint-free cloth, warm water, dish soap and a soft bristle brush
      1. With plated jewelry, like silver-plated brass or gold vermeil, it's important to be delicate during the cleaning process. These pieces have a light layer of gold or silver on top, which can be completely scratched or washed away without much notice.
      2. First, find a flat surface — with no drains, holes or floor vents — to clean your jewelry. You don't to lose it if you drop it once wet.
      3. In a small, shallow bowl, mix a conservative amount of dish soap with enough warm water to cover your jewelry. Use your fingers to create bubbles — a.k.a a lather.
      4. Place your jewelry in the water and rub it clean with your fingers. Even the softest brush could scratch the surface, revealing that inner layer.
      5. Rinse your jewelry under room temperature water and dry immediately with a soft cloth. Paper towels are too tough and could scratch it. If you let it air dry, water spots could appear on the piece's surface. If they do, they're easy to remove with a lint-free buffing cloth.

        How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry

        What you'll need: silver cream, lint-free cloth
        1. First, it's important to understand that no tarnish is permanent. It can be saved.
        2. Tarnish is a chemical reaction caused when metal meets oxygen, and it typically happens to silver jewelry most often.
        3. To remove it, rub a small amount — whatever works for your jewelry; you don't need much — of Wright's Silver Cream onto a lint-free cloth. Work it into your silver.
        4. Once worked in, polish the piece. The tarnish should be cleared.
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