If you're like me and your jewelry collection has really grown over the years, you might want to take the time to give it a good cleaning—I mean, who knows who long it's been sitting there? There are some pieces that might be tarnished beyond recognition, but once you give 'em a scrub they'll look exactly like they did when you first bought them. Just think of all the lotion and sunscreen and dirt that's built up on them...yeah, it's not a pleasant thought. You also don't want to accidentally damage your things, so be sure to read through to figure out how to clean each specific type from fine to costume pieces or from gold to silver jewelry.
What is the best homemade jewelry cleaner?
Gold and silver jewelry, including plated and white- and rose-gold metals, can be cleaned with warm water and several drops of dish detergent, according to Kimaï founders Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus. Combine them in a bowl and soak it in the solution for about 15 minutes, then scrub it with a baby toothbrush (the bristles on it are softer so it's more gentle) or a cotton swab to really get in all the crevices. Then give it a final rinse with water and dry it with a cloth or even with a hairdryer if you want to prevent any water streaks from appearing.
While platinum jewelry doesn't tarnish (impressive right?), that doesn't mean you shouldn't clean it at all, but you can get away with doing so less often. The same trick above works for this type of metal.
Another cool homemade way to clean dull silver jewelry is to lay it on aluminum foil in a bowl, add boiling water and baking soda, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. It's science! The aluminum reacts with the baking soda and it'll look brand new.
What if I'm low on time?
If you don't have 15 minutes handy to do a thorough soak, a polishing cloth also works wonders on silver, gold, brass, platinum, and copper and brings back lost luster. Just rub it over the metal until you start to see it shine. There are also polishing creams and sprays you can use along with the cloth for extra measure.
Another easy solution? "A soft cloth is an easy fix to keep pieces in pristine shape, like the one you would use on a pair of eyeglasses," says Jennifer J Matchett, Founder, Designer and Creative Director of MACHETE. "A quick wipe down should be done after daily use, especially if the jewelry is close to an area with a lot of moisturizer or makeup."
What if your jewelry has diamonds or stones in it?
With diamond jewelry, you can clean it the same way stated above (warm water with dish detergent and a soft brush), but keep in mind that precious and semi-precious stones (e.g., emerald, sapphire, amethyst, lapis lazuli) can crack if the water is too hot. If you see it really steaming, let it cool for a bit before soaking.
How do you clean fake or costume jewelry?
"For fashion and costume jewelry, the color can fade with time due to the thin layer of gold," says Warch and Neuhaus. They recommend using a cotton swab or cloth to gently clean it, but other common household items like baking soda, toothpaste, and even ketchup(?!) can renew also costume jewelry. Just check out the video below:
How do I protect it from tarnishing or scratching?
"Proper storage prevents unnecessary scratches and keeps dust away," says Matchett. She suggests storing jewelry in a cool, dry spot that's out of sunlight to make the quality really last. Tarnishing will inevitably occur in most jewelry because it's a reaction of the metal to moisture, air, or specific chemicals, but storing it correctly can help delay this process so you won't have to clean it as often.
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