Chances are you’ve probably left some of your favorite jewelry in drawers and boxes because they’ve lost their beautiful glimmer. Keeping jewelry looking shiny and new is a never-ending battle. Plus, some accessories just seem to attract dirt. Not many people can constantly rely on a professional cleaning job, so you settle for the next best thing: doing it yourself. Thankfully, you can get some amazing results using materials you can find around your house.
While you can clean most pieces of jewelry at home, some accessories are too delicate because of their metal or gemstones. Gold and sterling silver are generally fairly tough and can handle the rougher cleanings non-professionals give them. Metals like platinum scratch more easily and probably require professional cleaning. However, if you don’t mind your more sensitive pieces having a matte look, you can attempt to clean them yourself.
Most gemstones don’t need any special handling. As long as you avoid powerful abrasives or acids, you can easily clean your gemstones without professional help. Simply use soap and warm water to remove the grime and return those gems to their previous beauty. The few exceptions to this are pearls, opals, coral, and turquoise. These are much more delicate or porous gemstones that require specific care.
When cleaning pearls, you must understand how fragile they truly are. After wearing pearls, you should wipe them down with a microfiber cloth. Never expose them to powerful substances such as ammonia, vinegar, or chlorine. If you notice that your pearls are losing some of their shine, you do have some options available. Pour a small amount of coconut or vegetable oil onto a cloth and gently apply it to their pearls. Then wrap the jewelry in a soft cloth and let them absorb the oil. Additionally, one of the best things you can do for pearls is to wear them. The oils from your skin help them avoid drying out and provide a beautiful shine.
For any piece that seems too delicate to handle more powerful options, you can use a dry jewelry rag or microfiber cloth. Be extremely careful as you wipe down your jewelry, as it can be extremely easy to bend the brackets that hold a gem in place. This is also a great way to finish off any jewelry cleaning you’ve done. The soft rag will absorb any of the remaining cleaning materials while polishing your accessories.
Generally, costume jewelry is easier to clean than more expensive pieces. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Primarily, gemstones and accents on costume jewelry rely on glue or another adhesive to stay in place. Powerful acids or cleaning agents can erode the adhesives, loosening the gems and damaging less expensive materials. This is also why you shouldn’t allow costume jewelry to soak in any liquid for very long. For the most part, you can rely on good old soap and water for your costume jewelry.
Think about it, aren’t the teeth just the jewels of the face? While it may seem odd, one of the best substances for cleaning jewelry is toothpaste. Toothpaste generally contains mild abrasives to help remove grime and food particles from teeth, so it makes sense they’d be able to gently clean jewelry. Put a little bit of toothpaste on an old toothbrush and gently scrub your accessories. Clean off the residue with a soft, damp cloth.
One of your more powerful options for cleaning jewelry at home is ammonia. Mix one-part ammonia with two parts warm water and fill as large a container as you need. Let your gold and silver treasures soak for up to ten minutes and then gently wipe them clean with a damp cloth. It’s important to remember not to use ammonia for any of the more delicate metals as the ammonia can erode them, making them look worse than the dirt did.
If you’re a fan of DIY cleaning, you’ve no doubt heard of the miracle cleaning powers of vinegar. Not only can it clean your coins, coffee machine, and clothes, but it can even save your accessories. Combine white vinegar and warm water in equal parts and let your jewelry soak for a few hours. Because white vinegar is substantially weaker than most other acids, you won’t harm most of your trinkets when using it. Plus, you won’t have to shell out money for cleaning products you won’t use very often.
For pieces that need a truly thorough cleaning, look no further than household baking soda. Mix a bit of baking soda with some water or vinegar to make a fine paste. Use a damp sponge or cloth to apply it to whatever you need to clean and watch as baking soda’s mild abrasiveness clears off the muck. Once you’re done applying the mixture, gently rinse it off with some warm water and use a soft, dry cloth to buff the jewelry.
Perhaps the most interesting thing you can do to clean your jewelry is relying on aluminum foil. Line a small bowl with a sheet of aluminum foil. Add in either bleach-free powdered laundry detergent or a mixture of water, baking soda, and vinegar. Place your gold or silver trinkets in the mixture and let them soak for about a minute. Rinse them well under warm water and let them air-dry. This uses a chemical process known as ion exchange to transfer impurities from the jewelry to the aluminum.
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