How to Clean Jewelry So It Shines Like New

Everything you need to know to clean silver, gold, and gemstones.


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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Have your favorite rings, necklaces, and other beloved adornments lost their sparkle? If so, you may be wondering how to clean your jewelry and get it looking good as new. Taking the pieces to a professional is one option—but that can be costly and inconvenient. Luckily, you can do it yourself and get any piece of fine jewelry shimmering again with just a few simple steps.

But how does your jewelry keep getting so dirty in the first place? Things like lotion, body oils, and makeup can build up on your jewelry, especially if you wear them daily. Wearing jewelry while exercising or even doing household chores and gardening can also expose your precious jewels and metals to harsh elements.

Don't worry, some wear and tear is normal, and you can quickly transform your jewelry from dull to dazzling by learning how to care for it at home. Use these simple techniques and expert tips to clean your precious gemstones, silver, and gold

Considerations Before You Get Started

Before we dive into how to clean different types of jewelry, there are some things you need to know first. While some of the steps are similar, cleaning each type of metal with the proper solution mixture and cleaning techniques is vital. Take precautions when cleaning your jewelry, so you don't ruin the item. Here are some things to consider before you get started.

Don't Use Abrasive or Harsh Chemicals on Silver and Gold

Avoid anything abrasive when cleaning your jewelry because it can scratch fine metals and gemstones. Also, avoid things such as bleach and metal cleaners because these can damage and discolor your gold and silver. You can invest in items such as silver jewelry polish or cleaners but ensure they are safe for the type of jewelry you are using them on. 

Take Caution when Cleaning Gemstones

Be sure to identify your gemstones before cleaning them, because they aren't all created equal. So, clean with caution and ensure that you don't use the wrong methods for various types of stones. For example, it's advised not to submerge gems such as pearls into water. Instead, you should use a damp cloth to wipe them clean.

Many gems respond well to a simple mixing solution of warm water and mild dish soap, but you can find proper cleaning methods for more sensitive gems with this guide by the International Gem Society

Now that you know what precautions to take, here's how to clean and care for your jewelry yourself.

How Often to Clean Jewelry

"It really depends on if you wear your jewelry constantly or occasionally as to how often you need to clean it," Kathleen Bamberger, jewelry expert and co-owner of Pawn Emporium Incorporated, says. "For example, if you wear your jewelry daily, you should clean it about once a week. However, if you only wear it for special occasions, then every four weeks or so should suffice," she advised.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft bristle toothbrush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Gold and silver polishing cloth (optional)
  • Soaking bowl


  • Mild dish soap
  • Ammonia


How to Clean Silver Jewelry

two silver rings in jewelry box

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  1. Mix cleaning solution.

    Mix lukewarm water in a small bowl with a few drops of mild dish liquid soap, such as Dawn. If your silver is heavily tarnished, you can add a few drops of ammonia to the mixture to help the tarnish break down more easily.

    Don't use ammonia every time you clean your jewelry because it can damage the metal if used too frequently.

  2. Soak for five minutes.

    Once your cleaning solution is mixed and ready to go, submerge your silver jewelry in it and let it soak for about five minutes. 

  3. Scrub away grime.

    After your jewelry has soaked in the solution, take a soft bristle toothbrush and gently scrub each piece. A toothbrush is a fantastic tool for cleaning jewelry because it scrubs away tarnish and grime and gets into those hard-to-reach crevices. However, be sure to use a soft bristle brush, so it doesn't leave scratches behind.

  4. Rinse with lukewarm water.

    Now that your silver is scrubbed clean, it's time to rinse it off in lukewarm water. To do so, you can prepare a second bowl of clean water or simply rinse the jewelry under the faucet in the sink. But whatever you do, make sure you have the drain catcher in place, so your precious silver doesn't go down the drain if you drop it. 

  5. Dry with a microfiber cloth.

    Use a soft microfiber cloth when drying off your jewelry. Don't use paper towels or a cloth with rough fabric because the fibers can scratch the metal and gemstones. 

How to Clean Gold Jewelry

four gold rings in a jewelry box

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  1. Buff with a polishing cloth.

    If your gold is dull and scratched up, start with a polishing cloth to buff the piece prior to cleaning. You can do this for silver jewelry as well. However, always ensure the piece your cleaning is real silver and gold before using a polishing cloth. If the piece is plated, it will discolor and strip the plating.

    Buffing should only be done every couple of months because the process removes tiny layers of the metal every time you polish. 

  2. Mix cleaning solution.

    A few drops of Dawn dish liquid and warm water are among the best mixtures for cleaning your gold jewelry. Using other solutions can damage the gold, so start with this simple solution to be safe. 

  3. Soak for 5-10 minutes.

    Let your gold jewelry soak for about five to ten minutes to break down the dirt and tarnish. 

  4. Gently scrub with a soft bristle toothbrush.

    Remember to always use a soft bristle toothbrush when cleaning jewelry. Gently scrub your pieces to get rid of dirt and restore the gold back to its glorious luster.

  5. Rinse with warm water.

    Once you scrub away the grime and get your gold glittering, rinse off the cleaning solution in warm water. 

  6. Dry the jewelry.

    You can lay out your pieces on a soft cloth to air dry or hand dry them with a microfiber cloth. 

How to Clean Gemstones

three stacked rings with gemstones

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  1. Mix a simple cleaning solution.

    Similar to cleaning silver and gold, using a simple cleaning solution of a few drops of Dawn dish liquid and lukewarm water is the best route. Using things like baking soda and toothpaste can scratch the surface of the stones and damage them.

  2. Briefly soak your gems.

    If your gemstones are very dirty, you can give them a soak in your cleaning solution mixture. However, make it brief, only a few minutes, because depending on the type of stone, soaking too long can harm the polish of the stone. 

  3. Softly scrub with a toothbrush.

    A soft bristle toothbrush is great for cleaning gemstone jewelry because it can clean between tight areas that are difficult to address. Remember to use a gentle hand when scrubbing, so you don't scratch the surface of the stone. 

  4. Rinse with warm water.

    Once you give your gemstones a good scrubbing, rinse them under warm running water. This will help rinse away any dirt and grime that is still stuck beneath prongs and settings. 

  5. Pat dry with a soft cloth.

    One of the best ways to dry gemstone jewelry is to pat it dry with a soft cloth. While you may be tempted to shake your jewelry dry, you could risk losing a stone if it was scrubbed loose while cleaning. The key is to be gentle with every step of cleaning your jewelry to keep it in good condition and all stones intact.

How to Keep Your Jewelry Clean Longer

One of the easiest ways to keep your jewelry clean longer is to remove it before participating in messy chores or applying beauty products such as lotion, oils, and makeup.

"Even if you wear your jewelry while conditioning your hair, it can leave residue in your setting and build up over time and reduce the luster of the stones in your rings," advised Bamberger from Pawn Emporium Incorporated. "You should also avoid wearing your jewelry in pools, hot tubs or expose it to any type of chlorine, because it weakens the metal alloys and causes prongs to break," she advised. 

Another excellent way to keep your jewelry clean longer is to store it in a clean jewelry box. This prevents dust exposure and build-up and will keep your jewelry sparkling.

Remember to use the proper methods and cleaning materials for your various jewelry types. These simple do-it-yourself tips will help you to clean jewelry with ease and restore your beloved jewels to their natural splendor.

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