How do I clean my jewelry?

Written By Allie Perry May 27, 2022

If I kept a list of all of the questions I'm asked on a daily basis, this would definitely be at the top!

You love to wear your jewelry, and whether you're wearing it while you play with your dogs or dig in the garden, it tends to collect...stuff...all the time.

🪴 Dirt

🧴 Hand cream and suntan lotion

🎨 Finger paint (no judgement here)

💇🏼‍♀️ Hair

☠️ Weird gunk that you don't even remember touching

If I'm being honest, jewelry can get kind of gross- I once had a client bring a ring in for cleaning that was packed with ground beef after a weekend of cooking. (You know those noises that dogs make, usually waking you up in the middle of the night, right before they hork up some weird thing all over their bed/blanket/only rug in the whole damn house?  I was definitely the human embodiment of those noises when I saw that ring.)

I know that there are a ton of cleaning solutions out there, but I'm here to tell you you don't need to buy any of them! You can use what you probably already have in your house.

Ready to be in on the secret?

Just use soap and water! 🤯

Dish soap works best, because it's designed to cut through grease- like the oils from our skin, or the lotion we may have put on. I've tried just about all of the dish soaps out there and, while they all work, I find Dawn works best. It's what I use in my studio, whether I put it in my ultrasonic cleaner for deep cleaning, or I'm using it to hand-clean all of the jewelry before I package it up and send it out to you!

If you have a really old, soft toothbrush (baby toothbrushes work great) you can use that to help the process along.  Just get the piece nice and sudsy and gently brush all around the nooks and crannies.

If something is extra grimy, you can soak it for a while (or even overnight) to loosen up whatever is under your stones, then brush it clean when you take it out.  Always do a little research beforehand to make sure your stone and jewelry are safe to soak! 

Most importantly, when you're done, make sure to rinse the piece completely clean with water!  Some stones, like diamonds, like to accumulate oils and grease (and things like soap residue), so if you don't rinse them, dust and dirt will stick to that soapy film, and they'll quickly look dull again.

If you want a really deep clean, a professional cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner will always get your stones sparkling again!

Ok, now let's bust some myths!

🦷 You may have heard that you can also use toothpaste to clean jewelry, but I don't recommend it.  While, yes, it will technically clean your pieces, toothpaste has abrasives in it to clean our teeth; those abrasives will leave little tiny micro scratches in your jewelry.  After a while those tiny scratches will accumulate and make your metal or stones look dull, and the only way to bring back the shine is to have the piece professionally polished to resurface the metal. If you've damaged a stone, the most common solution is generally to replace it. So just use the toothpaste on your teeth and save yourself the trouble!

🌀 I've had clients who were hesitant to allow me to deep clean their stones in an ultrasonic cleaner because they heard those machines will loosen up their stones. The good news is, they won't loosen up a stone that's tight- the bad news is that if your stone is loose, and only being held in place by dirt, lotion, and years of crud (and not by the actual metal that's meant to hold them in) as soon as the ultrasonic cleans away all of that gunk, the stone will either be jiggling around in the setting, or it will fall out completely.  This is why I don't generally recommend people buy their own ultrasonic machines- leave them to the professionals who will examine the piece first and check to ensure the stones are tight and the settings are secure before an ultrasonic machine is used.  If you already have one, try putting your jewelry in something that will gather any stones that may fall out.  Some people make little pouches out of old pantyhose, I use a fine mesh tea strainer. 

⚪️ Lots of people think pearls can't be cleaned, but they definitely can!  Pearls are sensitive, so you should only clean them when it's absolutely necessary. Most of the time, you can use a very soft rag to simply wipe them clean. If the silk that they're strung on needs cleaning, the best thing to do is soak them in a detergent made for delicates, like Woolite. Just mix a table spoon of Woolite and 1/2 cup water, and let the strand soak for a few minutes. Then rinse them clean and lay them flat until they are completely dry. You should always store your pearls flat anyway, and hanging a wet strand will cause the silk to stretch out.

That's it! Cleaning your jewelry is easy, and doing it regularly will prevent build up and keep your jewelry looking beautiful. 💍

Allie is the owner and goldsmith behind Allie Perry Designs.

Learn more about her here, or connect with her on Instagram!

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