How to Clean Jewelry: 4 Easy Tips

Your jewelry lets you complete every look in your wardrobe, giving you a polished, well-heeled appearance every time you leave the house. Whether you're talking about the watch you wear every day, a special occasion bracelet, or vintage costume jewelry, keeping your favorite pieces clean is a must.

Use this guide from west elm to learn four easy tips to keep your jewelry clean and looking its best every time you put it on.

1. Brighten Tarnished Silver

Silver jewelry is a go-to for many people. Many wedding bands and pieces like bracelets and rings that get worn every day are made of this precious metal. While your silver jewelry might match almost everything in your wardrobe, it can start to look a bit less than spectacular over time without a little cleaning.

Silver polish that you buy pre-made is an ideal option for solid silver pieces. Directions vary based on the manufacturer, but most formulas work by simply dabbing a bit of the mixture onto your jewelry before rubbing and buffing the polish off with a separate cloth. There are other options for silver maintenance though.

For mild tarnish, a mixture of water and a few drops of dish soap can be rubbed onto your jewelry with a lint-free cloth before being rinsed in clean water and buffed dry. You can do this in just a few minutes.

For heavier tarnish, a mixture that's three-parts baking soda to one part water can handle even more serious cleaning and degreasing. This time, apply the mixture with a lint-free cloth, taking care to scrub your jewelry well to remove built-up gunk and debris before rinsing with clean water and buffing your jewelry dry.

When cleaning silver, remember to rub gently if you're dealing with silver plating. Scrubbing too vigorously can start to remove the finish.

2. Bring Pearls Back to Life

Pieces of jewelry that feature pearls are timeless and classic, but caring for them can be confusing if you've never done it. The good news is that it's incredibly easy and you likely already have everything you need to bring natural, cultured or faux pearls back to life.

To clean your pearls, start by unclasping your jewelry and laying it on a soft lint-free cloth on a flat surface. After that, you can combine a few drops of mild shampoo with water in a small bowl, mixing the liquids thoroughly to combine them. When you're ready to start cleaning, simply dip a clean makeup brush into the mixture and go over each pearl carefully to regain a uniform polished appearance.

After cleaning, go over the pearls with a very lightly dampened lint-free cloth to remove the shampoo before allowing them to air dry on a flat surface before putting them away.

3. Liven Up Dull Gold

Gold jewelry may well be the gold standard and with just a little elbow grease, you can return your favorite pieces to their former glory. In fact, you've likely got everything you need for this in your house already.

Begin by mixing a few drops of dish soap with sodium-free club soda or seltzer water in a small bowl. Put your gold jewelry in a small strainer, then add it to the carbonated water and soap mixture. Let it soak for about five minutes before gently rubbing it with the bristles of a soft toothbrush to remove excess debris.

Place your gold jewelry back in the strainer and rinse it with cold water to remove any soap. Dry your gold with a lint-free cloth before wearing it or putting it away.

4. Care for Charming Costume Jewelry

Silver, pearls and gold are valuable and have their place in your jewelry box, but sometimes what you need to really show off your style is a piece of fun costume jewelry. Unlike silver, gold and pearls though, figuring out how to clean these items whose composition may be a bit suspect isn't always so obvious.

To tackle costume jewelry, simply mix a little bit of dish soap with plain water in a bowl until you see a moderate amount of bubbles forming. Use a clean cloth, ideally a lint-free one, to dab the soapy mixture on your gunked-up costume pieces. After that, repeat the process with just clean water and a separate cloth.

Gently dab your costume jewelry with a third clean, dry cloth and allow it to air-dry before putting it away. This is the best method for cleaning costume jewelry since the accents or stones are often glued in, not set in place, so they're susceptible to coming loose if soaked.

Cleaning your jewelry doesn't have to mean spending hours scrubbing. In fact, just a little bit of time and a few ingredients that are cost-effective and easy to get is all you need. Use these tips and never go out without your jewelry looking bright, shiny and new again!

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