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How to Clean Earrings

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Black cloth wiping a pearl earring

Whether it’s a pair of delicate diamond studs, show-stopping gold hoops, or dangling colored gemstones – earrings can add the perfect finishing touch to any outfit. They can also bring out your best facial features, boosting your overall self-confidence. But like other fine jewelry, earrings need to be properly cleaned and cared for to preserve their value and sparkle – especially if you wear them every day!

Ahead, we’ll share several recommendations for cleaning your earrings at home – with special instructions for diamond, silver and pearl earrings, so you can enjoy them for years to come.

 

Why It’s Important to Clean Your Earrings

Practicing good earring hygiene can...

Prevent dirt buildup. Because of their placement on the body, earrings are often exposed to such things as makeup, moisturizer, hairspray, perfume, and shampoo. Dirt, grime and grease can accumulate as a result. 

Preserve their luster. When earrings are covered with dirt and grime, their appearance becomes dull. In fact, some may change color or tarnish due to interacting with the chemicals in certain products. 

Prevent bacterial infections. Oils from your skin, sweat and dead skin cells can build up and get trapped on your earring posts and backs. If left uncleaned for too long, it could lead to skin irritation, rash or infection. 

 

How Often Should I Clean My Earrings?

How often you clean your earrings largely depends on how often you wear them. If you wear them every day, they will need more routine cleaning, preferably every 1-2 weeks. For pairs you wear on special occasions, once a month should suffice. For earrings you’ve inherited or kept in storage for a long time, make sure to give them a thorough clean before wearing. 

Lastly, consider getting your earrings professionally cleaned by a local jeweler, at least once a year.

 

How to Clean Your Earrings at Home 

You can clean your earrings easily and safely using household items you probably already have. Keep in mind that different metals, gems and stones require different methods and solutions to achieve the best outcome.

 

How to Clean Diamond Earrings: The Soap Method 

Diamonds can still attract grease and oily substances. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to restore them to their brilliance and shine. 

What You’ll Need:

  • Shallow bowl
  • Lukewarm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush (unused of course)
  • Soft, clean cloth (lint-free)
  • Fine-mesh colander or tea strainer (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Wash your hands. You don’t want to risk spreading bacteria onto your earrings and ears.
  2. Check for loose stones before you proceed with cleaning.
  3. Fill a shallow bowl with lukewarm water and mix in a few drops of mild dish soap. 
  4. Place your earrings in the suds mixture and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently scrub nooks and crannies. 
  6. Rinse earrings under cool water (plug the drain for safety). You may opt to place earrings in a fine-mesh colander or tea strainer for easy handling. 
  7. Dry earrings with a soft, clean cloth.

Note: This cleaning method is safe for most metals, including gold, platinum and sterling silver, as well as hard gems such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds, topazes, garnets and quartzes. Use extra care with soft gemstones like pearls, opal, jade and aquamarine (no scrubbing!)

 

How to Clean Silver Earrings: The Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil Method

Real silver can quickly tarnish, especially without proper upkeep and cleaning. 

What You’ll Need: 

  • Pot of boiling water
  • Small pan or bowl
  • Aluminum foil
  • Baking soda
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush 

Instructions: 

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Boil some water. 
  3. Line a small pan or bowl with aluminum foil (shiny side up) and place your silver earrings inside of it.
  4. Generously sprinkle baking powder on top of your earrings.
  5. Pour the boiling water over the baking-powder covered earrings to create a paste-like consistency. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  6. Gently scrub earrings with a soft-bristled toothbrush to loosen dirt and oxides.
  7. Rinse under cool water then pat dry with a clean cloth.

 

How to Clean Pearl Earrings

Pearl earrings are delicate pieces of jewelry vulnerable to damage or scratches if not properly cared for. Since they are sensitive to chemicals, it is advised to avoid abrasive cleaning solutions and use conservative cleaning methods instead.

What You’ll Need: 

  • Shallow bowl
  • Lukewarm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Soft, clean cloths

Instructions: 

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Mix a solution of lukewarm water (water that is too hot or too cold can damage pearls) and mild dish soap into a small bowl. 
  3. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and gently massage the pearls. Do NOT submerge pearls in water. 
  4. Pat dry with a soft cloth or air-dry on a towel.

 

How to Clean Earring Backs

Clean earring backs – whether they’re stud posts or ear wire hooks is vital for keeping the metal in good condition and preventing infection. This is especially important if you have a new piercing. 

Any of the methods above can be used to clean your earring backs – just make sure you follow instructions based on metal type. To remove gunk build-up, gently use a soft-bristled toothbrush, Q-tip or toothpick.

 

Expert Tips to Keep Earrings Clean Longer

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before inserting or removing earrings. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria and dirt that can enter through the earring holes.  
  • Put your earrings on after you have completed your makeup or skincare routine.
  • Remove your earrings before going to bed or taking a shower.
  • Take your earrings out when exercising to prevent lots of sweat build-up, which can make your earrings grimy.
  • Don’t wear your earrings in a pool, as chlorinated water can tarnish and damage your earrings, especially if they're made of silver, stainless steel, or pearls.
  • Do not expose your earrings to harsh chemicals or solutions like bleach or acetone.
  • Store your earrings in a place where they won't get lost, be subject to direct sunlight, tarnish or scratch other jewelry. Try keeping them in an air-tight bag, anti-tarnish pouch or soft fabric jewelry box. 
  • Wipe your earrings with a soft, clean cloth after every wear.

While routine cleaning and maintenance are crucial for maintaining the appearance of your favorite earrings, you can further protect your earrings by insuring them. Obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual is an affordable option and covers loss, damage, and disappearance. You can check your rate by clicking the button below.

 

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.