Using a Homemade Jewelry Cleaner? Avoid These 3 [VIDEO]
Search for "homemade jewelry cleaner" and you'll get hundreds of recipes with varying ingredients and instructions on how to clean jewelry at home. How do you know which to choose?
Always consider the source when weighing the safety and effectiveness of any DIY cleaning solution. While an organization specializing in cleaning might be better than a resource for general fashion, the best source is a jewelry expert.
Luckily, we know just where to find one - more than one actually. We have a number of GIA Graduate Gemologists and AGS Certified Gemologists on staff.
Here's what they have to say about these common DIY jewelry cleaning solutions:
Homemade Jewelry Cleaners
Witch Hazel, Tea Tree Oil & Baking Soda
One popular site specializing in do-it-yourself natural remedies recommends the following:
- Put the jewelry in a glass mason jar.
- Cover with 1/2 cup of vinegar or witch hazel. Add one drop of tea tree oil and swirl to mix.
- Allow jewelry to soak in the mixture overnight.
- The next morning, coat with baking soda and scrub with an old toothbrush, then rinse with water.
Our Advice: Every element in this method has the potential to damage your jewelry. Both witch hazel and vinegar are slightly acidic and won't agree with soft or porous stones or plated jewelry.
Baking soda is also slightly abrasive, which could scratch softer stones and metals.
Finally, using an old toothbrush is not the best recommendation either. Old toothbrushes will have toothpaste residue, which will scratch the jewelry.
Salt, Baking Soda & Dish Detergent
A prevalent resource for everything from fashion to food proposes the following to clean your jewelry at home:
- Line a bowl with aluminum foil and top with salt, baking soda, and dish detergent.
- Add hot water and drop in your jewelry, letting it sit for 10 minutes.
- Gently scrub with an old toothbrush.
- Rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
Our Advice: Again, there are potential issues with both the ingredients and methods in this suggestion.
You have abrasive baking soda, plus the instruction to scrub with an old, potentially contaminated, toothbrush. Steer clear of this method.
Hot Water & Baking Soda
A top cleaning resource suggests a simpler recipe:
- Let your rings sit for a few minutes in one cup of hot water with 1-2 tsp baking soda.
Our Advice: At least this recipe calls for fewer ingredients and no damaging tools. However, we still have the issue of abrasive baking soda, even in this simple solution.
Our Recommended Homemade Jewelry Cleaner
Dish Detergent & Warm Water
The best homemade jewelry cleaning solution is a mixture of a few drops of Dawn dish detergent in warm, not hot, water.
Let the piece sit in the solution for a few minutes, longer if it's very dirty, then gently scrub with a new, baby-size, soft toothbrush. To rinse, place the item in a new container of lukewarm water.
Make sure the water isn't too hot or too cold, as some gemstones do not take well to drastic changes in temperature.
You can dry the piece off with a paper towel or a regular cloth, as long as you're careful not to snag the prongs on the fibers.
See this method in action:
Visit Your Jeweler for a Cleaning
While dish detergent and warm water is the best homemade jewelry cleaner, there's no substitute for visiting your jeweler for a cleaning.
Skip the DIY cleaning entirely if your gem isn't red, white or blue. (That's rubies, diamonds and sapphires.) Many other gemstones have fickle properties that require specific care.
Your jeweler will know the proper procedures depending on the specific type of gemstone and metal, as well as check the item over for any damage beforehand.
We always recommend a semi-annual visit to your local jeweler!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 16, 2015.