The Bling's the Thing: DIY Jewelry Cleaners
Attention: We all need to be cleaning our bling more than we probably do. Jewelry is delicate and the daily assault of showering, cooking, (perhaps) gardening, and just spraying on perfume takes a toll on our precious metals.
As a general rule, “It’s good practice to put your jewelry on last—after cosmetics, hair products, body sprays and perfume,” notes Mark Mann, the Gemological Institute of America's senior director of global jewelry manufacturing arts. (Translation: He knows way more about jewels than you or I.) “You'll protect the integrity and appearance of all gemstones and metal alloys and keep your pieces looking beautiful in the long run.”
DO: Return your gems to sparkly greatness by soaking them in warm (almost hot) water with a bit of good old dishwashing soap for at least 30 minutes. Stick to a basic detergent, one without moisturizers or anti-bacterial ingredients. If there’s a build-up of gunk, use a soft wooden toothpick to carefully lift heavy materials away from the back of diamond after soaking.) “Then gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush, working the bristles in, around, and under the diamond,” advises Mann. Rinse under warm running water and repeat until all the gunk is gone.
DON’T: Use anything involving bleach, window cleaner or household degreasers. “Abrasive cleaning products will scratch precious metals,” says Mann. “Chlorine has the potential to attack base metals in gold alloys and weaken prongs.” To avoid dirtying diamond rings in the first place, remove before gardening or cooking.
DO: Again, dish soap is your friend. Mix a few drops with warm water and then dip a soft cloth in and use that to softly rub the jewelry. Then, rinse in cool water and blot until dry. For really heavy-duty tarnish, try this baking soda recipe.
DON’T: Soak it. That actually makes tarnish worse.
DO: Yep, you guessed it: Dish soap and warm water. Let gold jewelry soak for 15 minutes, then get your toothbrush out and follow these steps.
DON’T: Swim or shower in your gold — chlorine discolors gold and soap can leave a gross film on it.
DO: Just because your jewelry isn’t the real deal doesn’t mean it isn’t delicate. (In fact, it’s more delicate because it’s not built to last.) As a rule, try and keep these fakes away from water (the stones are held on by glue, after all, and water can loosen the bond). Instead, get in there with a toothbrush and gently remove any build-up. Rinse off (quickly!) and then blow dry each piece to prevent rusting. For bigger jobs, try a bit of baby shampoo.
DON’T: Use regular jewelry cleaner—it’s too strong for your jewelry.