Taking care of gold jewelry can be overwhelming. Will it be clean enough with just water and soap? Can I clean gold jewelry at home without professional tools? What is the best way to clean safely but effectively? So many questions, and possibly, so much to lose. (Oh, the pressure!)
We’ll be going through these questions and more in this guide. Use these links below to skip to sections you’re interested in.
- Home DIY: Cleaning Gold Jewelry at Home 3 Ways
- Home Pro: Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner
- Professional Jeweler: Ultrasonic and Steam Cleaning
How do I know which method I should use to clean my jewelry?
Here’s a quick way to know:
Is your jewelry solid gold (10K, 14K, 18K or 24K)? Is it intact, without scratches or cracks? Does it have non-porous gems? Can it be submerged in liquid (e.g. no glued on designs)?
If you answered “Yes” to all questions, you can use all cleaning methods, from at-home tooth brush with soap, to professional ultrasonic jewelry cleaners and steam cleaners.
If you answered “No” to any question above, you should be more wary of how you clean your jewelry to avoid damage and maintain longevity of the piece.
Check this flowchart to decide the best way to clean jewelry for you:
DIY: How to clean gold jewelry at home 3 ways
1. Water, dish soap, clean fingers and a soft cloth
This classic method is great for quick easy cleaning for most jewelry types. Recommended for frequent cleaning routines and for jewelry with less intricate designs.
- Mix together warm water and dish soap. Use 2 drops of soap to every 100ml (approximately 3.3oz) of water.
- Soak jewelry for 3 minutes while gently rubbing with clean fingers.
- Finish off by rinsing off in clean water.
- Dry off with a soft dry cloth.
Pros: Easy method with no special tools required. Suitable for quick, regular cleaning on most jewelry. Effective way to keep simple everyday jewelry clean without a quarterly deep clean.
Cons: Using fingers, while efficient, is not effective for deep cleans. Fingers are too large to properly clean in between intricate designs and small chain links, where most of the build up happens.
2. Toothpaste, a soft brush and soft cloth
Toothpaste is a surprisingly versatile cleaning tool around the house, whether for defogging mirrors or cleaning the rubber on sneakers. And, you guessed it, works fantastically for express jewelry cleans!
- Add a dab or white toothpaste (not gel) to your jewelry.
- Use a soft brush to gently scrub the piece with particular focus on intricate designs and claws.
- Rinse off in clean water and dry off with a soft cloth.
Pros: Incredibly simple using common household items. Great for a quick brightening up when jewelry is looking a little dull, or after they’ve been through some tough environments (where lotions, oils, sweat etc have been involved).
Cons: Bristles, even if soft, can damage jewelry in the long term, or if used with too much pressure. Jewelry with softer stones (like emerald, opal and pearl), or gold plated jewelry with less than 2.5 microns should take care when cleaning with this method.
3. Baking soda, cotton bud, white vinegar, and soft cloth
Ahh, what doesn’t baking soda clean? This method provides the most comprehensive clean of all the Home DIY jewelry cleaning methods with just a few more household items added to the arsenal.
- Mix together half a cup of warm water with 3 tablespoons of baking soda.
- Lightly lather your jewelry in the paste with a cotton bud
- Place the fully lathered piece in a separate clean container and fill with vinegar until the jewelry is fully submerged.
- Leave to soak for up to 5 minutes.
- Remove the jewelry from the solution and rinse well under clean water.
- Dry off with a soft dry cloth.
Pros: Easy deeper jewelry cleaning method with readily available household items. Great way to clean even gold pieces with intricate design.
Cons: With this method, you should not clean gold jewelry with soft porous stones (like pearls, opals and emeralds) as the combination of baking soda and vinegar could damage them.
Home Pro: Cleaning gold jewelry with ultrasonic jewelry cleaners
The next level up from DIY jewelry cleaning at home involves the use of professional jewelers’ equipment, packaged in a compact, modern form: the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner.
Ultrasonic cleaners have long been used in industries where cleanliness is of the utmost importance, like medical and dental practices. In the jewelry world, they are the perfect cleaning companions to reach into the most intricate of designs while not foregoing the ability to deep clean.
Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner, dish soap and soft cloth
- Plug in the ultrasonic cleaner.
- Add enough water to submerge your jewelry.
- Lather your jewelry with dish soap. Use fingers to dab soap into areas where there is more potential for buildup, like in intricate design and claws.
- Turn the ultrasonic cleaner on and insert your jewelry. Watch the dust, grime and germs swirl away!
- Remove your jewelry from the solution once it’s finished a cleaning cycle and dry it off with a soft cloth.
Pros: Very thorough and effective cleaning method that is both quick (some in 3 minutes!) and requires little to no manual effort. You can even clean multiple items of jewelry at once as long as it can all be submerged in the water tank.
Cons: As with many other cleaning methods, it’s not recommended to clean gold jewelry with soft porous stones (like pearls, opals and emeralds). You should also take care when cleaning gold plated jewelry, especially if the thickness of gold is less than 2.5 microns. Check out this flowchart to determine what cleaning method to use for your jewelry.
[Related] What can you clean in an ultrasonic cleaner?
Clean gold jewelry the professional way
At the professional level, more advanced and commercial tools come into play. With larger, more specialized equipment and professional knowledge, jewelers’ are able to reverse even more of the damage that comes from not taking care of jewelry correctly.
Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner, Steam Cleaner, Polishing Wheel and Soft Cloth
- Soak the jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner with a chemical cleaning solution.
- Dry off with a soft cloth.
- Carefully buff scratches and abrasions away with a polishing wheel.
- Rinse off and debris and polishing solutions.
- Steam clean jewelry under a steam cleaner, making sure to twirl and angle jewelry to get into every nook and cranny.
- Dry off with a soft cloth.
- [optional] Polish with a polishing cloth or cream.
Pros: You’re able to get professional help determining the best method to clean your jewelry and get it cleaned with specialized commercial equipment. Used well, this method should restore your jewelry’s shine and luster more than others.
Cons: Professional jewelry cleaning sessions can come at a hefty cost. Research should also be conducted to determine the jewelers’ capability and reliability. Compared to other cleaning methods above, you have to go out of your way physically to search for a trusted jeweler.
Cleaning gold jewelry is about regularity
Keeping gold jewelry shining is more about taking care of it regularly rather than intensely once in a blue moon. Things like wiping jewelry off with a cloth after a sweaty day, or a quick monthly reset clean with an ultrasonic cleaner will better maintain its longevity in the long run.
[Related] A Starter Guide to Using Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners