Clean Jewelry Naturally: DIY Cleaning Tips and Tricks


Looking for ways to clean jewelry naturally? Here are some tips and tricks for doing so. We’ll show you how to safely clean your jewelry at home without any harsh chemicals or risk of damage. We’ll also cover the do’s and don’ts when cleaning your jewelry so that you can keep your collection looking good as new. There are a few delicate gemstones that need extra TLC—we’ll cover this below.

Wearing jewelry is a great way to express your style and personality—it’s an extension of who you are. Keeping your jewelry clean and sparkly will ensure it lasts for years to come. If you don’t want to pay for professional cleaning, and wish to clean your jewelry naturally, you’re in good company!

We’ll cover how to clean different types of metals (including gold, silver, platinum), costume jewelry, and pearl necklaces, as well as tips for cleaning different types of gems.

Do’s and don’ts of DIY jewelry cleaning

Before you dive right in, it’s important to read up on a few cleaning best practices first. The last thing you want is a discolored emerald or a string of ruined pearls after trying to clean them yourself.


  • Keep it soft: Use soft materials such as a lint-free cloth, clean makeup brush, or soft-bristled toothbrushes to avoid scratching delicate jewelry.
  • Understand what type of jewelry or gemstone you’re working with: Do you know what types of gemstones are on your jewelry? Different gemstones have different physical properties with some more prone to scratching and discoloration when not cleaned properly. If you don’t know what type of gemstones are on your jewelry, it’s a good idea to ask a reputable jeweler or gemologist before performing any DIY cleaning.
  • Rinse well: After cleaning with any type of solution, always follow up with a thorough rinse. A good idea is to let your jewelry soak in a bowl of clean, lukewarm water for several minutes before wiping dry with a soft cloth. Rinsing under a faucet may not be a good idea for small items such as rings or earrings. We all know of someone who has accidentally dropped a wedding ring or precious earring down the sink!


The internet is full of conflicting advice. According to some jewelers, these are common things they’ve seen bloggers use to clean jewelry naturally which they don’t recommend:

  • Use very hot or very cold water: You’ll see many DIY tutorials telling you to pour boiling water over your jewelry—don’t do this! Some gemstones are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Using boiling hot water may also cause some prongs to loosen. Stick with warm water.
  • Use abrasive or acidic cleaners: While vinegar and baking soda are great natural cleaning products, they’re too harsh for many types of jewelry, particularly any type of plated or porous materials.
  • Essential oils: Witch hazel and tea tree essential oils are acidic which may damage porous jewelry.

Delicate gemstones that need extra TLC

Some gemstones can’t withstand certain products, and are more easily damaged than others. Here’s a few:

  • Pearls and amber: Avoid using ammonia or other chemicals. Sometimes you’ll see blog posts calling for the use of Windex (which contains ammonia) to soak jewelry.
  • Skip the DIY cleaning if it’s not red, white, and blue: Some jewelers recommend a general rule to only stick with cleaning rubies (red), diamonds (white), and sapphires (blue) at home. These precious gems are tougher than others.
Credit: Alexandra Lammerink / Unsplash

How to clean jewelry naturally

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. The International Gem Society (ISG) recommends using a solution of mild liquid dish soap (such as Dawn) and warm water.

Note: This method is only suitable for silver, gold, or platinum jewelry (including diamond rings). Never soak costume jewelry, pearls or opals.

You’ll need:

  • 2 small bowls (one for cleaning, one for rinsing)
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush or a clean makeup brush
  • Mild liquid dish soap (such as Dawn)
  • Soft, lint-free cloth
  • Optional: toothpick or tapered matchstick for cleaning built-on dirt

It’s important that you use a clean (or new) soft-bristled toothbrush. Anything too stiff could scratch your jewelry.

  1. Fill a small bowl with warm water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and swirl to mix.
  2. Place your jewelry in the soapy solution and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Gently scrub your jewelry with a toothbrush (or makeup brush) taking care to clean all facets of gems and going carefully over the prongs. The ISG says you can use a wooden toothpick or a tapered matchstick to pick out any dirt or debris, but of course tread gently.
  4. Remove from soapy solution and place in a bowl with clean lukewarm water to rinse.
  5. Remove from water bowl and shake off excess water. Pat dry with a clean cloth.

Tip: Clean tarnished silver pieces with a polishing cloth. You can buy jewelry polishing cloths from most jewelry stores and some hardware stores. Most have two layers: one side cleans and polishes while applying a protective barrier, the other side buffs to a shine or luster. These cloths are suitable for most types of jewelry.

How to clean costume jewelry

As costume jewelry often has glues and adhesives, avoid soaking jewelry in water. This may cause gems to fall off.

Instead, use a clean damp lint-free cloth to gently buff or shine jewelry. A jewelry polishing cloth works wonders for costume jewelry.

How to clean pearls naturally

Pearls aren’t like other gemstones and require special care—they are especially prone to scratches, acid (such as sweat!), and ammonia.

Never soak a pearl necklace in water. Water may get stuck in the drill holes or warp the string. You can however soak pearl jewelry with no drill holes (such as rings) in the soapy solution listed above.

To clean a pearl necklace you’ll need:

  • A soft mesh cloth for wiping
  • A bowl
  • Mild liquid dish soap (such as Dawn)
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Lint-free cloth for drying
  • A soft absorbent cloth such as a Turkish towel
  1. Fill a small bowl with warm water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and swirl to mix.
  2. Dip the mesh cloth into the soapy solution to dampen it. Carefully wipe each pearl. Inspect each pearl after wiping. If any dirt remains, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub off dirt or debris.
  3. Remember to clean the clasp too!
  4. Pat dry with a lint-free cloth. Dab between each pearl to remove any excess moisture.
  5. Lay the pearl necklace onto a Turkish towel to absorb any excess moisture.

How to keep jewelry clean and sparkly

So now that your jewelry is good as new, how do you keep it that way? The best way to keep jewelry clean and in good condition is with preventative maintenance.

  • Remove jewelry before swimming: Chlorine, salt water, and other pool chemicals can do a number on jewelry. The best solution is to remove your jewelry before swimming or sitting in the hot tub.
  • Remove jewelry before working out: Perspiration and moisture can buildup on jewelry making it quickly lose its luster. You also risk the chance of tugging on a necklace or scratching rings or bracelets.
  • Remove jewelry before doing household chores: If you’re cleaning, many household products contain chemicals such as ammonia which may discolor precious metals or pearls; bleach may pit gold alloys. If you’re gardening, dirt could get into crevices.
  • Put your jewelry on after you’re all dressed and made up: Even exposure to cosmetics, body lotion, and hairspray could damage your jewelry.
  • Proper storage: Storing your jewelry properly is one of the best preventative measures. Avoid throwing jewelry onto the tops of your dresser—it’s important to protect jewelry from sun and heat. Instead, store in a jewelry box. Keep jewelry separate from other metal objects such as coins, keys or hairpins which may scratch. Keep sterling silver in a anti-tarnish pouch.

The takeaway on how to clean jewelry naturally

We hope this article has helped you learn how to clean your jewelry naturally at home. The best way to clean most types of jewelry (except for pearl necklaces and costume jewelry) is by soaking in a mild solution of liquid dish soap and water. Avoid using any ingredients which are abrasive or acidic including baking soda and vinegar. And don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your items stored correctly!

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  1. Fogle, Katelyn (10 December 2020). “Using a Homemade Jewelry Cleaner? Avoid These 3” Jewelers Mutual Group. Accessed May 2021.
  2. International Gem Society (ISG), How to Clean Your Gemstone Jewelry, Accessed May 2021.
  3. International Gem Society (ISG), Opal and Pearl Care Guide, Accessed May 2021.
  4. Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Tips on Caring for Jewelry, Accessed May 2021.

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