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If your gold jewelry is looking a little lackluster, dont worry — a thorough cleaning will get it looking brand-new again! You dont even need to use expensive jewelry cleaners to get your gold sparkling and shining. Some simple household products you can find right at home will do the trick.

Cleaning Jewelry with Dish Soap

  1. 1

    Put a few drops of liquid dish detergent in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water. Mix gently. Though ordinary tap water will work fine, for even better results, you can use sodium-free seltzer water or club soda. The carbonation in these liquids can help loosen accumulated dirt and debris.[1]

    • Dont use hot or boiling water, especially if your jewelry contains fragile precious stones. Some precious stones, like opals, can crack if subjected to rapid and drastic temperature changes. Similarly, dont use freezing cold water because the grime will contract and get tougher.[2]
    • This method can also be used to polish gold filled jewelry.
  2. 2

    Soak the gold jewelry in the solution. Allow the jewelry to sit in the water for about 15-30 minutes. As it soaks, warm soapy water will work its way into the cracks and crevices, loosening hard-to-reach buildups of dirt.[3]

  3. 3

    Gently scrub the jewelry with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Scrub each piece of jewelry individually, paying special attention to nooks and crannies where dirt may be hidden. Use a very soft brush - the softer the better. Stiff bristles can scratch the surface of your jewelry. If your jewelry is gold-plated (as opposed to solid gold), especially, stiff bristles can even remove the gold layer entirely! However, if there is any crevice that is not cleaning up, take a Q-Tip and rub it softly along the fissure.[4]

    • Special brushes designed for this purpose are best, but most small, soft brushes (like, for instance, eyebrow brushes) will also work.
  4. 4

    Rinse each piece in warm running water. A good rinsing will help remove lingering dirt thats been loosened by the action of your brush. Again, make sure the water isnt hot , especially if your jewelry contains fragile stones. Dont let the water flow in a very powerful stream either as it pours a lot of strength on the jewel.

    • If youre rinsing your jewelry in a sink, plug or cover the drain so that you dont accidentally lose your jewelry if it slips out of your hands. Alternatively, rinse your jewelry in a pasta strainer or metal coffee filter.
  5. 5

    Blot dry with a soft cloth. Then, let the jewelry sit out on a towel to air dry completely before wearing it again. If your jewelry is still wet, wearing it can trap moisture against your skin, leading to minor skin irritation.

Cleaning Jewelry with Ammonia

  1. 1

    Know when to clean with ammonia. Ammonia is a powerful cleaner, but, chemically, it can be somewhat caustic. Avoid doing using ammonia to clean gold jewelry too often to prevent wear on your jewelry - ammonia is a good candidate for occasional (but not frequent) deep cleans.

    • Ammonia can damage certain materials often used in jewelry. Dont use ammonia when cleaning gold jewelry pieces that contain platinum or pearls.
  2. 2

    Add one part ammonia to six parts water. Stir gently to ensure an even mixture.[5]

  3. 3

    Soak the jewelry in the mixture for no more than one minute. Dont let jewelry sit in the ammonia mixture for too long - as a strong base, ammonia can be slightly corrosive.

    • To quickly remove all of the jewelry at once, use a kitchen strainer like you might use when cooking pasta. Either fish the jewelry out with a hand-held strainer or upend the bowl into a larger strainer in the sink.
  4. 4

    Rinse the jewelry thoroughly under running water. Plug or cover the drain of the sink to prevent losing any precious jewelry that slips out of your hand. Alternatively, simply use the strainer you used to get your jewelry out of the ammonia.

  5. 5

    Gently dry the jewelry with a soft polishing cloth. Allow jewelry to air dry on a towel completely before wearing it.

Cleaning Jewelry with Glued-In Gemstones

  1. 1

    Know which types of jewelry should be kept dry. Pieces of jewelry with gemstones that are glued into their setting (like many earrings) should not be submerged in water. Warm water can loosen the glue, which can cause your gemstones to fall out, especially when subjected to a thorough brushing.[6] For these types of jewelry, use a special cleaning method that avoids total submersion in water.

  2. 2

    Wipe the jewelry with a wet, soapy cloth. Make a small quantity of dish soap solution as in Method One. Dip a soft, delicate towel in the solution and gently scrub your jewelry.

  3. 3

    Rinse the jewelry with a cloth dampened with plain water. Gently dab a wet cloth onto the jewelry, taking care to soak up any leftover soap suds.

  4. 4

    Lay or hang the pieces upside down after cleaning. Allow your jewelry to dry in this way. By letting your jewelry dry upside down, you allow any remaining moisture to drip out, ensuring it wont soak into the setting.

Using Boiling Water

  1. 1

    Know when boiling is appropriate. Gold itself can be boiled with no problems. However, boiling delicate gemstones (like opals, pearls, coral, and moonstones) can cause them to crack or become damaged - especially if the jewelry is cold before boiling. Boiling is also a bad idea for jewelry with glued-in gemstones, as it can loosen the glue. However, if youre looking to clean heavily soiled jewelry made entirely out of gold or gold jewelry that contains strong gemstones (like diamonds), boiling is a great choice.

  2. 2

    Bring water to a boil. You dont need to boil much water - just enough to submerge all of the jewelry in. As youre waiting for the water to boil, set your gold jewelry in a sturdy bowl or another vessel that wont be damaged by boiling water. Pyrex or metal cooking bowls/dishes are good choices.

    • Arrange jewelry in the dish or bowl so that no piece of jewelry is covering up another piece - water should be able to reach every piece of jewelry.
  3. 3

    Carefully pour the water over your jewelry. Be very careful not to spill or splash by pouring too rapidly - boiling water can cause serious burns. When all of the jewelry is completely submerged, youve added enough water.

  4. 4

    Wait for the water to cool. When you can comfortably put your hands in the water, you can remove the jewelry. Follow a good boiling by scrubbing each piece of jewelry with a soft brush, then dabbing it dry with a soft towel and allowing it to sit and air-dry completely.

    • Dont be afraid if the water appears dirty - this is good! As boiling water loosens the dirt, wax, grime, etc. thats built up on your jewelry, it may float to the surface of the water. The dirtier your water looks, the more dirt youve removed from your jewelry!

Expert Q&A

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  • Question

    Can you polish gold jewelry yourself?

    Kennon

    Kennon Young is a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Graduate Gemologist, an American Society of Appraisers (ASA) Master Gemologist Appraiser, and a Jewelers of America (JA) Certified Bench Jeweler Technician. He received the highest credential in the jewelry appraisal industry, the ASA Master Gemologist Appraiser, in 2016.

    Kennon

    Master Gemologist Appraiser

    Expert Answer

    Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer.

    Yes, but if youre visually seeing scratches, youre going to need professional buffs. Consider taking the jewelry to a professional. Even the deepest scratches can be removed with laser welders these days, but its not something that you can always do at home.

  • Question

    How do you clean tarnished gold?

    Kennon

    Kennon Young is a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Graduate Gemologist, an American Society of Appraisers (ASA) Master Gemologist Appraiser, and a Jewelers of America (JA) Certified Bench Jeweler Technician. He received the highest credential in the jewelry appraisal industry, the ASA Master Gemologist Appraiser, in 2016.

    Kennon

    Master Gemologist Appraiser

    Expert Answer

    Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer.

    Gold will only tarnish after 50-60 years. If you have gold thats old enough to be tarnished, removing the tarnish will most likely devalue the gold as the tarnish is showing its antiquity. In that case, avoid de-tarnishing the gold.

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Tips

  • Store your gold jewelry in a way that avoids scratches. Each piece of jewelry should be stored in its own cloth bag.

  • You can remove stubborn grease from gold jewelry by dipping it into alcohol (unless the gemstones are glued in).[7]

  • Remember that you can always take your jewelry to a professional.[8]

  • To clean gold another way, try this trick: pick up a piece of chalk from the beach where the sea has washed over it. Rub your thumb on the chalk then rub your chalky thumb on the gold for a sew seconds. Wipe over with a dry cloth.

Warnings

  • Opal stones are very delicate. Never use chemicals, abrasives, toothpaste or ultrasonic cleaners, instead gently wipe with facial tissue or piece of silk.

  • If you have a gold ring with a diamond or any kind of gemstone, make sure that its prongs are not damaged and the stone is safe from falling out.

  • Dont use bleach...In fact, dont expose the jewelry to any kind of chlorine, as it can permanently discolor it.[9]

  • Toothpaste can scratch gold jewelry and gemstones, so its generally best to avoid using it for home cleaning.[10] [11]

About This Article

Article SummaryX

To clean your gold jewelry, start by mixing a few drops of liquid dish soap into a bowl of lukewarm water. Then, put your gold jewelry in the water and let it sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out your jewelry and gently scrub it with a clean soft-bristled toothbrush. Finish by rinsing your jewelry with warm water and then blotting it dry with a clean cloth. To learn how to clean your gold jewelry with toothpaste, boiling water, or ammonia, keep reading!

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