Good news! You don’t need to pay big bucks for the best jewelry cleaner, it’s actually super easy to whip up in your own kitchen. A few simple ingredients will keep your bling (in the words of Rihanna) shining bright like a diamond. Just as you need to protect your skin in the summer, you also need to protect your baubles. Rough sand can scratch delicate gemstones and pool chemicals, like chlorine, can damage or discolor some items. Even sunscreen can take a toll. Jewelry specialist Keith Saxe says, “Sunscreen can coat gemstones, which reduces refractive and reflective light. Essentially, this means your stones won’t be as brilliant or bling-y.”
Toothpaste is a well-known hack for last-minute freshening but it really isn’t the best jewelry cleaner. It can be abrasive and scratch metals (especially plated items) and some gemstones. No doubt you also know someone who swears by soaking her baubles with a denture tablet overnight. That’s not a good idea either because denture cleaners can contain chemicals, which may degrade settings. You don’t want to lose any of those rocks!
The best jewelry cleaner is the simplest—mild dish soap and warm water. Most of the DIY recipes say to use an old toothbrush to scrub away gunk in nooks and crannies but, if you want to avoid transferring old germs to your like-new bling, you may want to invest in a brand new soft baby toothbrush for gentle scrubbing. Then all you need is a soft chamois for buffing and shining. Each type of jewelry has it’s own special technique.
If your silver is only lightly tarnished just rub on a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water. Rinse with cool water and buff with a chamois or other soft, lint-free cloth. For tougher cleaning, mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water into a paste. Baking soda can be abrasive so don’t use this method on anything delicate. Rinse pieces with warm water and gently rub on the paste. Rinse and buff—so easy!
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Dish soap and sodium-free seltzer will shine up gold and platinum stat. Put your items in a small strainer and soak in the soapy water for about five minutes. Use that baby toothbrush to gently clean crevices, rinse with warm water and buff dry with your chamois. You can de-grease your gold by giving it a quick dip in rubbing alcohol.
Vodka is an old-school hack for cleaning diamonds, but most jewelry experts don’t recommend it. Diamonds are very hard so they’re quite durable. You can clean them with a mixture of 6 parts ammonia and 1 part water. Dunk your diamonds and clean with a soft toothbrush.
Good old soap and water will do the trick for most gemstones. Some gems are heat or light sensitive and generally more easily damaged. Opals and emeralds, for example, are prone to fracture and topaz can fade. If you aren’t sure of the best jewelry cleaner for your stones, check out the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for the specifics on each one.
Pearls are extremely porous so they will soak up everything. In fact, you should always put pearls on last because makeup and hair products can discolor them. Use a small, clean makeup brush to gently wash them with a mixture of shampoo and warm water. Rinse with a damp cloth and lay flat to dry.
And last but not least, if you’re looking for easy, no-muss, no-fuss jewelry care, consider investing in an ultrasonic cleaner. Most are under $100 and some will even keep your glasses gunk-free too. Just remember, fragile gemstones won’t stand up to the sound-waves so always double-check and when in doubt, leave them out!