how to clean gold jewelry

How to Clean Gold Jewelry the Right Way: Tips, Tricks & Materials

How to clean gold jewelry, or any kind of jewelry for that matter, the right way?

This question is never in your mind as you unbox your new jewelry item. After all, jewelry is supposed to sparkle, glitter, and shine. And they do—up to a certain point. Then daily use and environmental factors make them lose their luster. Grime and dirt, sweat, caked hand lotion, and thin layers of soap and detergent will make them look dull and lifeless. Some would even lose their color. When this happens, anxiety sets your mind on how to clean them, and bring them back to their original breathtaking beauty.

Questions like, “Shall I clean them myself or have it done by a professional cleaner?” Or “what happens if I don’t clean them at all?” pre-occupy your mind.

Good thing, these questions are not without answers. But let’s tackle the second—what if you don’t clean your jewelry? The answer is obvious. If you don’t clean your gold engagement ring (like the one in this Finks review), for example, caked hand lotion and dirt accumulating under the prongs will compromise the integrity of its setting, and may even damage certain stones. Not to mention that it will look dirty.

For the first question, read on…

Jewelry like gold bracelets (such as the one in this JTV review), earrings, rings, and necklaces give people pleasure because of their sparkling beauty. Unfortunately, like anything else, they need some maintenance to keep them as they are. They need to be regularly cleaned and maintained.

Most popular jewelry styles infographic
Most common jewelry worn by women

While slightly wiping them off daily may be a good thing, your busy schedule may make this activity next to impossible. So you either find the time to do it yourself or have it done by a professional cleaner.

The question is how often? Jewelry experts are one in saying that it depends on how often you wear them.

For example, engagement rings and earrings, which are worn daily should be cleaned at least once a month. More often if you work in a dusty environment. The rationale for this is that these jewelry types are more in contact with your skin. And when you do clean them, clean your jewelry box as well.

With “frequency” settled, the next problem is the “how?”

There are two accepted ways to clean jewelry—through professional cleaners or DIY.

Professional Jewelry Cleaning

If you have an expensive Mercedes Benz, where would you have it serviced? By your neighborhood mechanic or in a certified service center?

Professional jewelry cleaner
Professional jewelry cleaner

The same rationale applies to your jewelry—especially the “fine” ones. You would want to have someone with the right kinds of skills to clean the precious metals and stones of your jewelry; someone who knows how to handle them carefully.

Even if you have the best commercial cleaners at home, it still makes good sense to have a professional clean your fine jewelry. Here are a few good reasons why.

To preserve the beauty of your jewelry

Professionally-cleaners makes your earrings, necklace, bracelet, or rings look new and ready to wear; makes your oldest piece look as good as new.

Identify problem areas

A professional cleaner can spot a loose stone, a weak link, or a loose or bent stud, and repair them, too. It helps prevent potentially scrapping a jewelry item because it wasn’t fixed on time.

Makes you want to wear jewelry more often

Cleaning jewelry at home is not an easy task. The hassle may incline you not to wear them as often as you would want to. But having a professional cleaner can change that. Having someone do it for you will compel you to wear them more often.

By the way, reputable jewelry stores also provide professional cleaning and repair services. So there’s no need to look around for one.

DIY Jewelry Cleaning

Like anybody else, you want to make your jewelry look as good as possible, as long as possible. Unfortunately, this is impossible—even if you just keep it in your jewelry box. Pretty soon, dirt and dust will form a deposit and oxygen will tarnish them. Eventually, you’ll need to clean them—either by a professional cleaner or by yourself at home.

Tarnished gold jewelry
Tarnished gold jewelry

There are tons of DIY jewelry cleaning tutorials on the Internet, but not all are created equal. If you are not careful, you might end up accomplishing nothing or, worse, ruining your jewelry.

Whatever path your search for a viable DIY jewelry cleaning process, try to avoid these jewelry cleaning mistakes:

Not knowing what your jewelry is made of

Some online tutorials specify what it’s going to clean without regard to the material to be cleaned. Some materials can be damaged by plenty of DIY techniques. For example, soft stones can be damaged by an ultrasonic cleaner.

And if you are cleaning expensive or delicate jewelry, look for cleaning techniques that will not scratch the metal easily, or ruin its plating.

Wearing it in the shower

Some people clean their jewelry by wearing them while taking a bath or a shower. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Of course, this is not such a big deal for some jewelry pieces like 14K gold, titanium, and other kinds of metal settings that will hold fairly well in water. But not all.

Hard water can damage fragile jewelry, and heated water can soften some of the adhesives used to keep the jewelry together.

In short, you and your jewelry should bathe separately.

Using toothpaste and toothbrush

This method of cleaning jewelry is very common online. On the surface, it makes sense. If toothpaste can make your teeth look sparkling white, why not jewelry?

A toothbrush has small bristles that could easily penetrate the small crevices of chain links and bezels. And toothpaste is composed of microscopic abrasive materials that may not be good for incredibly soft jewelry metals and stones.

Immersing it in lemon juice

Lemon juice is a favorite solution in so many DIY activities. For good reason—it is a known brightener. If it can brighten your hair, can’t it do the same for your jewelry?

Not quite. Lemon juice is very acidic. While sturdier jewelry can take it in a stride, they are a NO, NO for softer or plated metals. It’s too abrasive for fine delicate jewelry, you might end up with chips, scratches, or discoloration.

Using bleach

Bleaching agents can clean everything and they are great disinfectants. But they can pose problems if used in cleaning jewelry.

If undiluted, jewelry metal settings—even gold, break down after even an overnight exposure. Conversely, if diluted, it becomes too alkaline for jewelry cleaning use.

You can get by with bleach if you keep a good pH balance.

Boiling it

In theory, short periods in hot water shouldn’t be a problem for your jewelry. In fact, it is not uncommon to see steam used in cleaning jewelry—provided no part is glued to another.

The problem comes when the jewelry gets in contact with the bottom of the pot. Hot glass or metal can damage, warp, or misshape jewelry.

 A quick dip may not do much harm, but if you are working with soft or thin metals, skip the boiling water.

Not considering professional options

DIY cleaning procedures may not be appropriate in dealing with fine and delicate jewelry. But a professional cleaner or professional cleaning products are.

They might cost a little bit more, but a pittance compared to what to the cost of a lost or damaged fine jewelry

How to Clean Gold Jewelry

Cleaning jewelry at home is not as simple as it seems. There are a lot of things to consider, and prepare, to make sure you clean your jewelry right. That your jewelry won’t get scratched, discolored, or worse, damaged beyond repair.

And since gold is a popular jewelry metal, this article shall be about cleaning gold jewelry. But first, here’s a bit of useful information about this metal.

Pure gold is always 24 karat gold. But it is unlikely that your jewelry is made of pure gold but mixed with other metals, called alloys, to increase its hardness and durability. And the more active your lifestyle is, the less gold you would want to have in your jewelry to increase its longevity

Cleaning your gold jewelry is not as simple as it seems. And if it is your first time around, many questions will flutter in your mind like bees drawn to nectar. Here are a few:

What liquid cleans gold jewelry?

There are more than a dozen types of liquids in the market that can be used to clean gold jewelry and other types of metals. On top of that, you can also cook your own liquid at home for the purpose.

The Internet (YouTube to be exact) is full of video tutorials on making jewelry cleaning solutions. However, you must approach these with extreme caution. For example, some cleaning tutorial recommend ammonia for cleaning gold jewelry. Whereas ammonia is a good cleaning solution, it can melt gold if not used properly. And if you are not careful. ammonia and gold solution may explode. So if you must use it, keep the dilution ratio to 1  part ammonia to 6 parts water.

How can I brighten my gold jewelry?

Gold, like silver, tarnishes. And it loses its shine over time due to common day products people use such as lotion and perfume, as well as oils, and sweat from the skin. But you can brighten it again using common household items.

cleaning jewelry with baking soda
Baking soda method of cleaning gold jewelry


  • Salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Baking soda – 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • A piece of clean, soft cloth


  • Put a small sheet of aluminum foil over a small bowl
  • Then place the salt and baking soda onto it.
  • Pour hot water into the bowl
  • Immerse the jewelry item to be cleaned into the hot water.
  • Let it soak for 10 mins or more.
  • Then remove the jewelry from the bowl and wipe off excess debris/tarnish with a soft cloth
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • Put on top of soft cloth to air dry

The above procedure is how to clean gold jewelry with baking soda.

What is the best homemade gold cleaner?

There are several homemade jewelry cleaners that are just as good but the best is a mixture of a few drops of Dawn dish detergent dissolved in warm water.

jewelry cleaning
Dawn dish cleaner solution

Then immerse the jewelry to be cleaned into the mixture and let it soak for a few minutes (longer if it’s very dirty). Then gently scrub with a soft baby-size brush until the grime is removed. Rinse in warm water and put on top of a soft cloth to air dry.

Can you use vinegar to clean gold jewelry?

Yes, you can. In fact, cleaning your gold jewelry with white vinegar couldn’t be any easier.

Here’s how to clean gold jewelry with vinegar.

  • Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into a bowl.
  • Immerse jewelry into the vinegar.
  • Soak it for several minutes.
  • Take the jewelry out of the bowl and shake it around,
  • Brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Rinse with cold water.
  • Air dry.

How to clean gold jewelry with toothpaste

It is a common belief that toothpaste is a good way to clean your jewelry—gold or otherwise. Actually, this is not true. Toothpaste contains microscopic abrasives that can damage your diamonds, gemstones, gold, and silver.

Toothpaste has a hardness of 3/4 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness while metals like gold and silver are softer. In effect, it can scratch or damage these metals. This, not to mention the corrosive effect of the chemicals contained in the toothpaste.

Though harder than toothpaste, gemstones like pearls and opals can still get scratched if cleaned using this method, So unless you are cleaning a loose diamond, keep away from using toothpaste.

Hazards of Cleaning Gold Jewelry

Gold is a precious metal. Though relatively tarnish-resistant, it can tarnish due to atmospheric and use factors. And when it does, the obvious remedy is to clean it. While there are a lot of cleaning solutions that can do the job well, there are things you must avoid. These are:

  • Soap – be careful is using this especially if you don’t know its active ingredients. Dawn dish soap has been observed to do a good cleaning job, but remove your gold jewelry when taking a bath.
  • Chlorine – at high temperatures like in a hot tub, can permanently damage or discolor gold jewelry. Again, take off your gold rings of bracelets when doing cleaning chores using chlorine.

No matter how beautiful your jewelry piece may look, or how sparkling it is, there will come a time when you must clean it. When dirt and grime start to appear on its surface or caked hand lotion begins to deposit on their prongs, you know it’s time to give them a make-over. You can either take them to a professional cleaner or you can do it on your own. Either way, this article provides valuable tips on going about it.

If you want to learn more about how to take care of your bling, check out our article, “Ring Care 101: A Guide to Caring For Your Engagement Ring.