Skip the jeweler: Try these techniques for cleaning jewelry and more

Use these pro tips to skip paying a jeweller to clean your valuables.

Skip the jeweler: Try these techniques for cleaning jewelry and more

1. Clean gold with dishwashing liquid.

Here's how to clean that most common of jewelry items — gold. It may not tarnish like silver, but over time gold develops a dull film from lotions, soaps and the oils secreted by your skin.

  • Clean gold regularly in a bowl of warm water mixed with a squirt of mild dishwashing liquid.
  • After a brief soak, gently scrub using a soft toothbrush.
  • Rinse under warm running water.
  • Pat dry with a clean white cloth.
  • For stubborn stains, mix equal parts cold water and ammonia.
  • Soak in the solution for half an hour.
  • Scrub with a soft toothbrush.
  • Rinse under cold water.
  • Pat dry.

Whatever you do, don't clean with toothpaste, which contains silica, an abrasive found in quartz, that can dull a glossy gold finish.

2. Wipe pearls often to keep them clean.

A pearl's value is largely determined by colour, lustre and the thickness of its fine coating, or nacre. Because pearls are highly sensitive to chemicals and salts, it's important that you wipe down your pearls after you wear them, using a slightly moistened, very soft cloth such as chamois. This removes harmful substances such as perspiration, perfume and makeup that can penetrate the pearls' porous surface. (As a preventive measure, always apply perfume, makeup and hair spraybeforeyou put on your pearls.)

  • To occasionally clean more thoroughly, use a mild bar soap and lukewarm water to create light suds.
  • Dip your cloth in the suds and gently wipe the pearls.
  • Rinse and dry on a soft cloth.
  • Never soak pearls. And never hang them to dry, since that might stretch the string.
  • Remove stubborn solids from their surface using your fingernail. Since your fingernail has a hardness of 2.5 or less on the Mohs' scale, and pearls register from 2.5 to 4.5, you probably will not scratch them.

3. Skip the polish when cleaning silver.

It's toxic and it smells bad.

  • Instead, put a sheet of aluminum foil in a plastic or glass bowl and sprinkle with salt and baking soda.
  • Fill the bowl with warm water and add the silver.
  • The tarnish actually migrates to the foil, leaving your silver clean.
  • Dry and buff.

4. Avoid getting chlorine on your gold or silver jewelry at any cost.

Both of these precious metals react to this common chemical and will deteriorate over time if exposed to it.

Remove your gold or silver rings and bracelets when cleaning with chlorine bleach. And take them off before jumping into the pool or climbing into the hot tub.

5. Avoid cleaning with toothpaste.

Some toothpastes contain harsh abrasives that can dull the metal's finish or scratch a stone.

6. Don't soak precious stones for more than a few seconds.

The water can dissolve the glue that holds the stones in place.

7. Protect silver serving trays.

Silver reacts to salt, to acid foods like mustard and ketchup, and to sulfur-containing foods like eggs and mayonnaise.

Don't use a silver serving piece with any of these foods and clean it right away if it touches them.

8. Swish away unreachable grunge.

Try swishing rock salt and vinegar around the inside of hard-to-clean containers. The salt gently scours the surface while the vinegar helps remove stains, especially lime deposits.

  • For wine stains, try swirling a small amount of warm water, baking soda and rock salt.
  • Or dissolve a denture-cleaning tablet in the vessel and let it stand overnight.
  • The next morning, rinse with clean warm water.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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