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Eco-friendly, DIY Ways To Clean Jewelry

Nicole Alter

Salt and ketchup are no longer just for your french fries, you can also use them to clean your rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Here are some eco-friendly methods to try at home to clean your bling without having to buy a thing.

The Power of Baking Soda

The most common DIY, green method to clean jewelry involves baking soda. Make a paste out of ¼ cup baking soda and two tablespoons of water to clean silver jewelry. Use a damp, non-abrasive sponge or cloth to gently rub, rinse, and dry the silver. You can also let silver soak in a combination of ½ cup of vinegar and 2 tbsp of baking soda for 2-3 hours, rinse in cold water, and dry with a clean cloth.

  1. For silver-plated jewelry, use 1 tbsp of baking soda, and add 1 tbsp of salt to the mixture.
  2. For gold jewelry, coat with some baking soda and a bit of vinegar, then rinse clean. For rings with precious stones, mix 1 cup of hot water with 1-2 tsp of baking soda, soak the rings for several minutes, then dry with a damp cloth.

Kitchen Chemistry

  1. Clean your gold and silver jewelry (do not do this with precious gems or pearls, as the ammonia could damage their surfaces) by soaking them in a mixture made of ½ cup of clear ammonia and 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Another great way to clean metal and stone is to use natural toothpaste by applying it to a toothbrush and scrubbing until your jewelry is shiny. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the toothpaste.
  3. To clean silver and silver-plated jewelry, line a bowl with aluminum foil. Pour hot water and 1 tbsp. of bleach-free powdered laundry detergent into the bowl. Drop the jewelry into this mixture for 1 minute. Remove the jewelry, rinse, and let it air-dry.
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Keep jewelry looking its best by following these simple tips

Polish Silver Through Soaking

One unexpected way to polish silver is to soak it in a small amount of ketchup for a short time. If the piece has a detailed surface, use a toothbrush to brush ketchup on the crevices. Don’t leave the ketchup on for too long. Simply soak or brush the piece for several minutes, then rinse and dry.

When in Doubt, Add Some Beer

Here’s a fun party trick: dip a clean piece of terry cloth into a light ale to polish plain gold jewelry. Dry gold pieces with a separate towel. Do not use this method for pieces with precious gems. The results are surprisingly good: your gold jewelry will shine and shimmer.

The Old Club Soda Fix

Didn’t your parents tell you to stock up on club soda? They had good reason to. When cleaning precious gemstones and diamonds, try soaking them in a small glass of club soda overnight. In the morning, your gems will look as good as new. Truly.

Pour Some Vodka On Me

Crystal jewelry takes well to vodka. One method of cleaning crystalline gems is to dip a cloth or napkin in a bit of vodka and polish the surface. This method is only recommended for diamonds, emeralds, and other crystals.

Pearls of Wisdom

A simple way to clean pearls, lapiz lazuli, turquoise, coral or malachite jewelry is to soak the precious stones and metals in a bowl of dish soap and warm water for several minutes. A truly green dish soap solution would include 1 cup of castile soap with 1 tbsp of lemon juice. It’s home made and smells divine.

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When in Doubt, Alka-Seltzer

Alka-seltzer is for more than just acid reflux, so we recently learned. Two tablets of in a glass of water mixed with your dirty jewelry for just 5 minutes leaves most metals looking so fresh and so clean. Remove and dry with a clean cloth or towel.

General Rules of Thumb

  1. As humidity can speed up the tarnishing of jewelry, always store silver-plated jewelry in cool, dry places. 

  2. Plastic re-closeable bags (like a sandwich bag) will prevent items from getting scratched while keeping them dry in separate compartments. Using polishing cloths or jewelry cleaners on silver-plated items can scratch the piece or cause the material to deteriorate, so it’s best not to use them on this kind of metal.

  3. Exposing your jewelry to water for a long period of time may cause corrosion on some delicate parts of jewelry.

  4. Always remove jewelry before swimming or showering, as well as when using hair products or perfumes.

  5. When purchasing jewelry, it might be helpful to check out the brand online. Often times, sellers will provide useful information about how to care for their specific jewelry online.

No matter which way you choose to clean your jewelry, most of these methods will ensure longevity. If you clean and polish your jewelry frequently but gently, your pieces will be in good condition for decades to come. And that’s home grown logic we can get behind.