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How to Clean Metal Jewelry: Tips to Keep Your Pieces Shining

Metal jewelry is a beautiful accessory that adds elegance and charm to any outfit. However, over time, these pieces can become tarnished or dirty, diminishing their shine and appeal. To ensure your metal jewelry stays in pristine condition, it’s essential to know the proper methods for cleaning and maintaining it.

In this article, we will explore how to clean metal jewelry using various do-it-yourself cleaning methods that are suitable for different types of metal jewelry.

With the right care and knowledge, you can maintain the beauty and brilliance of your precious pieces for a long time to come.

A box of old metal jewelry

Different Types of Metal Jewelry

Metal jewelry can be made from various types of metals, each with unique properties and cleaning requirements. Knowing the specific type of metal before cleaning is essential to ensure proper care and maintenance.


Gold is a popular choice for fine jewelry due to its durability and lustrous appearance. Gold alloys, containing percentages of copper, silver, or other metals, are often used to create different colors of gold such as yellow, white, and rose gold. The purity of gold is measured in karats, with 24-karat gold being the purest form.


Silver is another commonly used metal for jewelry, known for its shiny appearance and affordability. Sterling silver is an alloy that contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper, for added strength. It is important to note that silver is prone to tarnishing due to its reactivity with sulfur compounds in the air.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a strong and durable metal used in various types of jewelry, including rings, bracelets, and necklaces. It is an alloy that mainly consists of iron, carbon, and chromium, creating resistance to corrosion and rust.


Silver-plated jewelry is made by coating a base metal, such as copper or brass, with a thin layer of silver. This type of jewelry is more affordable than sterling silver but requires extra care to maintain the thin silver layer’s integrity.


Platinum is a rare and valuable metal, often used in fine jewelry for its durability and resistance to tarnishing. Platinum is a dense, malleable metal that can withstand daily wear and tear better than other precious metals.


Copper is a reddish-brown metal typically used in artisanal or handcrafted jewelry. It is essential to be cautious while cleaning copper jewelry as it can easily tarnish and discolor when exposed to certain chemicals and liquids.

General Cleaning Techniques

How to Clean Gold Jewelry

First, prepare a mixture of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap to clean gold jewelry. Soak the gold jewelry in this soapy mixture for a few minutes, allowing it to loosen dirt and grime.

After soaking, gently rub the jewelry with a soft cloth, ensuring it remains scratch-free. Rinse the jewelry with clean water and pat dry using another soft cloth.

How to Clean Silver Jewelry

Silver jewelry can be cleaned using a similar method to gold jewelry. Start by mixing warm water with a mild dish soap.

However, if the silver jewelry is tarnished, it’s recommended to use a specific silver polish or jewelry cleaner designed for silver pieces. After coating the silver jewelry in the cleaning solution, use a soft cloth for gentle rubbing to remove any tarnish. Once clean, rinse the jewelry and dry it with a soft cloth.

Cleaning Stainless Steel Jewelry

For stainless steel jewelry, it’s crucial to be gentle and use non-abrasive cleaning methods. Begin by soaking the jewelry in a mixture of warm water and a few drops of mild liquid soap.

Allow the jewelry to soak for a few minutes before rubbing it delicately with a soft cloth. If there are engravings or intricate designs, using a soft toothbrush to clean those areas is recommended. Rinse and dry the jewelry with a soft cloth when finished.

Special Considerations for Gemstones

When cleaning jewelry that includes gemstones, it’s essential to take into account the type and sensitivity of the stone. For most gemstones, using a gentle mixture of warm water and dish soap followed by gentle rubbing with a soft cloth will suffice.

Using a soft toothbrush and soapy water to clean a metal and diamond ring

However, more porous stones, such as pearls or opals, may benefit from a cleaner specially formulated for their particular needs. Always take care to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials when cleaning gemstones, as this can result in damage or dulling of their natural beauty.

Dealing with Tarnish and Scratches

Tarnish and scratches are common issues faced by metal jewelry owners. These issues can detract from the beauty of the jewelry. Fortunately, with proper care and maintenance, it is possible to restore the appearance of tarnished and scratched jewelry.

First, identify the type of metal in the jewelry, such as gold, silver, or stainless steel. This will determine the most suitable cleaning method.


Tarnished silver can be cleaned using a silver polishing cloth. These cloths are specifically designed to remove tarnish without causing further damage to the silver surface.

In addition to using a silver polishing cloth, another method to address tarnish on metal jewelry is to create a cleaning paste made from baking soda and water. Gently apply this paste to the affected area using a soft cloth or toothbrush.

Be careful not to rub too hard, as this can cause scratches on the surface of the jewelry. Once the tarnish has been removed, rinse the jewelry with cold water and dry it using a soft towel.


For scratches, sometimes a simple soap and water solution can help minimize their visibility. Use a mild liquid soap and warm water to create a gentle cleaning solution, and then soak the jewelry for a few minutes.

Afterward, use a soft cloth or toothbrush to gently clean the jewelry and remove any remaining tarnish or residue from the scratches. Be sure to avoid using paper tissue or other abrasive materials, as they can cause further scratches and damage.

Consider using a specialized metal or jewelry polishing compound when dealing with more persistent scratches. These compounds can help buff out scratches and leave the surface looking smooth and shiny. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products, as improper use can cause damage to the metal jewelry.

By addressing tarnish and scratches using the appropriate methods and tools, it is possible to restore the shine and improve the overall appearance of metal jewelry. Regular maintenance and careful handling will help keep jewelry in excellent condition for years to come.

Using Home Remedies

Cleaning metal jewelry can be easily done using simple home remedies found in your kitchen. These methods are effective, affordable, and eco-friendly. Here are a few popular home remedies you can use to clean your metal jewelry:


Ketchup is not just a tasty condiment; it also holds cleaning properties due to its acidity. Simply submerge your jewelry in ketchup for a few minutes, and then gently rub it with a soft cloth. Rinse well with cool water and dry thoroughly.


White vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent that can help brighten metals and remove tarnish. To clean your jewelry, mix equal parts white vinegar and water, then soak your jewelry in the solution for 15-20 minutes. Gently scrub the jewelry with a soft cloth or toothbrush, and then rinse with cool water. Pat dry with a clean cloth.

Salt and Aluminum Foil

This method requires a bowl lined with aluminum foil, hot water, and salt. Place your jewelry in the foil-lined bowl and pour hot water over it. Add one tablespoon of salt and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.

Using salt and aluminum foil in a cup of water as a method for how to clean metal jewelry

The salt helps to loosen any dirt and tarnish, while the aluminum foil reacts with the salt to create a cleaning solution. After soaking, rinse the jewelry in cool water and dry with a soft cloth.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an effective and gentle abrasive cleaner. To clean metal jewelry, mix a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste onto the jewelry and scrub gently using a soft toothbrush. Rinse with cool water and pat dry with a clean cloth.

Safe Storage and Preservation Tips

Proper storage and preservation are essential when it comes to maintaining the shine and longevity of your metal jewelry. By implementing certain steps and precautions, you can protect your jewelry from dust, body oils, perfumes and damage while also keeping it looking its best.

First, consider applying a protective coating on your metal jewelry. This can help prevent tarnishing and scratches that may occur over time. Simple coatings such as clear nail polish or a specialized jewelry sealant, can provide an additional layer of protection to your valuable pieces.

It is crucial to clean your jewelry regularly, especially in the nooks and crannies where dirt and grime can accumulate. Cleaning your jewelry not only enhances its appearance but also prevents the build up of harmful substances like dust and body oils that can lead to tarnishing. So, make a habit of using a soft cloth or toothbrush as needed to gently remove any particles and residue.

When storing your jewelry, separate each piece to avoid metal-to-metal contact, which can cause scratches and damage over time. To do this, invest in a jewelry organizer or use small, airtight plastic bags. This will also ensure that your jewelry is protected from moisture and air, reducing the risk of tarnish.

Be mindful of perfumes and other chemical substances that may come into contact with your jewelry. Exposure to these substances can lead to discoloration and potential damage. To avoid this, put your jewelry on after applying any personal care products like lotions, perfumes, or hair sprays.

Taking the right precautions when cleaning and storing your metal jewelry will help preserve its appearance and longevity.

Remember to apply a protective coating, clean the small crevices, separate pieces during storage, and avoid contact with harmful substances. By following these simple tips, you can be confident in maintaining and showcasing the beauty of your cherished jewelry pieces.

Precautions for Cleaning Metal Jewelry

When cleaning metal jewelry, it is essential to ensure that proper care is taken to avoid any damage to the materials. Keep reading for some vital precautions to consider when cleaning metal jewelry at home.

Firstly, avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning your jewelry. These strong substances may cause discoloration or even corrode the metal over time, diminishing the value of your precious pieces. A gentle, non-abrasive approach is necessary to preserve the integrity of your jewelry.

A person wearing gloves and using a soft toothbrush to clean metal jewelry

It is advisable to wear gloves while cleaning metal jewelry, especially when handling items containing precious stones or intricate designs. Gloves can protect the jewelry from oils and dirt on your skin and ensure a firmer grip on the items being cleaned.

Wrapping up How to Clean Metal Jewelry

By using these methods, you can ensure that your metal jewelry remains in excellent condition, preserving its beauty and value for years to come.

Now that you know the best methods for cleaning metal jewelry, check out our tutorial on making your own earrings.