How I Clean Jewellery - DIY Home Guide

by Ian St Leon

Have you opened your jewellery box and realised your favourite piece it is not as sparkling as it once was? Everyone’s jewellery needs a good clean periodically. When you examine your collection you’ll notice your prized jewellery may be tarnished, scratched, or marked up. The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional when cleaning your jewellery at home quickly.

Exposure to the elements such as dust, dirt, moisture and air or chemicals like lotions, creams and soaps, along with sweat can rob your jewellery of its shine and sparkle. We’re here to help guide you through the process for cleaning with just soap and water to restore your jewellery quickly at home and that bright finish. So your jewellery needs some attention where do you start?

Cleaning your jewellery by hand

This is the easiest and probably the most rewarding way to clean your jewellery. Here is my personal guide.

  • Prior to beginning the cleaning process, I like to sit for a few minutes and inspect the jewellery, this give me a chance to take notice of where dirt or grime might be hidden, I can also examine any scratches and scuff marks on individual pieces. Now you know which pieces need some extra attention.

  • After my inspection I like to prepare before I actually begin the cleaning, I ¾ quarter fill two bowls with lukewarm water (not boiling or hot water) and I place one bowl to my left and the other to the right on my work surface usually the kitchen table.

  • I then add some dish soap to the bowl on my left hand and give it a stir, this is my cleaning solution. I get a soft-bristle toothbrush, a soft dry cloth, a hand towel and finally my polishing cloth.
    You are now organised to begin cleaning, but before you do wash your hands in hot water and soap to remove body oils, lotions, dirt and grime from your hands (most people forget this part of the cleaning)

  • Now we are about to begin the cleaning process and whether this is your first time or you are an old hand at this the trick is take your time.


  • The Soak - I take one or two pieces from either my gold or silver piles and I place it into the bowl to my left. I will then wait one to two minutes with them soaking in the soapy solution, the reason behind this is that it help to dislodge dirt, grease and other contaminates from the piece of jewellery.

  • The Scrub - Remove one piece from the bowl and with your toothbrush begin to gently scrub (Do not to press too hard). Make sure to move your jewellery around, and get into all areas of your jewellery. The gentle brushing motion is again all about dislodging dust, dirt, sweat and grime from the jewellery and as it is a soft-bristle brush it won’t scratch or damage the metal or stones.

    I then give my brush a bit of a wash in the soapy water bowl to remove any contaminates.

  • The Dip - After I have given it a gentle scrubbing, I will rinse off the piece in my clean water bowl on my right side. This rinse removes the soapy residue and grime from the piece.

    I will then give it another quick visual inspection, I am looking for parts that I might have missed, after I have checked it, I again place it back into the bowl to my left and allow it to soak again for another one to two minutes (I will be working on the other piece that was in soaking).

  • The Repeat - After its second soak in the soapy water for one to two minutes again, I remove it again and repeat the gentle brushing; I take care to ensure that I get into any spots I noticed during my second inspection. After I have finished brushing it, I want to dip it in the clean water again and give it a few shakes to remove any soapy residue from the piece.

  • The Drying Process – I then pat dry use the dry soft cloth to remove the excess water from our last dip, I am trying to remove as much water as I can from the piece. I will then place it on the hand towel and allow it to air dry. I do this so I can ensure that I have removed all the water from every piece of jewellery that I clean.

  • The Polish – So after I have finished cleaning all my jewellery and I have let it dry off completely, I have one final step to making sure that my jewellery is sparkling and shining bright. I take my polishing cloth and I give each piece a rub over and then put that piece away before moving onto polishing the next piece. After I have completed this it is amazing how satisfying it is to see how beautiful my jewellery looks.

Cleaning Soft and Porous stone Jewellery

While most jewellery is able to be cleaned as described there are some exceptions and not because of the metals, but rather the stones have special requirements. Opals and Turquoise are stunning when they are set into jewellery but are examples of stones that should never be soaked in water for any length of time.

Our jewellery cleaning process needs to be modified slightly for stones like opal and turquoise. Instead of soaking the jewellery, soak your toothbrush in the soapy water and use it to clean the metal, be careful not to scrub the stone, as it make cause damage. Place the setting under a drizzling tap of warm water (try not to get the stone soaked). Then with a damp cloth, give the stone a gentle wipe over.

Cleaning Pearls at home

Pearls are known as the queen of sea, so you would assume that they could be soaked in water correct? Instead the opposite is true, pearls need to be kept dry, so how do you clean them? You still need a bowl of soapy water, a cloth and your hand towel.

If you are cleaning a couple of pearls on necklace, then clean the metal first as describe by soaking the toothbrush and cleaning just the metal before moving onto the pearl or pearls. When it comes to the pearl whether it is one or a string lay it on your slightly damp cloth and gently massage each pearl as you turn it using your hands.

Once you have cleaned them, place them on your hand towel and let them air dry before putting them away. As a suggestion, I personally recommend that after wearing them, give them a wipe with a soft cloth to remove any body oils and perfume or lotions. (watch video)

How often should you clean jewellery

If you want to be technical about it, you could reasonably clean your jewellery every day, but in reality this is not feasible. As a rule of thumb, I give a regular clean to my most worn pieces on a fortnightly basis; these are usually rings, chain and earrings that I rotate on a daily basis.

Jewellery that I wear for special occasion, I will clean that once a month, just to keep them looking fresh. Once you get into a routine it become second nature and doesn’t take long, but that does depend on the amount of jewellery that you have.

Final Thoughts

Whether cleaning a diamond ring or your favourite earrings, it is easy to clean your jewellery at home without jewellery cleaners or harsh chemicals. Try to make it a fun experience, put on your favourite playlist, follow the instructions above and bring your jewellery pieces back to life and shining brightly.


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