How to Clean Jewelry
How to clean jewelry without harsh chemicals is the most awesome new thing I’ve discovered lately. For several months now I’ve been greeted with the same sight when I opened my jewelry box. My silver jewelry was badly tarnished. Yuck.
I don’t own a ton of jewelry or anything, but I do really enjoy what I have. And now that my youngest is finally old enough to not yank on my necklaces and earrings – I can actually start wearing it again!
My limited experience cleaning silver to date involved a strange pink cake of soap in a container that smelled to high heaven. I have no idea what that was – but I’d used it a few times in the past to clean up pieces that my husband inherited from his grandmother. I’m not a fancy china and silverware kind of girl so I certainly don’t own real silverware that I break out for special occasions.
Since I’ve been so crazy to try all things homemade I thought I could surely come up with how to clean jewelry using things I already have at home. And I was right! I love science.
Turns out using some basic ingredients you can create an electrochemical reaction to remove tarnish and it requires no scrubbing on your part. It’s also fast, easy, and smell-free!
For a quick explanation of the science – try this great link: Put A Shine On It
What You’ll Need
- A non-metal pan or bowl that will allow you to fully submerse what you’re cleaning
- Aluminum foil
- Baking soda
- Very hot water
- Soft cloth (to buff and dry what you’re cleaning)
- Dishsoap (optional)
- Toothbrush (optional)
Aluminum foil is the trick to making this work – without it you run the risk of making silver turn black (gotta love chemistry!)
How to Clean Jewelry – Step by Step
Step 1 – Line Your Pan with Aluminum Foil
Line your bowl or pan with the aluminum. Make sure the bowl or pan is non-metal (Pyrex works great!)
Step 2 – Heat Your Water
Get your water nice and hot either on the stove or in the microwave (even boiling is okay).
Step 3 – Prepare Your Jewelry
Step 4 – Add Salt and Baking Soda
Sprinkle salt and baking soda (and soap if using) on the items. Just give a little sprinkle…approximately a tablespoon of each.
Step 5 – Pour in the Hot Water
Now pour in your hot water (it’ll bubble up in a very satisfying way.) Let sit for 10-20 minutes.
Remove from solution and check for remaining tarnish. If you still see some and the water’s still hot – put it back in for a few more minutes.
Step 6 – Rinse Your Jewelry
When the tarnish is gone, remove from solution and rinse with water. Dry with soft cloth and if necessary use an old toothbrush to really clean out gunk between prongs (this is more where the dish soap comes into play – removes oily residue.)
This can be done multiple times for particularly stubborn tarnish or really dirty jewelry. The beauty of this technique is that it isn’t removing any of the precious metal (like abrasive cleaners do). You are using a chemical reaction to clean instead of elbow grease.
That’s it! You’re done! And your once grubby jewelry is now gorgeous again!
P.S. I’ve discovered it’s really hard to get a good picture of shiny silver! The after shot doesn’t quite capture just how pretty it looks now!