Jewelry Blog

How to Clean Gold Jewelry

expert cleaning gold jewelry with home cloth and cleaners

If you wear gold jewelry, you will notice that over time it starts to lose its shine. The good news is that you don’t need to bring your gold pieces to a jeweler with special jewelry-cleaning equipment to clean gold jewelry. You can clean gold jewelry at home.

In this article, we’ll give you all the tips on how to clean gold jewelry properly without damaging it.

How to Clean Gold Jewelry at Home

Clean Gold Ring With Toothbrush

Here’s what you need in order to clean gold jewelry: Dish soap, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and room-temperature water.

Here’s the process of cleaning gold jewelry:

  1. Fill a bowl with lukewarm room-temperature tap water. Make sure it’s not too hot.
  2. Put a few drops of dish detergent in the bowl and gently mix it.
  3. Put your gold jewelry in the bowl and let it sit there for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Take the toothbrush and gently scrub the gold jewelry.
  5. Rinse the jewelry with lukewarm water.
  6. Dry it with a soft, lint-free towel. Alternatively, let it air-dry.

If you want your gold jewelry to remain shiny, you can repeat this process once every few weeks. It’s important not to use force when doing any of these steps, as you don’t want to damage the pieces.

Using tap water for this cleaning solution is fine. You can also try club soda or sodium-free seltzer because the carbonation will loosen the dirt on the jewelry.

Can You Clean at Home?Warnings and Advice
24K Gold JewelryBetter notNo soaps, brushes, or pressing hard
18K Gold JewelryYesNo harsh chemicals
14K Gold JewelryYesNo harsh chemicals
10K Gold JewelryYesNo harsh chemicals
Gold Plated JewelryBetter notNo soaps, brushes, or pressing hard
Gold-Filled JewelryBetter notNo soaps, brushes, or pressing hard

Warnings for Cleaning Gold Jewelry

In addition to learning how to clean gold jewelry, it is equally important to learn what to avoid doing when cleaning your gold. Here’s our list of the most common mistakes, and how to avoid them.

  • Cleaning The Wrong Materials. Before cleaning your gold jewelry, ensure that it doesn’t contain the following gemstones: emerald, onyx, pearl, or opal. These gemstones should never be liquid-cleaned (even in water) and should be cleaned with a cloth.
  • Using Harsh Chemicals. Avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach or ammonia to clean gold jewelry. These substances can damage the metal and diminish its shine. Instead, opt for a gentle soap and water solution.
  • Rough Handling. Scrubbing your gold jewelry too vigorously with abrasive materials can scratch and damage the surface. Use a soft cloth or a brush with soft bristles for cleaning.
  • Excessive Soaking. Soaking gold jewelry for too long, especially in strong cleaning solutions, can lead to discoloration and weakening of the metal. Limit soaking time to just a few minutes.
  • Ignoring Manufacturer’s Instructions. Always follow the care instructions provided by your jewelry’s manufacturer. They know best how their products should be handled and maintained.
  • Not Drying Properly. After cleaning, if gold jewelry is not thoroughly dried, it can lead to moisture retention, which may cause a tarnish over time. Ensure jewelry is completely dry before storage.
  • Improper Storage. Storing gold jewelry improperly can lead to scratches and entanglement. Keep each piece in its own soft pouch or lined jewelry box compartment to prevent damage.

How to Clean Gold-Plated Jewelry

Cleaning Gold Plated Jewelry with cloth

Unlike solid gold, gold-plated jewelry (and gold-filled jewelry) is actually made from a different kind of metal. It can be silver, brass, copper, or something else, which is then covered with a thin layer of gold. In fact, gold-plated jewelry only contains about 0.05% of pure gold.

Many people opt for gold-plated jewelry because it’s more affordable than solid gold jewelry. While it may be more budget-friendly, gold-plated jewelry will tarnish more easily and in a shorter amount of time. If it’s exposed to harsh chemicals or liquids, the plating can rub off fairly easily.

Since you have to be even more careful when cleaning gold-plated jewelry, avoid using brushes with stiff bristles. It’s best to avoid cleaning gold-plated jewelry with a brush altogether, since the bristles could remove the gold plating entirely. Instead, use a Q-tip or soft cloth and rub the jewelry gently. Use this method for all types of gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry.

How to Clean Tarnished Gold Jewelry

Cleaning Gold Jewelry in Bowl of water

It’s sometimes possible for gold to tarnish over time. This doesn’t happen with pure 24k gold, but it can happen to gold alloys, like 18k and 14k gold. For example, rose gold is made with copper, which is a material that does tarnish.

It’s possible to restore the tarnished gold to its original glory. If the gold is only a little bit tarnished, you can use the same cleaning method we explained above. Simply mix mild dish soap with lukewarm water, add the jewelry to the solution, leave it for some time, and gently scrub the tarnish with a soft toothbrush.

This might not be enough to remove the discoloration, in which case you should add a few drops of ammonia to the mixture, as long as there’s no bleach in the soap mix, as ammonia and bleach combined creates a poisonous gas.

Here’s how you can use ammonia to clean your tarnished gold jewelry (you may want to wear latex gloves to protect your skin and safety goggles to prevent potential injury from splashing). Note that ammonia has a strong smell so you may want to wear a mask.

  1. Fill a bowl with one cup of warm water.
  2. Add one teaspoon of bleach-free liquid dish detergent.
  3. Put a few drops or up to half a tablespoon of ammonia into the mixture.
  4. Place the gold jewelry in the bowl.
  5. Leave it there for one minute.
  6. Remove the jewelry from the mixture with a wooden spoon or a pair of tongs.
  7. Take a soft toothbrush to remove the tarnish from the gold.
  8. Rinse it with cold water thoroughly to remove the ammonia.
  9. Dry the gold jewelry with a soft towel.

Best Soaps for Cleaning Gold

Best Jewelry Cleansers

Cleaning gold jewelry with dish soap is the safest method. Make sure not to use a harsh dish soap that contains harmful chemicals or bleach. The fewer ingredients the soap has, the better. Here are our top five options.

  1. Dawn Dish Soap: One of the best soaps for cleaning gold is Dawn Dish Soap. You can find it on Amazon and in most supermarkets. It’s a mild solution that can be used to clean not only fine jewelry but also kitchen cabinets, stainless steel items, and even car wheels. It’s often used after oil spills to help clean up contaminated wildlife.
  1. Weiman Jewelry Cleaner Liquid: Unlike dish soap, Weiman Jewelry Cleaner Liquid is specifically made for cleaning jewelry. This gentle formula can be used for cleaning and restoring the shine of gold, diamonds, platinum, and precious stones. However, if your gold jewelry has gemstones such as turquoise, jade, opal, pearls, or amber, avoid using this cleaning liquid.
  1. Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap: Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap is great for cleaning gold jewelry. It has a biodegradable formula with plant-derived ingredients, which don’t contain parabens or harsh chemicals. This liquid dish soap comes in five scents: basil, lavender, lemon, geranium, and honey.

Cleaning a Gold Chain and Necklace

How to Clean Gold Jewelry at home

Cleaning gold chains and necklaces might be slightly more challenging because there are a lot of nooks and crannies that are hard to reach. If the gold chain is 10k or 14k, you will need to polish it more regularly to keep it shiny.

You can also clean your gold chains and necklaces with ammonia. Just be careful because ammonia is a powerful cleaning solution. Only use it for gold jewelry that doesn’t have any gemstones. Especially avoid using ammonia if the gold pieces also contain platinum or pearls. Here’s how you can clean gold chains and necklaces with ammonia.

  1. Pour one cup of lukewarm water into a bowl.
  2. Add one-quarter cup of ammonia to the water.
  3. Stir to mix the two liquids.
  4. Add your gold chains and necklaces.
  5. Let them sit in the solution for one minute.
  6. Use a kitchen strainer to separate the jewelry from the solution.
  7. Rinse the gold chains and necklaces with running water.
  8. Tap with a soft cloth to dry.

That’s all there is to it. Make sure not to air dry the gold jewelry, as this can leave behind water spots. Since ammonia is a stronger cleaning solution, don’t use this method too often. If you’re cleaning gold jewelry in your sink, make sure to plug the drain to avoid having to call the plumber for lost jewelry that goes down the drain.

Cleaning a Gold Ring

Clean Gold Ring With Toothbrush

Cleaning a solid gold ring is fairly simple, and it won’t take you a long time. You can use water, mild soap, and a soft toothbrush. Doing it frequently (but gently) will remove the chemical buildup, dirt, sweat, and oils from the gold ring.

If the ring has detailed settings, you can use the toothbrush to get between the places that are hard to reach. This is usually where you’ll find dirt buildup, so it’s important to clean those areas as well. If your gold ring contains a gemstone, like a diamond, emerald, ruby, or sapphire, you’ll have to be more careful when cleaning it.

If the gemstone is glued into the ring, you shouldn’t put it in water that’s hot or boiling. It’s best to avoid soaking the ring entirely, since some gemstones don’t respond well to being in water for too long. If you place pearls, opals, and emeralds in water for too long, it can cause damage inside the stone. It’s also a bad idea to soak gold rings with gemstones that have been treated.

You can still use lukewarm water and mild soap to clean the ring. Simply soak a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution and gently dab the jewelry. Just don’t submerge the ring in the solution. You can also clean the ring with ammonia. Keep in mind that the ammonia cleaning solution we explained above should only be used with gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Avoid cleaning the ring with ammonia if it has other types of gemstones.

You’re always free to do some research or ask for advice on how to clean gold jewelry with gemstones.

Can You Use Baking Soda or Vinegar to Clean Gold Jewelry?

Using baking soda and vinegar to clean jewelry

Baking soda is a great ingredient almost everyone has in their pantry, and you can use it to clean fine jewelry. Here is how you can use baking soda to clean gold jewelry:

  1. Pour one cup of hot water into a bowl.
  2. Add one to two tablespoons of baking soda to the water.
  3. Mix until the baking soda dissolves in the water.
  4. Soak the gold jewelry for five to ten minutes.
  5. Rinse each piece with running water.
  6. Use a soft cloth to pat the jewelry until it’s clean and dry.

You can also use white vinegar to clean gold jewelry because it breaks down dirt, grime, and oil. Cleaning gold jewelry with vinegar is probably the easiest method. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Pour one cup of vinegar into a bowl.
  2. Put your gold jewelry into the bowl.
  3. Let it sit in the vinegar for a few minutes.
  4. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the pieces of jewelry.
  5. Rinse the jewelry with cold water.
  6. Dry it with a soft cloth or a microfiber towel.

A third method is to mix baking soda and vinegar into a paste. Simply put your jewelry in a three-part baking soda and one-part water paste, and add vinegar to the mixture. These two ingredients together create a chemical reaction that will remove all the dirt from the jewelry more effectively.

Talk to a Jewelry Expert

Ben showing customer rings in showroom

The more you wear your gold jewelry, the faster it will lose its shine and become dull. The good news is that there are different ways to clean gold jewelry with common household products. We recommend trying the water and bleach-free soap cleaning solution first, and if that doesn’t work, you can add a few drops of ammonia. While there is no need to get your gold jewelry cleaned by a professional, it’s always an option.

If you have any questions about cleaning gold jewelry, like a gold diamond engagement ring, you can always consult with a jewelry expert. Feel free to fill out the form below and one of our jewelry experts can give you advice on how to clean gold jewelry.


About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.