If you wear gold jewelry every day, it’s exposed to wear and tear and can 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 do it at home.
What’s more, you can use the same cleaning method for yellow, white, and rose gold.
In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to clean different types of gold jewelry properly.
- How to Clean Gold Jewelry at Home
- How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry
- Best Soaps for Cleaning Gold
- Can You Use Baking Soda or Vinegar to Clean Gold Jewelry?
- Talk to a Jewelry Expert
How to Clean Gold Jewelry at Home
Before we discuss how to clean gold jewelry, let’s talk about the different types of gold in karats. This unit of measure marks how much pure gold a piece of jewelry contains. The highest karat rate is 24k, which is solid, pure gold. It’s typically too soft to be used for jewelry, which makes 24k gold impractical for everyday wear.
In most cases, you’ll find 18k and 14k gold in jewelry stores, which are made from gold and other metals. This type of gold is more durable and easier to clean. Finally, we have 10k gold, which only contains 41.7% pure gold. You can find 10k gold jewelry for an affordable price, but it’s not of the highest quality.
Unlike silver, which becomes dark fairly quickly, gold will likely lose its shine over a period of time. Remarkably, the easiest way to clean gold jewelry is with dish soap, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and water. Here’s how it’s done.
- Fill a bowl with lukewarm tap water. Make sure it’s not too hot.
- Put a few drops of dish detergent in the bowl and gently mix it.
- Put your gold jewelry in the bowl and let it sit there for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Take the toothbrush and gently scrub each piece of gold jewelry.
- Rinse the gold jewelry with lukewarm water.
- Dry it with a soft towel.
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.
How to Clean Gold-Plated Jewelry
Unlike solid gold and gold-filled jewelry, gold-plated 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 gold-filled or 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 and rub the gold jewelry gently. Use this method for all types of gold-plated jewelry, including rose gold and white gold.
How to Clean Tarnished Gold Jewelry
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.
- Fill a bowl with one cup of warm water.
- Add one teaspoon of bleach-free liquid dish detergent.
- Put a few drops or up to half a tablespoon of ammonia into the mixture.
- Place the gold jewelry in the bowl.
- Leave it there for one minute.
- Remove the jewelry from the mixture with a wooden spoon or a pair of tongs.
- Take a soft toothbrush to remove the tarnish from the gold.
- Rinse it with cold water thoroughly to remove the ammonia.
- Dry the gold jewelry with a soft towel.
Best Soaps for Cleaning Gold
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.
- 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 kitchen cabinets, stainless steel items, and even car wheels. It’s often used after oil spills to help clean up contaminated wildlife.
- 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.
- 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.
- ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap: ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap is another liquid dish soap that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. The formula doesn’t have any parabens, dyes, phosphates, or similar harmful ingredients. It’s also hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin.
- Better Life Dish Soap: Better Life Dish Soap is sulfate-free, and it includes vitamin E and aloe. This dish soap has a formula that’s 100% plant-derived, like citrus oils and vegetable glycerin. It’s a great cleaning solution for fine jewelry, including gold, silver, and diamonds.
Cleaning a Gold Chain and Necklace
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.
- Pour one cup of lukewarm water into a bowl.
- Add one-quarter cup of ammonia to the water.
- Stir to mix the two liquids.
- Add your gold chains and necklaces.
- Let them sit in the solution for one minute.
- Use a kitchen strainer to separate the jewelry from the solution.
- Rinse the gold chains and necklaces with running water.
- 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
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?
Baking soda is a great ingredient almost everyone has in their pantry, and you can use it to clean fine jewelry. This is how you can use baking soda to clean gold jewelry.
- Pour one cup of hot water into a bowl.
- Add one to two tablespoons of baking soda to the water.
- Mix until the baking soda dissolves in the water.
- Soak the gold jewelry for five to ten minutes.
- Rinse each piece with running water.
- 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.
- Pour one cup of vinegar into a bowl.
- Put your gold jewelry into the bowl.
- Let it sit in the vinegar for a few minutes.
- Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the pieces of jewelry.
- Rinse the jewelry with cold water.
- 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
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.