Dazzling, sparkling, awe-inspiring—these are just a few words to describe silver jewelry, which truly never goes out of style. However, as time goes by, even the most stunning silver pieces can start to dull and tarnish. If you want your rings, bracelets, and necklaces to stay pristine, you'll need to clean them regularly. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: cleaning your silver jewelry right at home.
To get you started, we're sharing some expert tips, advice, and instructions for making this a part of your routine.
Meet the Expert
- Kay Kostelny is a jewelry recovery specialist at Jewelers Mutual.
- Kylie Nakao is the founder of the jewelry company Tarin Thomas.
- Raphi Mahgerefteh is the founder and CEO of the online jewelry company Allurez.
- Sophie Arnott is a jeweler who founded the jewelry company Anvil and Ivy.
How Often Should You Clean Silver Jewelry?
Instead of going months without touching your silver pieces, try to make cleaning this jewelry part of your weekly cleaning routine. “We recommend weekly cleaning of silver with a simple, homemade jewelry cleaner,” says jewelry recovery specialist Kay Kostelny from Jewelers Mutual.
To keep silver from tarnishing or discoloring when it's not being worn, store it in a tarnish-resistant bag purchased at your local jeweler and keep it away from moisture.
How to Clean Silver Jewelry at Home
We've got good news! You really do not need an array of specialist cleaning products to keep your jewelry looking brand new. Instead, rummage through your drawers at home and use everyday items such as detergent.
“Jewelry can be cleaned by store-bought jewelry cleaner, but there is a great do-it-yourself cleaner that can easily be done at home,” says Kylie Nakao, founder of Tarin Thomas. “The perfect all-purpose jewelry cleaner is dish detergent and a soft toothbrush.”
Below, the experts share steps for the at-home cleaning process.
Step 1: Mix detergent with water
In a bowl, mix a bit of Dawn dish detergent in warm—not hot—water.
Step 2: Let it soak
Let the jewelry soak for five minutes. If the jewelry hasn’t been cleaned for a long time, you may want to allow it to soak for a little longer.
Step 3: Get brushing
Lightly brush the ring (or jewelry) with a new, baby-sized soft toothbrush.
Step 4: Rinse and dry
Place it in lukewarm water and rinse. Air dry or carefully towel-dry with a paper towel or regular cloth. “Because silver can tarnish easily, we recommend using a silver polishing cloth after each cleaning to keep the metal’s shine,” says Kostelny.
How to Clean Silver Rings with Gemstones
Keeping your precious rocks as clean and dazzling as possible is a top priority, too. “Cleaning gemstones will also happen during the ring cleaning process,” says jeweler Sophie Arnott from Anvil and Ivy. “The gemstones themselves are usually clean; it's mainly the dirt and grime that collects in between and underneath settings that can make gemstones look a little dull and less sparkly. Take caution when using a soft bristle brush and try not to directly scrub over the gemstones where possible.”
Raphi Mahgerefteh, founder and CEO of online jewelry company Allurez, adds, “Gemstones can be cleaned by using mild dish detergent and soaking in cold then hot water." He notes that if you use an ultrasonic cleaner, ensure that the gemstone has not previously been treated.
Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Silver Jewelry
Since you’re cleaning precious metals, take a gentle approach to ensure that you don’t damage these valued items.
Do use a silver polishing cloth.
If at all possible, you should get a special cloth to polish your jewelry. “When polishing your silver, we recommend using a silver polishing cloth,” says Kostelny. “These can be purchased at your local jeweler or online.”
Do use a soft detergent.
Rather than using strong products, opt for a kinder alternative. “Blue Dawn dish detergent or another mild dish detergent is best to clean both silver and gold jewelry,” says Kostelny.
Do seek advice about gemstones.
“Each gemstone has different characteristics, so we advise asking your jeweler about the best cleaning methods for your specific gemstone,” advises Kostelny. “However for a quick shine, wipe your gemstones with a gem cloth—these can be purchased at your local jeweler.”
Don’t use strong chemicals.
“Strong chemicals and abrasives can damage silver and cause scratches, tarnishing, and grime,” says Kostelny. “Cleaning products with strong chemicals such as bleach can damage and discolor silver jewelry.”
Don’t use hand sanitizers.
While it may be tempting to reach for the hand sanitizer, these products could do more harm than good. “These can be harmful to softer stones and metals, especially sterling silver,” says Kostelny.
Don’t use these household products.
As you’re searching for cleaning products, there are some everyday things you need to avoid. “Vinegar is slightly acidic and can harm your jewelry, especially plated silver,” says Kostelny. “Avoid toothpaste and baking soda, as this can scratch the silver.”