As a metal detectorist and avid treasure hunter, I’m quite familiar with the hassle of tarnished and dulled gold pieces that have lost their luster.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with various homemade gold cleaning methods to restore the shine without damage. While commercial cleaners work, I prefer more natural approaches for lightly soiled gold jewelry.
The best part is you likely have the simple ingredients at home already! Here’s my tried-and-true method for safely and effectively cleaning gold jewelry.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
- Warm water
- Soft cloth or toothbrush
- Small bowl
6 Steps to Clean Gold Jewelry at Home
- Remove any gems or decorative elements that may become damaged from the gold jewelry piece. Place them safely aside.
- Make a thick cleaning paste by mixing a tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of mild dish soap. Add warm water gradually until you achieve a thick yet fluid paste.
- Apply the cleaning paste onto the gold jewelry using either a soft cloth or old toothbrush. Ensure all surfaces are covered.
- Gently rub the paste over the gold. Take care around any engraved or detailed areas.
- Once the paste has been worked over the entire piece, rinse thoroughly under warm running water to remove all traces.
- Pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth. Check for any remaining tarnish spots and repeat the process if needed.
Tips for Best Results
- Soak very tarnished gold pieces in warm soapy water first to loosen stubborn deposits and built up grime. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing.
- Change toothbrushes often as bristles wear down over time. A worn brush can scratch gold.
- Avoid immersing gold in cleaning solutions for prolonged periods over 10 minutes as this can damage softer grades of gold over time.
- Ultrasonic cleaners are great for intricate or hard to reach areas but also should not be overused.
- Always dry pieces thoroughly with a soft cloth after rinsing to prevent new tarnish from moisture.
- Store cleaned gold jewelry in zippered bags or tarnish-preventing cloth to maintain the shine.
- Regular gentle cleaning helps prevent heavy tarnish buildup.
Be patient and take care not to rub too harshly. This safe, simple method removes light tarnish and restores the gorgeous glow to cherished gold jewelry.
The mild baking soda scrub won’t harm gold like abrasive commercial cleaners might. Give it a try next time your favorite gold earrings or ring needs a shine boost!
Using Steam to Clean Gold
While homemade scrubs work well for light cleaning, steam is sometimes needed to remove deep-set grime and oily buildup on gold jewelry.
The heat and moisture of steam helps liquefy and lift away stubborn deposits within intricate crevices. Carefully hold the gold jewelry over the steam arising from a bowl of hot water, being cautious not to get too close.
The steam will soften the grime so you can gently wipe it away with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid direct high-pressure steam as this can damage softer gold alloys. Once steaming, be sure to thoroughly dry and buff the gold to prevent new moisture-induced tarnish.
Used periodically, steam cleaning restores shine and removes clinging oil and dirt that basic cleaning may miss.
Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions
For gold jewelry with hard-to-reach areas like chains, links, or gemstone settings, ultrasonic cleaning is an effective deep-cleaning solution. These small machines use ultrasonic waves to create millions of tiny cleansing bubbles that penetrate every crevice.
While detergent solutions can be used, plain water is the safest ultrasonic option for gold to avoid potential chemical damage. The vibrating bubbles blast away built-up grime. Rinse and dry pieces well after ultrasonic cleaning.
Use this method sparingly, as frequent ultrasonic cleaning can eventually weaken and damage gold alloys. It’s ideal for occasional deep cleaning of delicate gold jewelry.
Gold Jewelry Polishing Cloths
In between cleanings, gold polishing cloths provide a quick way to restore shine and luster. These cloths contain very fine microscopic abrasives that buff away tarnish and surface dirt on contact.
Simply wipe gold jewelry gently with the treated cloth to refresh the shine. Polishing cloths are safe for all gold alloys and karats. However, test an inconspicuous area first, as some cloths contain chemicals that can damage pearl or gemstone inlay.
These handy cloths are ideal for quick gold touch-ups before wear. But heavy tarnish still requires thorough cleaning methods for true restoration.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals and Abrasives
When cleaning gold jewelry avoid harsh solvents, acids, or abrasives that can irreversibly damage soft gold alloys.
Products like bleach, hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acids, and some commercial jewelry cleaners contain strong chemicals that scratch gold and strip away the surface over time. Baking soda, vinegar, beer, tomato juice, and mild dish soap make far safer homemade gold cleaning solutions.
Also steer clear of stiff brushes, steel wool, or rough sponges that can leave fine scratches or erode gold. With the proper gentle cleaning and care, your cherished gold jewelry will stay luminous for generations.
Why Does Gold Tarnish and Dull?
So why does beautiful shiny gold jewelry become tarnished and lackluster over time anyway? Several factors can contribute to gold’s fading brilliance:
- Exposure to household chemicals and perfumes
- Buildup of lotions, makeup, and natural skin oils
- Reactions with sulfur or chlorine from hot tubs or pools
- Accumulation of soap scum and grime
While pure gold does not corrode, jewelry is often an alloy mixed with other metals like nickel, copper or silver which can oxidize. But with proper occasional cleaning, you can keep your gold looking its best.
Other Safe Home Gold Cleaning Methods
While I love my baking soda scrub method, there are a few other natural gold cleaning options to try:
- Diluted white vinegar soak – Let gold jewelry soak in a bath of 1 part vinegar 3 parts water for 15-30 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly after.
- Beer soak – Strange but effective! Soak gold for 1-2 hours in undiluted beer which contains acids that dissolve tarnish.
- Tomato juice soak – The acid in tomato juice also helps remove tarnish. Let gold sit in juice for 1-2 hours before rinsing.
- Salt scrub – Make a paste with salt and lemon juice. Gently rub onto gold with a soft brush. Rinse completely after.
When to Avoid DIY Cleaning
While homemade cleaners are ideal for pieces in fairly good shape, take jewelry to a professional when:
- Tarnish or dullness is severe
- You notice cracking, damage or missing stones
- Intricate details need special attention
- An ultrasonic cleaner is required
- Deep-set grime needs steam cleaning
Storing Gold Jewelry
Proper storage between wears helps keep gold jewelry looking its best:
- Keep pieces in zipper bag pouches or archival-quality boxes. Air causes oxidization.
- Jewelry wraps prevent chains and bangles from tangling.
- Store away from heat and humidity which speeds tarnish.
- Place gold in sealable bags with anti-tarnish cloth squares.
- Separate pieces to prevent scratching delicate gold.
With some occasional TLC, your cherished gold jewelry will maintain its brilliant luster for years to come!
Want to learn more about gold? Check out How to Tell if Gold is Real here.
While gold does require periodic cleaning to remove built-up oils and tarnish, simple natural methods like my baking soda scrub gently restore its shine.
With proper care between wears and cleanings, your gold jewelry will sparkle like new for a lifetime. Don’t let grime and dullness rob your gold of its radiance. Try these safe, easy DIY cleaning tips today!
How do you clean your gold jewelry? Share your best tips in the comments!