My husband gifted me a small gold earring last valentine’s day. I have been wearing this day in and day out for the past year. And when I took it out to clean, I was shocked to find the kind of dirt it has embedded inside.
I guess everything I apply on my hair and face – soap, shampoo, oil, lotions – all have found someplace inside those teeny earrings and has made a permenant residence there. From the outside, it didn’t look all that bad, just a little out of luster. But when I cleaned it —- I do not want to gross you out, but this is the dirt that came out of my seemingly clean earrings. There is truth in the advice to clean gold every 3 months or so.
Cleaning gold jewelry pieces to their former glory is usually not a problem at all. Small pieces with a decent amount of dirt can be cleaned this way
Soak them in some Dishwashing liquid solution (mixed with water). You can add some baking soda powder for an extra boost. Leave it for half an hour. Scrub with an old soft toothbrush.
Use a toothbrush meant for sensitive teeth or a baby brush with the softest bristles – you do not want to scratch the gold surface.
A small agitation is all that is needed to displace the settled dirt and gunk if you have soaked the pieces as suggested.
Take it out, and then rinse in clean flowing water in the sink tap. If you are cleaning small gold jewelry pieces I would advise you to use a kitchen sieve.
However careful you are, small pieces will slip down the sink. I have had an earring backing lost down the drain and have never been able to wear that earring again – cannot get a replacement. So I am careful to use the sieve even for big things like chains. Gold is so costly I do not want to risk it.
After rinsing thoroughly dry the items with the softest and most absorbent fabric you have.
Sometimes the alloys in the gold jewelry pieces tarnish and you may find that it is not possible to clean your precious pieces so easily with homemade cleaners. You also need a solution that will not damage the precious metal or any gemstones embedded. You may want to use professional gold cleaning solutions which will specifically mention how to use them and when to use them (if they are ok with specific gemstones).
Then there are home-use portable Ultrasonic cleaning machines – they are very useful if you have lots of jewelry with lots of embossings and they have lots of unremovable dirt (by simple cleaning) and tarnish – otherwise not worth the price. The machine uses some kind of cleaning solution and ultrasonic waves to clean. And it is said to be very very effective. It removes dirt and grime from gold jewelry pieces where you did not even think they existed.
But if your gold jewelry has precious stones attached to it, you will have to be careful with the ultrasonic machine – they may not be compatible. You will have to double-check on that.
If you are not satisfied by the way your DIY jewelry cleaning you can give the gold to a professional cleaning service – usually, gold jewelers do this. Be aware that there are unscrupulous people out there who can melt gold in cleaning solutions and you would not even know it. It is better to take stock of the weight before giving it to cleaners.
Updated on October 6, 2022 by Sarina Tariq