I travel quite a bit, and having a few places around the country that I call “home,” sometimes I get confused as to which home is actually home. One day my girlfriend, another multi-resident traveler, tried to set things straight for me. She explained home is where most of your underwear are… which made me realize, I have a lot of underwear in a lot of places.
I also realized that for me home is where most of my jewelry is! My neglected treasured trinkets can sometimes sit for several months and I come home to jewelry that’s dull and tarnished.
First off, I’m a bad girl for not storing my jewelry properly; my father was a jeweler and taught me better than that… but in the meantime I want my jewelry clean now so I can wear it!
Between what I’ve learned from Dad’s professional savvy and my own personal research, I’m going to share with you my 3 favorite ways to clean jewelry (and even silverware), using common household items.
Place your jewelry in a glass about half filled with water. Drop at least two tablets of the ole plop-plop fizz-fizz in the glass.
Let it sit several minutes, stirring things around a bit with a non-metal utensil (I used chopsticks). Soaking time will depend on how dirty/tarnished your jewelry is.
Remove your jewelry, rinse with warm water and wipe dry with a soft cloth.
Give a final buff with a jewelry polishing cloth.
Aluminum and Baking Soda (For Tarnish On Silver)
When silver comes in contact with aluminum in a baking soda solution, a really cool chemical reaction occurs that removes tarnish!
Place silver jewelry or silverware in an aluminum pan or pan lined with aluminum foil.
Pour in hot water to submerge articles, then sprinkle in a few tablespoons of baking soda. (You can add a little powdered laundry detergent as well, if soiled.) It will bubble and stink like rotten eggs. Stir solution a bit with a non-metal utensil.
If tarnish is stubborn, repeat this last step.
When all shiny and new, rinse with warm water, wipe dry with a soft cloth, then give a final buff with a jewelry polishing cloth.
My favorite “in a dash” jewelry cleaning method is toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush – if it’s mild enough for my teeth, it’s mild enough for metal!
Jewelry Cleaning Caveats and Maintenance Tips
Do not use any of the above processes to clean jewelry with pearls or opaque stones, especially opals.
If you’re unsure of the type of silver or metal your jewelry if made from, try a test spot first using a cotton swab – you just don’t know how a foreign metal can react.
Do not submerge jewelry with glued parts in any solution.
Moisture promotes tarnish, so keep jewelry in a dry location and place moisture absorbing packets in with your stash.
Anti-tarnish strips, papers and cloth can be used to line whatever your silver is stored in.
Buy a jewelry cleaning cloth to regularly polish your jewelry and avoid tarnish and dulling entirely.
There’s no substituting a professional jewelry cleaning and buffing. For any highly valuable or antique piece, take it to a pro.
There really are dozens of DIY jewelry cleaning techniques. I gave you my top 3 – what are yours? Let us know!
Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!
If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.
Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.