Fix-It Friday: How To Clean Jewelry Using Common Household Items

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Unchain my heart
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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.


Alka-Seltzer

  • 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.

The Reaction…

alka_1

The Results…

Alka_3


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.

BakingSoda_jewelry


Toothpaste

  • 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!

The Before…

Toothpaste_1

The After…

Toothpaste_2


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!

Norma sig


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.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

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.

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  • Christal Neil

    Norma, I LOVE this article! It’s so helpful and such great ideas! Thank you for sharing.

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