How to clean gold and silver jewellery

Even gold and silver need some love from time to time to keep them shining

Thuis gouden en zilveren sieraden schoonmaken

A piece of jewellery from a loved one is one of those things that you try and keep with you for life – so that silver necklace you’ve had round your neck for three years is probably encrusted with the ancient remains of all sorts of salsas, sauces and sweat. And that gold ring? Oh, the stories it could tell... 

So, if that jewellery is with you every step of the way, you’ll need to know how to clean gold rings and what to clean silver with. Luckily, it’s super-easy to learn, so you don’t need to worry next time you mix something by hand and find your diamond ring has turned into a dough-mond ring. 

How to clean gold and silver jewellery with gemstones

If your jewellery has gemstones that are glued in, it’s important that you don’t submerge it in water. For example, if you’re cleaning silver earrings – the warm water might loosen the glue and send you hunting around for gems in your sink… 

You’ll also need to avoid submerging some delicate gemstones that are held in place with fixings (like emerald or onyx), as they don’t like being submerged in water either. Here’s a safer cleaning method to try: 

  1. Wipe the jewellery. Mix a small amount of mild washing up liquid with lukewarm water, dip a soft towel in it, and gently wipe the item.
  2. ‘Rinse’ the jewellery. Dampen a cloth with plain water and gently dab the item to soak up leftover residue.
  3. Leave to dry. Place your jewellery upside down to dry on an absorbent kitchen towel, so that any leftover water can drip out.

If your jewellery doesn’t have glued-in stones or delicate gemstones, then you can go about cleaning silver earrings and other items using the following methods.

How to clean gold the easy way

With a bit of elbow grease and a simple cleaning solution, you can get solid gold jewellery back its best – rather than something that’s been found in archaeological dig. Here’s how to clean gold rings and other treasures with a DIY solution: 

  1. Add a few drops of mild washing up liquid to a bowl of lukewarm water. Mix them together gently. And try to avoid hot water, which can crack precious stones like opals. But try not to use really cold water either as that can make the grime contract and become harder to shift. Tap water or sodium-free carbonated water works just fine.
  2. Soak the item. Let your jewellery sit in the solution for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Gently scrub with a very soft-bristled brush. Use up-and-down strokes. If you don’t have a specialist brush, you can use a soft, small toothbrush. Bear in mind that stiff bristles can remove gold plating, so only use this method on solid gold. Delicately work your way into the nooks and crannies – you might need to use a cotton bud too.
  4. Rinse under warm running water. Ensure the water flow is slow and gentle. And remember to put the plug in, so that your jewellery doesn’t accidentally fall down the plughole! You could also place the item in a fine-mesh metal sieve.
  5. Blot dry with a paper towel and leave to air dry. Don’t wear your jewellery until it’s completely dry, as you might trap moisture against your skin and irritate it.

How to clean silver to remove tarnish

Simply exposing your silver jewellery to light and air will tarnish it. That doesn’t mean you can only wear it on a spacewalk – you could use the above method for cleaning jewellery with glued-in or delicate gemstones – gently rub the item with a warm water and mild washing up liquid solution, wipe with plain water, and leave to air dry (or buff with a kitchen towel to dry, if there are no glued-in stones).  

However, you could also try a specialist silver polish. This is best used on plain silver jewellery without any stones set in them: 

  1. Add a small amount of the polish to a strong kitchen towel.
  2. Rub up and down (not in circular motions), turning the cloth to prevent the tarnish rubbing back on.
  3. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Buff with a dry kitchen towel.


To bring extra sparkle to your jewellery, buff it with kitchen roll that’s soft and strong. Plenty The Big One will hold together and do the job gently.

Now you know how to clean silver and gold jewellery, you can look forward to restoring that beautiful shine and wearing it whenever you like (even when you’re doing something messy like kneading dough)! Just watch out for that cookie monster... We’ve heard he likes eating jewellery too! 

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