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.
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.