Natural Jewelry Care: How to Clean Your Jewelry Using Soap and Water

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are overlooked.  When it comes to cleaning jewelry, I always like to start simple with a focus on quick, easy, and environmentally friendly.  Using soap and water is one way to do just that.

How To Clean Your Jewelry Using Soap and Water:

  1. Gather the following supplies: bowl, natural dish soap, soft bristled brush, natural paper towels or cloth, your jewelry to be cleaned
  2. Fill a bowl with warm water
  3. Add a drop or two of natural dish detergent (the specific amount will depend on the size of the bowl, but it should be minimal)
  4. Gently stir the water to mix the soap with the water
  5. Add your jewelry to the soapy water
  6. Gently “stir” your jewelry in the water, and if necessary, use a soft bristled brush to really clean your jewelry and get in the hard-to-reach spaces
  7. Remove, rinse well under running water, then pat dry
  8. Lay your jewelry out to dry on natural paper towels or a cloth or towel

When to Use this Jewelry Cleaning Method:

  • Sometimes, tarnish isn’t really tarnish at all and your jewelry has just gotten dirty and lost its shine.  Use the soap and water method on jewelry that is dirty or very mildly tarnished.

This Method is Safe For:

  • Any jewelry made of all metal, such as necklace chains, solid Sterling Silver or Gold rings, bracelets, necklaces and toe rings
  • Any jewelry with hard, non-porous gemstones
  • Certain jewelry with soft, porous gemstones
  • Stainless steel body jewelry, including those with cz or crystal settings
  • Acrylic jewelry that can be submerged in water
  • Plated jewelry that does not have glued, wood, or paper components

This Method Should be Avoided On:

  • Any  jewelry with gemstones or natural materials that can not be submerged in water
  • Inexpensive costume jewelry
  • Jewelry with wood, paper or glued components
  • Amber jewelry (it will turn cloudy)
*Please note that any jewelry that uses dyed stones or materials that have not been color-fasted may “bleed” some of the color when soaked in water.  Avoid soaking jewelry with dyed components. A quick dip, or wipe with a damp cloth that had been dipped in the soapy water, will usually do the trick and allow your jewelry to maintain most of its color.

Crista’s Green Tip:

In addition to not being very good for for your skin or your body, dyes and chemically-based perfumes aren’t very good for your jewelry either.  They can permanently damage certain stones and metals and are one of the causes of jewelry tarnish, so it is important that you use a soap that is free of these additives.

My favorite dish soap and the one I personally use is Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Dish Liquid, available at most health food stores and on Amazon.

You may have a different favorite brand.  Whatever you use, just make sure it is free of dyes and perfumes if using it to clean your jewelry.

If you lay your jewelry out to dry on paper towels, it is also best to use all natural paper towels that are free of bleach and dye.  I use Seventh Generation paper towels, which in addition to being free of bleach and dyes, are 100% recycled.

While on the topic of green products, I thought I would share the hand soap that I use.  This is NOT to be used to clean your jewelry, but it will help prevent tarnish on your jewelry by avoiding the transfer of any dyes or perfumes that get absorbed into your skin through the use of regular hand soap.  I use and love Method Hand Soap because it is all natural and is truly unscented.  Most “unscented” products still have a distinct smell but with this one, I can’t smell a thing!

You can find this info on jewelry care, as well as other information about gemstones, metals and their properties on the Resources page of our website.

This post is part of a multi-post Jewelry Care series and focuses on how to remove tarnish from your jewelry.  The other posts in this series explore other means of cleaning your jewelry with an emphasis on natural jewelry care.  The other posts can be found here:

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Have you cleaned your jewelry with soap and water?  What do you like or dislike about it?  Please share your comments below.

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