How do I Choose the Best Jewelry Cleaner?

Erika Peterson

The best jewelry cleaner depends on the type of jewelry you have and the materials that make up your favorite pieces. It seems as if every type of jewelry needs a different type of cleaner, and some cleaning solutions that work well on one type of material will tarnish or completely destroy another piece of jewelry. If you have a jewelry box that is filled with a variety of precious metals and gemstones it may be necessary for you to have several different types of cleaning agents on hand.

An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner.
An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner.

When choosing the best jewelry cleaner for your bracelets, rings and necklaces, it is important to take into consideration the type of metal, stone and jewelry. Diamonds and gold can be effectively cleaned with a commercial jewelry cleaner. On the other hand, sterling silver and pearl pieces will need specialized cleaners in order to not damage your favorite rings, chains, bracelets and pedants.

Many people clean their jewelry with mild soap.
Many people clean their jewelry with mild soap.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a cleaner is chemicals. Think about if you want chemicals around your house, and in your bathroom. Or maybe you do not want any chemicals at all. Most, if not all, types of jewelry can be cleaned properly without the use of harsh chemicals or abrasives.

Pearls should be cleaned with a soft, damp cloth.
Pearls should be cleaned with a soft, damp cloth.

It is a good rule that chlorine and other chemicals can damage most types of jewelry materials. That is why many people choose to use a mild detergent or soap as jewelry cleaner. You will be able to effectively clean most types of jewelry this way. There are also special cloths that are available for pickier pieces of bling.

A mix of ammonia and water can be used to clean diamonds.
A mix of ammonia and water can be used to clean diamonds.

A mixture of ammonia and water can also be a great jewelry cleaner. It works best for diamonds, and some metals. If you are unsure what type of cleaner to use for a particular piece of jewelry, contact your jeweler. The retailer where you purchased the piece of jewelry can also suggest proper cleaning products and methods.

An ultrasonic cleaner can work well for gold jewelry.
An ultrasonic cleaner can work well for gold jewelry.

For gold and platinum pieces you may want to try an ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners are small machines that can usually fit on a countertop. They clean metals and some stones with a high frequency sound. But use caution: some types of jewelry, like colored gemstones and pearls, can be damaged if they are put into an ultrasonic cleaning machine.

Consider the metal, stone and jewel elements in a piece like a bracelet or a necklace, since they can all react differently to cleaners.
Consider the metal, stone and jewel elements in a piece like a bracelet or a necklace, since they can all react differently to cleaners.
Commercial jewelry cleaners can be used to clean diamonds.
Commercial jewelry cleaners can be used to clean diamonds.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- My sister has a sonic jewelry cleaner and she said it doesn't do anything. I don't know if all electronic jewelry cleaners are like that or just the brand she has, but it doesn't seem to be worth the money.


@MikeMason-- I've never tried vinegar so I have no idea if it would work. Vinegar might be too strong on certain metals and wear out the color though. So maybe that's not a good idea.

I'm going to have to second a few of the comments here and say that the best jewelry cleaner is just an old, soft-bristled toothbrush and dish-washing liquid. It works really well and is gentle enough to use on most metals.

For ladies who have diamond rings, I can also recommend dipping the end of a cotton swab in some window cleaner and using it to clean diamonds (not the metal). It makes diamonds shine like it's brand new!

Or if you don't want to take risks, you can just take your jewelry to a jeweler and they'll clean it for you for a small fee. Most jewelers have the sonic jewelry cleaners now. So that might be a better option to buying the actual thing which costs a lot.


Can a mixture of vinegar and water be used to clean gold and silver jewelry? Will it tarnish these metals?


@KaBoom - That's a pretty good idea, but I don't know if I'm that self-disciplined. I like to have a wide variety of jewelry to choose from, and I don't care if I need to buy professional jewelry cleaner or whatever to keep them clean.


Since a lot of different types of jewelry need different cleaners, I usually try to purchase a lot of the same type of pieces. Since I mostly prefer the look of white gold, I just buy that instead of other kind of metals. I also try to buy the same kind of stones over and over again to minimize the amount of different cleaners I have to buy.

I find this works really well for me, because I'm a little forgetful. I can definitely see myself using the wrong jewelry cleaner on something if I had too many options to choose from.


@LoriCharlie - It seems awfully wasteful to just throw away your jewelry every few years. Plus, what if you get attached to one of your pieces? I've found that my sentimental attachment to my jewelry often has nothing to do with what the price was. I feel like there has to be some solution to the problem of cleaning cheaper jewelry.


@helene55 - I don't have very many expensive pieces of jewelry either. Most of my stuff is costume jewelry, and you're right, it is hard or impossible to clean. I even once tried a homemade jewelry cleaner, and I still ruin the piece.

I've found that the best thing to do is just replace my cheap jewelry when it gets worn. Costume jewelry is so cheap that it's not a big hardship to replace it every so often. It's still cheaper than buying the real stuff.


I have used toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean a variety of my rings, and they have always come out bright and shiny-no matter what kind of metal it is! --Kat


Unfortunately, most of the jewelery I own is costume jewelry, meaning it is made of cheap metals and other materials that are hard to clean. Even silver jewelry cleaner and silver polish have damged some pieces I had that were labeled as "sterling silver" when I bought them. In my experience, the best first step to finding a good jewelry cleaner is having good quality jewlery in the first place; then resources and solutions are much easier to find.


Especially in summer, perspiration, chlorine in the pool, salt in the sea, all of it can damage or discolor jewelry.

Probably it is a good idea to leave the jewelry in the jewelry box particularly when going to the beach or the pool.

If however your jewelry does get exposed to some of these strong elements, rinsing them in warm water and some dish washing liquid generally will help.

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