silver bracelet that is partially tarnished

My (not so) dirty little secret for cleaning my jewelry

Have you ever noticed that over time that piece of jewelry you wear day in and day out slowly loses its brilliant shine?

Or have you ever put away a beautiful sterling silver necklace, only find it looking like someone dipped it in a vat of charcoal dust the next time you pull it out?

Yuck!

one shiny silver chan and one tarnished

I have a favorite bracelet I made that I wear nearly every day. I’ll admit, I’m TERRIBLE about properly storing it at the end of each day. I chuck it gently and lovingly place it on my desk each night because by the time I take it off at around 9:00 I’m too lazy to spend the extra ten seconds putting in a little plastic ziplock bag.

Let me tell you, though, sterling silver (and most metals for that matter) + oxygen don’t mix. 

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I won’t get into why jewelry tarnishes over time because, a) that would make for a very boring blog post, and b) my understanding of chemical reactions dates back to 1998.

But what I will do is share with you my down ‘n dirty secret for giving my jewelry back its brilliant shine.

silver chain bracelet on a rock

And I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t involve polishing cloths or nausea-inducing jewelry dips.

(Seriously, that sh*t smells disgusting.)

In fact, you probably have most of these items at home. (And if not, you can easily get them at your local pharmacy or grocery store.)

Are you ready?

How to cheaply and easily clean your jewelry at home

For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here

I have two jewelry-cleaning methods you can do with items you already have at home. The first is for jewelry that is mildly tarnished — you’ll find the method below. The second method is for cleaning more heavily tarnished jewelry.

Just a quick note: I have personally used both methods on sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry. I can’t speak for how they would work on other types of metal. And in general, silver plating may come off over time, so I can’t promise that yours won’t with these methods. 

What soap should I use?

For this first method I recommend using dish soap. Will other types of soap use? Possibly, I just haven’t tried them.

I don’t have a preferred brand of soap for this. I personally use Seventh Generation Dish soap for washing our dishes. When I use my tumbler for polishing jewelry, I use Dawn

How to easily clean your tarnished jewelry at home

toothbrush cleaning silver jewelry

For jewelry that is less tarnished, try this quick & cheap method for cleaning your jewelry.

Prep Time 1 minute
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes

Materials

Tools

  • Soft tooshbrush
  • Small container

Instructions

  1. Mix some warm water and a squirt of mild dish soap in your small container bowl of soapy water with toothbrush resting on it
  2. Using the soft toothbrush, gently clean piece using the soap and water mixture, being careful to avoid any delicate beads such as pearls toothbrush cleaning silver jewelry
  3. Ta-da, you're done! See how much shiner the right side of the bracelet is? silver bracelet that is partially tarnished

Notes

I have tried this method on sterling silver & silver-plated jewelry only. I cannot speak for how it will work on other types of metal.

If your piece is especially tarnished, you may need to add an extra squirt of dish soap onto your brush.

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See? Easy peasy. But if you try this and you find your silver jewelry is still tarnished, try moving onto this method. 

I have used this method successfully for cleaning my sterling silver jewelry, as well as silver plated. Just be careful when cleaning any non-metal embellishments.

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hand cleaning silver jewelry with sparkly silver bracelet below

What’s your secret for cleaning your jewelry?

31 thoughts on “My (not so) dirty little secret for cleaning my jewelry”

    1. I’m the worst at it. You’d think given that I make jewelry I would be better at it.

    1. No problem, and I’m sure you have some tips or wisdom that you don’t even know you have!

    1. I know, I hate to think what’s in them. It might not turn out *quite* as shiny, but it’s still pretty good. And I’m sure it depends on how much elbow grease you put into it.

        1. Hmm good question, I don’t know enough about pewter to answer, and I don’t want to give you bad info.

  1. Wow! This is awesome! I can’t believe how shiny the right side is. Seems way to simple though. Too good to be true. I would love it if you linked this up to my Motivate Me Monday linky party at IT’S A ginger SNAP.

    1. I know, it’s crazy how simple it is! I just linked up my post, thanks for letting me know about it, Katie.

  2. April @ 100lbcountdown

    I didn’t realize you could just use soap and water. I have heard of using a soft toothbrush though. Thanks for letting me know, because I definitely need to do it for my wedding rings! Thanks for sharing with Creative Style!

    1. It’s amazing what a little soap and water will do. Who would have guessed it could be so simple?

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  7. Stephanie Ellis

    I’ve also used ( which I purchased at Dollar Tree $1,a tube) Sensodyne Toothpaste, and worked on a silver platter I have… in fact been working on it this week to hang on a gallery wall…. I’ll send a pic after I’m done . But I do have question,
    “Do you know something I can deal it with that will help it to stay clean/shining????

  8. Sometimes, we all feel reluctant to take proper care of our jewelry, which are like the icing of the cake to our dressing. We either expose it to moisture or heat, thereby causing it to lose its original shine. But we can set a day in the week to clean our jewelry at home without stressing or spending much.

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  10. I have also used plain toothpaste. Not the fancy whitening stuff but the basic toothpaste on a soft toothbrush. Put the paste on your fingers and work into the tarnished piece then use the soft toothbrush to work into the smaller areas. Rinse well. You may need the toothbrush during the rinsing too. Works pretty good when I only want one or two pieces cleaned. Polish with a clean soft rag. (I use an old white t-shirt).

    1. Thanks for the tip! You know, my husband just used toothpaste to clean off our fridge (our kiddos had drawn on it a loooong time ago with dry-erase markers and it wasn’t coming off). That stuff is pretty magical!

  11. I too have tried the toothpaste method, but I keep a piece of white chalk in my jewelry box it helps silver to not tarnish, also if you use drinking straws to thread your necklaces on, it helps with keeping them from tangling.

  12. FYI.—I bought a white/yellow gold bracelet when in Italy on a cruise. I asked how to clean and the jeweler said soap and water. Thank you for your tip to confirm!

  13. I use Dawn as well; I set a couple pieces of sterling Tiffany&Co pieces in warm water with Dawn for about 15 min. Then, one at a time I use my Pandora soft bristled brush on them; sometimes I put them back in the soapy so,union, and repeat the process. When I’m finished, I rinse them well, dry them, and then buff them with a silver polishing cloth. Tiffany&Co silver and Pandora silver really comes out nice. I’ve been doing this for a long time.

  14. Sherry Keiper

    I have used toothpaste and baking soda. But it has been a while. I bought some of the cleaning solutions and got great results, but yea STANKY!! BUT! My hubby bought me a sterling ring that I picked out. And a lot of times I would leave my jewelry in the solution for more than a day. (like a week, or more) I’m quite forgetful. But I put the ring in the solution unknowingly that it was bad for sterling silver. It ruined my ring! So ugly. I have not told him yet. So ashamed. 🙁 So yea, going back to the tried and true. And have warned my daughter to NOT use the cleaner at least on her silver!!

    1. Oh no, what a bummer! I would’ve been so disappointed. Yes, sometimes the best solutions are the simplest (and most tried-and-true) ones.

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