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?


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

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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



  • Soft tooshbrush
  • Small container


  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


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?

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