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How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry

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Cleaning Stainless Steel Jewelry

Stainless steel jewelry is some of the most popular jewelry on the market. Its shining features make it a great finish that matches just about any outfit.

Stainless steel will last for years with proper maintenance, but like many finishes, it has a tendency to become dirty and experience wear and tear over time. 

Here are ways to clean stainless steel jewelry to keep your necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories looking brand new.

Soap and Water

Soap and Water

One of the easiest and most common ways to clean stainless steel jewelry is by using soap and water. 

A mild soap and water combination can clean the grime and pollutants off your jewelry. 

This can be used when you start to notice your jewelry has become dull or dirty and is an inexpensive way to keep your stainless steel clean.

To clean your stainless steel jewelry with soap and water, fill a container with a mixture of mild soap and water. Allow the jewelry to soak in this mixture for a few minutes. 

Using a soft cloth, slowly rub the jewelry along the natural grain to remove the dirt and grime. If you have smaller crevices or need to scrub stubborn spots, a soft bristle toothbrush will allow for a more detailed clean. 

After you have cleaned the jewelry, thoroughly rinse it with water. Use a lint-free cloth to dry the entire jewelry piece so it avoids water spot formation.

Baking Soda and Water

Baking Soda, Water, and Toothbrush

Another easy way to clean your stainless steel jewelry using items found in your home is with baking soda and water. 

Baking soda has a variety of uses, and cleaning stainless steel jewelry happens to be one of them. 

It’s naturally abrasive and is mild in composition, making it a perfect cleaner for removing dirt and grime from stainless steel jewelry.

To clean your jewelry using baking soda and water, you’ll first want to make a paste. To do this, mix the baking soda and water to create a thick paste that still has some consistency to it. Aim for a toothpaste-like solution. 

Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, apply the solution to the jewelry and work it into the surface and crevices of the piece. 

Once finished, thoroughly rinse the jewelry with water, and dry it using a lint-free cloth. It’s crucial to ensure all of the solutions have been removed. The baking soda can damage the jewelry if it dries up and stays on it for long periods of time.

Toothpaste 

Next on the list is toothpaste. Many claim using toothpaste to clean jewelry has helped keep their stainless steel jewelry clean over the years. While this may be true, you will need to pay attention to the type of toothpaste you’re using to clean stainless steel jewelry. 

Some toothpaste used to whiten teeth may contain certain additives that make it more harsh and abrasive. This can scratch stainless steel, damaging your jewelry instead of cleaning it. Find a soft and smooth toothpaste to clean stainless steel.

Use the toothpaste in a similar fashion as the soap and baking soda methods. With a small amount of toothpaste on a toothbrush, work the toothpaste into the jewelry to generously clean the entire surface. 

Thoroughly rinse the jewelry to get any remnants of the toothpaste out, or it could cause damage over time.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

Ultrasonic Cleaner

For a more professional clean that won’t be as messy as the methods above, an ultrasonic cleaner is your best bet. 

Ultrasonic cleaners are machines that use jewelry cleaning solutions, vibrations, and agitation to clean your jewelry. They can be purchased online or in most jewelry or department stores. 

Ultrasonic cleaners are generally safe on all stainless steel jewelry with the exception being jewelry with gemstones. The agitation can cause damage to the gemstones.

The mechanics and use of an ultrasonic cleaner are simple, but wear protective gloves to avoid skin irritations. Below are the steps for cleaning stainless steel jewelry with an ultrasonic cleaner.

  1. Fill the tank of the ultrasonic cleaner with the correct mixture of cleaner and water.
  2. Run the machine for about five minutes before putting the jewelry inside to allow for adequate mixing. 
  3. Place your jewelry into the basket for the specified time. 
  4. Allow the jewelry to sit for 10 minutes after the machine has turned off to allow for the dirt and grime to settle. 
  5. Remove your stainless steel jewelry, and clean it with a soft bristle brush to remove any residual grime. 
  6. Rinse once more and dry with a lint-free cloth.
By following these steps, your stainless steel jewelry can shine like they’ve never been used.
 

What to Avoid

When cleaning stainless steel, there are certain cleaners to avoid that ensure you don’t damage your jewelry. Stainless steel, as resilient as it is, can be damaged by abrasive cleaners or brushes.

If you’re cleaning your jewelry with soap and water or toothpaste, avoid any that have harsh chemicals or abrasives in them. This can scratch and damage the surface of stainless steel and cause extensive damage to your jewelry.

If you’re using a jewelry cleaner, avoid ones that contain silver, copper, or brass, as they can be abrasive and scratch the stainless steel.

Also avoid any cleaners that contain bleach or other harmful chemicals that damage jewelry. 

When in doubt, search for a cleaner specific to stainless steel jewelry. There are many options to choose from, so find one that has good reviews and is offered by a reputable company.

How to Store and Maintain Stainless Steel Jewelry 

When it comes to storing and maintaining your stainless steel jewelry, there are a couple aspects to keep in mind.

First, stainless steel jewelry doesn’t tarnish or corrode, but it can still become scratched. When storing stainless steel jewelry, store it separately from your other jewelry. Putting the jewelry in its own small bag will keep it as safe as possible. 

If you’re using a jewelry box, set it in its own separate drawer to avoid it being scratched by other jewelry.

In order to maintain your stainless steel jewelry and keep it looking brand new, clean it often using one of the methods above. While you won’t have to create a cleaning schedule, clean it when you notice it’s starting to get dirty or losing its trademark shine. 

To restore your stainless steel jewelry back to its original condition, consider taking your jewelry to a professional jewelry store for cleaning or restoration.

But in the meantime, these do-it-yourself methods are sure to do the trick.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon

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